There are only a few sentences and a long pause. But the impressive moment of silence seems to mark a turning point. On the eve of being sworn in, Joe Biden landed in Washington and drove straight from Andrews Air Force Base to the National Mall. The mile-long boardwalk through Washington is hermetically sealed due to the right-wing terrorist threat. Many viewers would not have been admitted anyway because of the corona pandemic.
But it is precisely the emptiness that the moment of commemoration for the 400,000 Covid deaths in the US unfolds an impressive intensity. The sun has set at a perfect television moment just behind the Lincoln Memorial. Biden and his wife Jill stand in front of the marble building with future Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, looking across the Reflecting Pools towards the Capitol. “To heal, we must remember,” says Biden, with 400 light stelae suddenly shining along the water: “Let’s remember all we lost.” Then he is silent.
It is the first official memorial for the victims of the pandemic, which has been raging uncontrolled in America for ten months, unlike in almost no other country. And you can’t even imagine how the event would have turned out with a President Trump: barely an hour and a half, with dutiful half-punishment for the victims and massive self-praise for the alleged successes.
Biden consciously chose this performance as his first date in Washington. The reconciliation of the country ravaged by the pandemic, an economic crisis and four years of extreme polarization has long been his subject and should also be the focus of today’s post-inauguration speech (6:00 p.m. CET) ). Personal compassion and compassion are the hallmarks of the man who lost his first wife and daughter in a road accident and, decades later, had to say goodbye to his favorite son, who had a brain tumor. While Trump boasted the number of visitors to the National Mall at the start of Trump’s presidency, the desolation of the vast open space marks the beginning of his successor’s tenure.
In fact, Biden wanted to take the train to Washington from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, just as he always did in the 36 years of his time as (initially single) father and senator. But after the Trump mob’s bloody attack on the Capitol and new terror warnings, the hour and a half train ride seemed too dangerous. So the 78-year-old got on a plane with his wife – not, as usual on such occasions, on a government plane, but on a charter plane. The old government had not made any official means of transport available to him.
Donald Trump looks pathetic and bitter in this situation. Even in his latest video message, he remains true to himself. He praises his alleged accomplishments for nearly twenty minutes, then wringing some good wishes for the “next government”, which needs “luck above all”. He never mentions the name Biden. This Wednesday morning he wants to treat himself to another military ceremony before leaving Washington for his new home in Palm Beach, Florida. Neither Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, nor ever-loyal Vice President Mike Pence want to attend the bizarre event. Unlike Trump, they are attending Biden’s inauguration on the west side of the Capitol.
At this point, Biden has already left – the one from his home state of Delaware, where he has lived for nearly seven decades. “When I die, ‘Delaware’ will be written in my heart,” he said emotionally upon his departure. Then Biden does what he likes best, but was refused for months due to the corona pandemic: he mingles – with a mask – among the audience, which includes many companions and friends. Biden grabs their lapels, pats them on the shoulders, or takes them in his arms. The Secret Service bodyguards look more than once critically.
While Trump was only interested in a person named Donald, his successor is a true fisherman of those with a sometimes irritating overabundance of empathy. When the conversation is about his dead son Beau, he cannot hold back his tears: “I only have one regret,” he says, “That he is not there. Because we have to introduce him as president. ”