Janan Ganesh on what Joe Biden will discover. Political Reporter comments.

How can the reader resist Mr. Ganesh’s adoration of the literary capon, and American Dandy, as conceived by Walt Disney, Tom Wolfe? I received a copy of ‘A Man in Full’ from a friend, who missed sending in her reply card to The Book of the Month Club. This book had the page count and heft of my copy of ‘War and Peace’ .
It was a better sleep inducer than Lunesta or Kubrick’s ‘2001’! Yet Mr. Ganesh thinks it a document about Mr. Wolfe’s prescience, his narration of Wolfe as seer, or perhaps Prophet?

A Man in Full considered the city, and the state that it anchors, as America’s potential future. Some 23 years on, Georgia continues to grow in population as several other states shrink. Once uncompetitively Republican, it is now the nation’s political schism in miniature.

Nowhere was closer-fought in the US presidential election two months ago. If the Democrats take both of its Senate seats on Tuesday, to go with Joe Biden’s win there, imagine the symbolism. Here is a party going with the grain of the nation’s evolution.

This ‘evolution’ is in fact a question of demographics, not of an imagined or fictional state of ‘going with the grain’ . One of the facts of American life is that regions of the country experience the boom and bust of growth and decline, that are dependent on economic factors: Manufacturing was once ascendant, now its is Silicone Valley, Georgia has become the home of Movie Studios :


This provides mere backdrop to Mr. Ganesh political insight on a ‘divided politics‘. The ‘as if’ here, is that it were not the case in an inconvenient ‘past’, as viewed in the political present!

But not, it is worth saying, a party with a suddenly free hand. A split Senate, with the vice-president casting decisive votes, does not assure Mr Biden a radical presidency. His chances of that waned when the “blue wave” of Congressional gains failed to materialise in November. His subsequent nominations to the executive — their mildness, their familiarity — admit as much. His flirtations with the left are just a few months old but feel a century ago. 

The usual Ganesh ‘maps of misreading’s’ topped with the political fiction of Biden’s ‘flirtations with the left’. As yet the ‘Progressive Wing of the Party’ is not represented in any of the Biden choices!

I was wrong about the ‘flirtations with the left’ ? but note this is contingent on whether the Democrats win in Georgia!

Headline: Joe Biden Was Against $2,000 Checks. After Enormous Pressure, He’s Reluctantly Changing His Tune.

Sub-headline: Joe Biden is no friend to progressive politics of any kind. But after constant pressure, the president-elect has changed his stance on $2,000 survival checks if Georgia Democrats win.

After weeks of progressive pressure, President-elect Joe Biden on Monday promised to immediately deliver $2,000 survival checks to millions of Americans if Georgia Democratic senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win their races this week. The comments come a month after Biden reportedly told congressional Democrats to accept stimulus legislation that included no checks.

“One state can chart the course — not just for the next four years, but for the next generation,” Biden said in a speech in Atlanta on Monday night. “By electing Jon and the Reverend you can make an immediate difference in your own lives, the lives of people all across this country because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble.”

Biden’s shift comes only a month after he helped convince congressional Democrats to support stimulus legislation that did not include the checks, according to the New York Times. At the time, Biden suggested he did not oppose checks, but he pushed Democrats to accept a deal without them, raising concerns that he may revert to his past support for budget austerity.


What follows in the next 642 words is nothing akin to Mr. Ganesh’s literary hero Mr. Wolfe- no Pop Fizz! The recitation of political possibilities, impediments to action, time, and the persons, and political factions that might impede the Biden Politics of Redemption, rather than Mr. Ganesh’s ‘Mr. Biden a radical presidency’, in the wake of the overheated actions and rhetoric of the 2020 election campaigns. The reader can’t deny Mr. Ganesh talent as an evocative stylist, but note the final two paragraphs of his essay are striking both in argument and style. Perhaps he is riffing on the good grey Walter Lippmann?

America’s bifurcation, once it feeds into legislative numbers and conduct, puts paid to grand schemes. Voters in the middle find themselves in the oddest of predicaments: scandalised by the viciousness of politics and yet served by its results.

“Moderate”, to be clear, is not a synonym for “good”. This time last year, immoderate measures against the coronavirus pandemic would have saved lives. Splitting the difference on Mr Trump’s attempt to stay in office would be a nonsense. Equidistance from opposing arguments is no guarantor of sound policy. It is with surprise, then, not elation, that we should record this oddity of modern politics. Our era is one of extreme sentiments and loyalties. It is not always one of extreme outcomes.


Political Reporter

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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