“Barbant” but “important”. This sentence slipped in a speech by Joe Biden himself sums up his bet, made when entering the White House six months ago: to privilege the content rather than the form, to put a prosperous America at the center of the game. global.
Gathering his ministers at the White House on Tuesday to mark a first semester in power, he again recalled the analysis that he has continued to bludgeon since January.
For him, the United States is in an existential “competition” with countries, like China, “which believe that the future belongs to authoritarianism.” Joe Biden wants to demonstrate on the contrary that “democracy can do more”, both to innovate, fight against climate change and ensure prosperity.
This happens, according to him, through pharaonic spending on roads, bridges, high-speed internet, but also in health, education and support for families. Externally, this involves reviving traditional alliances that had been damaged for four years.
Major issues, but which do not necessarily fascinate public opinion, he says it himself.
“I know it’s a boring speech, but it’s important,” said the US president on July 7, in the suburbs of Chicago.
He came, in front of an audience whose applause was gradually weakening, to make the article of his gigantic economic and social projects, by listing numerous figures and examples.
“It must really be boring, boring, boring for you, especially those under the age of 13,” he joked once again on July 15, in front of parents and children to whom he exposed a measure of financial support for families.
– Anti-Trump –
After a Trump presidency made of outbursts and diatribes, the 78-year-old Democrat and his team stick to extremely controlled communication, bludgeoning elements of language.
“Biden is trying to reverse in his favor something that has been problematic for a long time, his very scholarly way of expressing himself,” said Robert Rowland, a professor at the University of Kansas, an expert in presidential communications.
Joe Biden “tries to project the image of someone who is boring but competent, and who produces real results.”
In front of the press, with rare exceptions, the president relies on the teleprompter and his notes, and his team of communicators hasten to bring out the journalists who try to ask questions at the end of each speech. Quite the opposite of Donald Trump who loved to hold impromptu monologues and send angry tweets, while the Biden administration makes very institutional use of social networks.
His predecessor vituperated, Joe Biden rarely raises the tone. Sometimes he even whispers.
“Listening (Joe Biden speaking) can be painful. He stumbles over words, he loses track …” says Lawrence Jacobs, professor of political science at the University of Minnesota.
However, he admits to him “more assurance when he speaks on foreign affairs or national security issues”, which he practiced a lot during his long career as a senator.
Example recently with the withdrawal of the last American soldiers from Afghanistan, a major decision of the mandate, defended without blinking by Joe Biden.
The president “does not underestimate the rhetorical power attached to his office,” according to Lawrence Jacobs. “It would be a mistake to believe he can’t set the tone.”
Last Friday, before leaving the White House for the weekend, Joe Biden accused Facebook and other social networks of “killing people” by letting false information circulate. His words were broadcast all weekend long on continuous television.
But Joe Biden is especially spontaneous when he unleashes his empathy. The president, marked by family tragedies – the death in a car accident of his first wife and their daughter, then the death of his beloved son Beau following cancer – willingly takes on the habit of “chief comforter”.
He recently spoke for long hours with the families of the victims of a particularly deadly building collapse in Florida.
“He has a knack for comforting people,” said Robert Rowland.
For now anyway, Joe Biden’s popularity rating remains anchored above 50%, a level that Donald Trump had never reached.
aue / cjc