In this episode of Talks at GS, journalist Evan Osnos discusses his examination of the people and events that have defined the 50-year political career of Joe Biden and the major policy and political considerations likely to shape the Biden administration.
On lessons from Biden’s presidential campaigns: “I think there's a real arc of his career that you see over the long-term in which he settles down. He becomes a more mature figure – a bit of a calmer figure because the younger Joe Biden… was a function guy – a guy who was always trying to elbow his way into their rooms, sort of slightly reminding everybody that he was there. And the one that you see later in his career, particularly now, is somebody who is at peace with who he is and what he's done in his life. And curiously, I think, and he would admit this, it was only after he gave up the idea of being president, that he probably made himself somebody who was going to be president – that it was part of that process of coming to terms with it that made him as electable as he is.”
On foreign policy under a Biden Administration: “The reality is you cannot go into office in 2021 thinking that you're inheriting the world you left behind in 2017. Part of it is there are things that have changed outside of America's control. And then there are elements of the American image that has been radically transformed… If we talk about Asia, there is a feeling among America's allies, that they're not entirely sure if we're going to be there for them in the long-term… And I think there's a real question about how is the United States going to conduct itself in a world in which China is making a play for global leadership, but it's not by any means achieving it. And I think there is a real opportunity right now for the United States to begin to say to other countries, ‘Look, we understand that we just scared you for the last four years, but we are still fundamentally committed to a couple of things: alliances and the credibility of doing what we say we will do.’ And if you can begin to do that, in some ways that's more important. It's the primary activity before you can begin to go out and achieve individual policy objectives on the foreign policy front.”