Biden Changes His Own ‘Paradigm’

Biden Changes His Own ‘Paradigm’

The New York Times-US·2021-03-30 17:00

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Credit...Leah Millis/Reuters

On Thursday, at his first news conference as president, Joe Biden did more than just detail his plans and take questions from reporters.

He outlined what amounts to a new political ethic for him, suggesting that big ambition — rather than accommodation, or the “unity” he so often spoke of on the campaign trail — might be his guiding doctrine.

Biden repeated one particularly telling phrase three times in a row — “I want to change the paradigm” — and made it clear that he intended to move ahead with his policy agenda as uncompromisingly as he could, with or without Republican support. It’s a message he is likely to drive home this week, when he appears in Pittsburgh to unveil his proposal for a multitrillion-dollar investment in infrastructure and jobs.

In the process, he is undercutting the exact brand of center-lane neoliberalism that he worked so hard to enshrine, more than four decades ago, as a young senator in the Nixon and Carter years.

“This is an interesting story,” the historian Rick Perlstein, whose books detail the rise of late-20th-century conservatism in American politics, said in an interview. “The story is him turning his back on the ideological direction that he helped lead the Democratic Party into.”

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