HL 154 – Biden Needs to Channel Rocky

April 13, 2022

Home | Blog | HL 154 – Biden Needs to Channel Rocky

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.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden

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.


  1. Ethan Litwin

    Absent compelling proof, I will continue to disagree. Lax antitrust enforcement merely set the stage for widespread market manipulation. What supercharged this were new ways of coordinating and monitoring compliance with illegal agreements. Algorithmic pricing, common shareholdings by asset managers, and the ability to track real prices in real time through data vendors are only a few examples of why price effects are hitting now.

  2. Ethan Litwin

    Lloyd, if I could nitpick a bit here, I would argue that much of the inflation we are experiencing is due to corporate exercise of market power, rather than wage increases. We’ve seen cartels push the cost of food higher across multiple sectors and the non-competitiveness in the oil and gas sector is painfully obvious. Not to mention the entire pharmaceutical sector, hospitals, etc. Before we throw workers under the bus, let’s focus on the entities actually raising prices first.

    • Lloyd Constantine

      Dr Litwin , there is no doubt that forty years of lax antitrust enforcement and in particular the failure to enforce Clayton section 7 has resulted in highly concentrated markets in most industries ,where companies abusively exercise their market power and tacitly collude . But that has been true for decades , the recent spike in prices is more the product of wage increases that we applaud and the well known competitive defects in globalized energy markets but yes the concentration in those markets at several points in the supply chain has surely been a component of higher prices.


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