Politics

Hurricane Ida: Joe Biden at the bedside of Louisiana

The American president wants to appear at the bedside of these fellow citizens when the passage of hurricane Ida left 44 dead.

New Yorkers are still in shock from the very heavy toll linked to the passage of Hurricane Ida , between Wednesday and Thursday, September 2. They had no idea that the hurricane could have struck them, more than 2,000 kilometers further north, with such violence. This is why Joe Biden took America as a witness, saying it was proof that global warming was a reality and that the whole country had to prepare for it. A Joe Biden who goes to Louisiana, Friday, September 3, to meet the victims.

Global warming

The American president has launched a major infrastructure plan to prepare for the energy transition. There is a change in mentalities: a few years ago a minority of Americans thought that man was primarily responsible for climate change, today they are 57%. At the same time, a majority of Americans still believe that global warming will not affect them in their daily lives, explains France Télévisions journalist Loïc de La Mornais.

It’s not just campaigning-as-therapy, though it sometimes feels that way. Rather, the torment is central to Biden’s candidacy, a mix of agony and empathy unlike any since 1992, when the emotive Bill Clinton won the White House telling distressed voters he felt their pain.

A current TV ad recounts how Biden was sworn in to the Senate at the bedside of his two small boys, hospitalized after a car crash that killed his wife and infant daughter. One of those boys, he says, was diagnosed 40 years later with terminal brain cancer.

“I can’t fathom what would have happened if the insurance companies had said for the last six months of his life, ‘You’re on your own,’” a gravel-voiced Biden states. “The fact of the matter is, healthcare is personal to me. Obamacare is personal to me.”

“He knows struggle, hardship, perseverance and has come out the other side,” said Jim Margolis, who produced campaign advertising for President Obama and Vice President Biden and strategized for Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, in her White House bid. “Biden’s ability to talk to people simply and compassionately, to listen as well as speak, to credibly say, ‘I’ve been there, too,’ is a particularly powerful contrast.”

By placing so much emphasis on biography — or personal narrative, as political scholar Robert Spitzer calls it — Biden has taken up a tradition that has been at the center of presidential campaigning from the start.

George Washington was celebrated as the father of the country, though he didn’t need any such glorification to be chosen, sans opposition, as the first president. Andrew Jackson used his frontier upbringing (back when the Carolinas were the frontier) to campaign as the candidate of the common man.

Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill turned him into a national hero and helped him become, at the time, the youngest president in American history. Obama presented his ancestry as the son of a Black father from Kenya and white mother from Kansas as an exemplar of the nation’s diversity and hopes for greater harmony across racial lines.

Spitzer, a political science professor at the State University of New York in Cortland, said a compelling biography can humanize candidates and make them more relatable. “People like to vote for someone they understand,” said Spitzer, who has written several books on the presidency, “and someone they feel they have a connection to.”

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