Alan Zendell, November 28, 2021
This was what my Thanksgiving was all about, ten children ranging from six months to almost nine years old, all grandchildren of me and my family members. They represent our futures, and they mean everything to us.
What a wonderful day it was, seeing these kids, cousins who live in Oregon, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania bonding together and learning how important it is to have family. We’ll do this more often if we are ever fully rid of COVID, because nothing matters more than they do.
It will take time for the glow to fade, but reality has already taken hold. I spent time with some very smart, well-informed people this week. As close as we are, as individuals we’re quite diverse. Despite our diversity, we all tend to be optimists, yet we agreed that our country is at a critical crossroads, and we’re concerned about the world those kids will grow up in.
No one could have expressed the reasons for our concern better than Boston College historian Heather Cox Richardson, whose daily newsletter, Letters from an American, jumpstarts my mornings. Today, she discussed something that has irked me since President Biden took office. People at both political extremes have been accusing media outlets they disagree with of spreading lies and fake news ever since our insurrectionist former president started his campaign to discredit truth and responsible journalism, six years ago. In itself, that’s a seriously troubling development, but perhaps more so, is the subtle bias that every media platform has.
They all depend on ratings, subscriber involvement, and good relationships with sponsors, whose self-interest may not align with objective reporting. While the far the right have accused them of having a liberal bias for decades, we see their true colors this year. With the country in crisis over COVID and a damaged economy, our democracy principles under attack as never before, and most people simply wishing for a return to normalcy, the media have largely focused on sensationalism to increase ratings.
Instead of informing Americans who never paid attention to history or civics in school that entities as large as the United States evolve very slowly, and responsible governing requires slow, grinding deliberation, they describe the struggles to pass major legislation as chaos and disarray. Instead of addressing the way President Biden has shifted the focus of the presidency to the needs of people and restoring our commitment to allies and protecting our future, they dwell on the antics of far-right extremists. This week we witnessed the travesty of Donald Trump, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene lauding Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted by a Wisconsin jury of responsibility for murdering two people and injuring a third as a national hero.
They repeat the false accusation that our President suffers from dementia and is not up to the challenges of his job, when it’s clear to people who really understand that the minor verbal lapses Mr. Biden has always exhibited are the symptoms of a lifetime fight against stuttering. I’ve watched him critically every time he addressed something of great consequence, and I see a seventy-nine-year-old man who has lost none of the sharpness and command of subjects from the economy to foreign policy, to protecting us from climate change we require of him. Compare that to his predecessor who could barely construct an English sentence and who has the vocabulary of a twelve-year-old.
Isn’t it interesting that while two-thirds of Americans strongly support Biden’s legislative goals, our economy has boomed as a result of his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, and new jobless claims are the lowest they’ve been in fifty-two years, Biden’s approval ratings are around 45 percent? I blame the media’s quest for ratings for that. It’s a lot sexier to focus on growing insurrections and posturing a president on the verge of collapse than telling the truth.
Truth: our withdrawal from Afghanistan looked awful because Trump had already withdrawn most of our intelligence operatives, so we were unaware that the Afghan armed forces were secretly negotiating their surrender to the Taliban. Yet, despite the chaotic appearance, we executed the largest evacuation in the history of the world, and had Taliban security forces not allowed one suicide bomber to slip past them, killing thirteen American soldiers, the whole operation would have looked like a miracle.
Truth: Biden’s patience and respect for his colleagues has breathed life back into bipartisanship, without which our Congress cannot function. They still might fail, but it would be best for everyone if the media presented the issue honestly. Instead, they imply that Biden’s accomplishments, which include restoring our roles in keeping Iran non-nuclear and mitigating the effects of climate change somehow occurred despite his doddering, failing presence.
In fact, these things happened because Biden has not lost focus on what is best for America. He suppressed his own ego and sucked up the criticism while guiding our slowly moving ship of state with a steady hand. Above all, he has restored moral leadership to a nation that had lost its self-respect and that of its allies thanks to the actions of Donald Trump.