Alan Zendell, December 16, 2020
President Elect Joe Biden has not called to ask my advice. Neither has anyone else for that matter. But that won’t deter me from offering some.
First, and most important, Mr. President Elect, do everything you can to stem the spread of COVID. Wear your mask whenever you’re in public. Find bigger ones, so you can make self-deprecating jokes about having the largest mask anyone has ever seen. Arrange regular public service announcements by Drs. Anthony Fauci and Michael Osterholm to repeatedly drive the message home that masks and distancing are as effective as a vaccine on a day-to-day basis. Every responsible media outlet should be happy to make daily time slots available. Make sure everyone in your administration follows the medical experts’ guidance at all times.
If Congress doesn’t act quickly to assure sufficient funding to complete the distribution of the COVID vaccines, find a way to use your military appropriation to mount a full court press supporting National Guard troops and even active-duty military, if necessary, to make sure the job is done without a hitch.
Go ahead with your plans for a virtual inauguration. Issue an Executive Order, if necessary, prohibiting any large public gatherings, and brag about having the smallest inaugural crowd in the nation’s history. Declare Memorial Day a day of remembrance for everyone who died of COVID and the friends and families they left behind. If conditions permit, reschedule your inaugural celebration for the Fourth of July, and open up the capital to everyone who wishes to attend.
Immediately halt the redeployment of American troops until your Joint Chiefs can re-evaluate the situation. Don’t make any drastic moves without offering our allies who have dogs in those fights to chime in, but don’t hesitate to go your own way in the final decisions. Americans need to see you as thoughtful and decisive.
As soon as possible, schedule a series of high-level international meetings, most of which can be virtual. Publicly re-commit to NATO, the Paris Climate Accords, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement, establishing venues in which they can be tweaked and re-negotiated. Engage with our traditional allies concerning tariffs and trade policies. Put an immediate end to the nativist isolationism of the current administration, and let the world know, loud and clear, that America is back to being a leader.
With respect to Congress, do what you do best. Forge new alliances in the Senate. Even in the unlikely event that Democrats win both Senate seats in Georgia next month, you’d rather pass clearly bipartisan agreements than ram through legislation by slim majorities. I have no doubt that you can form a coalition to fix the flaws in Obamacare and assure that it thrives.
I’m sure this doesn’t need to be said, but … stay the hell off Twitter unless you’re congratulating someone on a birthday or the arrival of a new grandchild. If you have negative messages to deliver, do so privately. Continue, as you have always done, to treat everyone else in the power structure with respect. Above all, end the pattern of personal insults and slander that has characterized the current administration.
Concerning your predecessor, (I’m conditioning myself not to speak his name unless I am forced to,) ignore him and his cult of rabid supporters whenever possible. Don’t let yourself be baited. Don’t engage with them at all unless they create conditions that require intervention. If they do, announce a zero-tolerance policy on political violence and acts of insurrection. Use the power of your properly formulated Justice Department to take swift punitive action against anyone who threatens the security of Americans.
At the earliest possible date, re-engage personally with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, assuring every American that you will not tolerate hacking or any other actions that threaten to undermine or disrupt American life. Re-engage with Kim Jong Un and Hassan Rouhani at the diplomatic level. Find your own version of Henry Kissinger, perhaps adding to John Kerry’s portfolio, and let those adversaries know who their main point of contact is. Avoid “love affairs” with murderous dictators, but I’m sure that’s already near the top of your how-not-to-behave-as-President list.
Finally, just continue to be the genuine article. You are exactly who this country needs to lead it now. Be the gaffe machine you’ve always been – that’s never been a fair criticism. Keep telling us the truth and be the moral and ethical man of faith you are. At 78, you didn’t need to do this. I believe without reservation that you ran for President solely to restore America’s soul.