Not Sly Stallone, but Governor and Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller of ambivalent but blessed memory. Oh, for the days of those Rockefeller, Richardson and Javits Republicans. But that’s a post for another day. Today we commend to President Biden the way Rocky confronted tough situations on his watch. With confidence, arrogance and certitude. The episode we regularly recall from the “Summer of ‘69” involved the Long Island Railroad, where by August of that year some trains on some key routes at some rush hour times, never left Penn Station for their scheduled destinations in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York State.
On August 8, 1969, Rocky held a news conference at the Garden City Hotel on Long Island and in a flat and deadpan manner stated what he said was not a “prediction” “but an announcement”: within two months “the Long Island Railroad service is going to be the finest in the country.” Precisely two months later at a second news conference Rocky, smiling but neither winking nor smirking, stated that the railroad “has become the finest commuter railroad in the country.” Back then we watched that press avail as many times as possible in a pre-video recording era and especially noted the speechless reactions of the press. They not only lacked words but breath and collectively resembled the big cowboy right after he was kicked in the nuts by Paul Newman playing Butch Cassidy [and/with The Sundance Kid].
With regard to virtually every promise Biden made during his 2020 presidential campaign and during the early days of his administration, he has fulfilled the pledge to a far greater degree than Rocky had progressed toward making the LIRR a good, let alone, “the finest” commuter railroad.
Biden’s promises to foster full employment, to steer us through the pandemic, to repair the overall economy, to restore the rule of law at the Department of Justice, to resume merit-based judicial appointments have all been substantially or in some cases completely fulfilled.
His pledge to revive NATO has not only been fulfilled but formerly neutral countries like Finland and Sweden are lining up to join the United States and Putin’s other foes instead of Putin’s pals like Aleksandar Vucic, Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump.
Especially with regard to inflation and immigration, Biden needs to channel Rocky. Increased wages and Ukraine are the predominant explanation for inflation and on average wage gains have outpaced price increases.
With regard to immigration and our porous borders, until Congress reforms the laws the executive’s job is to enforce existing law in a humane fashion. Given what Biden inherited, cages and all, the job done to date has been good and steadily getting better.
Ron Klain must get copies of those 8/8/69 and 10/8/69 Rocky press conferences, put them on a loop and have them watched repeatedly during a daily mindfulness session. That is, until Joe can do a reasonable impression of Rocky.
If Ron and Joe also need a more recent role model, they need look no further than Obama in his return to the Whitehouse last week. And how often Biden should seek additional visits from that former POTUS, as the current one moves forward, also is a post for another day – soon.