Joe Biden’s presidency is a year old today. And all I can think about is Michelle Go.
To make things go, he should think Michelle Go.
The real news after that special news conference at Biden’s one year mark is that he wants to run again—for now.
Of all the questions asked, that one question was answered in the best way Biden could answer anything. Short. And to the point. Anything else may have seemed avuncular, but also more foggy than folksy.
The question was posed by NBC’s Kristen Welker: “You put Vice-President Harris in charge of voting rights. Are you satisfied with her work on this issue?”
But Welker wasn’t satisfied with an answer on just voting rights, she wanted the HR status of the first African American/Asian American woman to hold the second highest office in the land. Welker wanted news.
“Can you guarantee, do you commit that she will be your running mate in 2024? Provided that you run again?”
The little aside at the end was to loosen the question a bit. But Biden didn’t hesitate.
“Yes. And yes.”
Welker, somewhat stunned by the brevity, asked, “Care to expand?”
“There’s no need to,” said Biden. “She could be my running mate, number one. And number two, I did put her in charge. I think she’s doing a good job.”
OK, the voting rights bills did not pass on Wednesday, blocked by Republicans and two Democrats, but we were prepared for that. (See last column.)
And even Biden’s short answer could be still be parsed if he doesn’t run or chooses someone else as VP.
But Biden was clearly in assumptive mode. He’s running. With Harris. Again. And he says he’s going to get out of his office and see people face-to-face around the country more. Sounds like a campaign.
That may be a way of jumpstarting his presidency, but it sounded more like jumping over the problems of today, which remain primarily Covid and the economy.
If President Biden really wants to jumpstart his presidency, he simply needs to let us all know “he gets us.” By that, I mean he needs to show he understands what all Americans are going through. Does he know the price of tofu and kimchee at the supermarkets? He could have done it by showing us he knows Michelle Go.
Go, 40, is the Asian American success story from the San Francisco Bay Area, whose education took her from UCLA to an MBA in New York City, where she ultimately joined a major firm to make her life.
Last Saturday morning in the Times Square subway station, while waiting on the platform, Go was on her way. Somewhere. Her future was bright.
But then she was suddenly pushed from behind.
Go never saw what hit her. She was out of balance and found herself on the tracks, when a hurtling train killed her.
Another in the more than 10,000 Asian American hate crimes since the pandemic began?
It’s still being investigated, but it looks like the perp, a homeless man off his meds, may have attacked at least one other person that day and was not targeting Asians.
It wasn’t like a subway push in 2012, when Sunando Sen was pushed from behind in New York and died. His perp, a woman, again off her meds, was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime. She told investigators she believed Sen was Hindu or Muslim and shoved him in retaliation for 9/11.
That was a hate crime. What happened to Go may be a hate coincidence. Still horrifyingly tragic. Still hurtful. And still a problem. How do you prevent such a crime? Better yet, how do you protect innocent victims like Go? More policing in the subways doesn’t sound like an answer.
Sadly, this is not such an isolated situation. When Kendra Webdale was pushed onto the subway tracks and crushed to death in 1999, a law in her name was passed to make sure dangerous people off their meds were committed to treatment before they became violent.
Kendra’s Law has its flaws, and it doesn’t really address homelessness, violence, or the mental health system well enough. It may help to prevent some perps, but it doesn’t quite help to prevent victims like Michelle Go.
For these big problems, we look to government, mostly state and local, to figure out, regulate, solve. But it’s a big ask. It’s an understatement to say it’s not easy. But we keep fighting for an answer.
So for now, Michelle Go’s memory best serves us all as metaphor.
We are all hurting in this country and looking for a sense of normal. We’ve all been knocked from behind, by Covid and the economy. We have lost our balance. Even the president.
But there’s still time to look to each other to help us all get back up.
At the one-year point, people will talk about Biden’s approval ratings, which hover in the low-to-mid 40 percent range. Whatever it is, it’s higher than the previous administration. And that’s saying a lot.
He’s still not Donald Trump. And in November 2020, that was the best thing going for Biden.
Since then, Biden did get a massive infrastructure bill passed to fix our roads and bridges. The previous administration didn’t do that.
Biden has been reassembling the broken government Trump took apart and didn’t even fully staff.
And now instead of a Trump administration that fueled the denial of Covid and science, the country is catching up and getting closer to where we need for vaccinations and boosters. Tests and masks are being distributed for free.
In general, things are not perfect. But one year of Biden is better than a fifth year of Trump.
But it takes time to fully recover. We’ve been knocked from behind and are seeking balance. Biden should know that. He kept mentioning in his press conference how he can’t believe not one Republican would crossover on anything. Build Back Better. Voting Rights. Yes, things are different from when he was a senator. There is no cooperation, not when the GOP is still dominated by the political stench of Trump. The world and politics have changed. During that two-hour press conference, Biden at times seemed like an older man driving, not sure when to put his foot on the gas or on the brake. Witness his Ukraine answers on incursion or invasion that seemed to set some people off.
But on that question of running again. Biden was sure. Full speed ahead. He stands for something. Even after the voting rights defeat, he promises to fight, perhaps through executive orders. At least he stands for something. As he kept asking on Wednesday, what does the GOP stand for?
It leaves us with one bright spot going for Joe Biden. He’s not Donald Trump, the man who knocked the United States off balance.
Still, we struggle to find our way up and forward.
I’ll talk about this column and other subjects on Emil Amok’s Takeout, where I ask, “What Does An Asian American Think?” on my YouTube channel, Facebook, and on Twitter. It’s LIVE at 2p, M-F, recorded on www.amok.com.