WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Joe Biden preaches patience but acts with urgency, his vision of the powers of the Oval Office is quickly taking shape, modeled after Democratic predecessors who dramatically expanded the reach of government to confront generational crises.
In a recent meeting with historians and in private conversations with advisers, Biden looked to the examples set by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson as he aims to use the levers of executive authority to create opportunities and break down barriers.
Unlike Roosevelt and Johnson, who enjoyed formidable Democratic majorities in Congress, Biden has had to operate with a no-margin-for-error edge in fiercely partisan Washington.
Born soon after Roosevelt’s New Deal and having first run for office in the shadow of Johnson’s Great Society, Biden has long believed in government as an instrument for good. Now, with the COVID-19 public health pandemic and the economic carnage it wrought, that philosophy is being put to a fundamental test and Biden’s place in history is in the balance.
He has chosen momentous action over incremental, willing to cast aside visions of a bipartisan Washington in favor of tangible results Biden insists are resonating with Republican voters, if not their elected officials.
“The president was clear about the crisis of democracy and aware of the factors and forces that may try to undermine the American experiment if we are not careful to protect it,” said historian Michael Eric Dyson, who attended the recent session. “There was no question that the president was