Average Joe

President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House on May 7, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Joe Biden is an average politician, both literally and, as he would say, literally.

The president has been “average” in the sense that his gifts are about those of the median politician and his career, including his presidency, has been very middle-of-the-pack kind of stuff. Whether he wins or loses this fall, it’s easy to see his legacy as being an ordinary, workmanlike figure in politics. He will reside with Gerald Ford, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, Rutherford Hayes, and others of whom history will say: He did his best in a difficult time.

That median kind of averageness has actually been the key to Biden’s long and, eventually, successful career. Whenever his name was raised, there rang out a trumpeted call: “Sure. Why not?” A Democrat, but a Delaware kind of business-friendly one. Tough on crime, but with a particular focus on female victims. Passionate about foreign policy, but always in a “let’s get everybody together in a room and chew this over” kind of way. Basically John Kerry but without the yacht-induced lockjaw.

And that’s the kind of averageness that Washington loves. That’s the kind of median mediocrity that will get a guy the vice presidency. And then, when the Republican Party lost its mind and Democrats, hollowed out by 12 years of the Obama-Clinton game of thrones, were about to lose theirs and nominate an honest-to-goodness socialist, the presidency drifted down into the very average hands of Biden. Being unremarkable suddenly became a most remarkable attribute indeed.

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