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Our next president, Joe Biden, “will restore a bunch of norms,” vowed Barack Obama in November. And norms are exactly what America wants back. After boy genius Bill Clinton, blueblood heir to power George W. Bush, visionary hope-and-change merchant Barack Obama and disruptor Donald Trump, Joe Biden promises to be America’s first normie president — a guy whose pitch is, “I’m average.”
On Wednesday, Joe Biden walks into the barroom that is America like the rumpled fat man on the ’80s sitcom and everyone present joyously cries out, “Norm(ie)!” After the convulsions of the World War I era, and a very abnormal presidency held by Woodrow Wilson, the next president, Warren G. Harding, famously promised a Return to Normalcy. Biden is taking over because he represents “Normalcy 2: The Re-Normening.”
What people want from Washington is to relax its grip on our consciousness so that we can resume spending our days talking about normal, non-Washington stuff, like what should happen in the “Sex and the City” reboot, which Kardashian Kanye West will marry next, and whether Armie Hammer is a cannibal. If all goes well, instead of staying up late doomscrolling on our phones, we’ll be normscrolling: Hey, did you hear Joe Biden is bringing two dogs with him to the White House? That’s normal! Americans will have so little reason to stay up late looking at our phones that there will be a sex surge: a bonk boom, a shag tsunami, a national nooky party like the end of “Return of the Jedi” except this time with naughty teddy bears. Late in 2021 about 40 million babies will be born, and they’ll all be named Norm. Even the girls.
Accompanying this New Wave of Norminess is a corollary: Biden can’t be Mister Norm if he does a bunch of stuff that makes people angry. Turning over policy to the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezites would not be normal. Biden’s half-hearted plans for a Green New Deal, a plethora of social-justice programs and opening up the borders to anyone claiming to be a refugee would not be normal. They’re divisive, they make people quarrel and shout, they will drive Americans right back to the partisan news channels and the toxic social-media sites.
Some old Washington hands have speculated that Biden would have been absolutely fine with a Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell — neither of them advertises this, but the two of them have been friends since forever — because it would have given him a perfect excuse to be a ceremonial president, the kind of guy who calls a lid at 9 a.m. and retires to his basement to talk about the good ol’ days and watch reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
As it is, with the Georgia Democrats pulling off the double upset, giving Dems the narrowest possible majority in the Senate to go with an almost equally anorexic majority in the House, the Donkey Party is braying that “We have unified control of the government for the first time in a decade.” Only technically. Nobody has ever rammed through much of anything with 50 Senators. A 50-50 Senate is a sign that the country is evenly split. If the Senate is ordered to neither go one way nor the other, that’s tantamount to saying: Stay put.
Biden himself said, the day after the election, “The presidency itself is not a partisan institution. It’s the one office in this nation that represents everyone, and it demands a duty of care for all Americans. That is precisely what I will do.”
Biden could be the most popular president since post-9/11 George W. Bush if he sticks to thinking that he represents everyone, not just the small percentage that constitutes the activist wing of the Democratic Party. And what does “everyone” want? Nothing except an end to the Age of COVID. With our first normie president, maybe we can all just get back to business as usual.
Kyle Smith is critic-at-large at National Review.
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