Phew! America and the watching world breathed a humongous sigh of relief this Wednesday when President Donald Trump mounted the last remaining step on the boarding stairway and, after a brief wave of goodbye, boarded Air Force One and flew into his Florida sunset. It was the moment America had held in palpitating suspense, fearing [...]


America rises to a brand new dawn after braving the Trump nightmare


Phew! America and the watching world breathed a humongous sigh of relief this Wednesday when President Donald Trump mounted the last remaining step on the boarding stairway and, after a brief wave of goodbye, boarded Air Force One and flew into his Florida sunset.

It was the moment America had held in palpitating suspense, fearing until the eleventh hour, that the usually peaceful transition of presidential power would be marred by violence; that the symbolic ritual staged when the baton changes hands and the sacred flame continues to burn undiminished would be scarred and snuffed by ferocious gales, howling at the capitol gates, screaming that the election had been won by fraud.

To pre-empt the unthinkable, the National Guard had already taken their positions in many state capitals. The country was on high alert not against some expeditionary foreign force   but to prevent home brewed trouble stemming from one man going home after getting the sack as President from the American people. And as the nation watched Air Force One taking off from Andrews Base in Maryland with Trump aboard and disappearing from sight, the presumed threat the man’s departure had presented also dissipated.

FRACTURED AMERICA’S POLLITICAL HEALER: 78 year old Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America with his second wife First Lady Jill by his side

The only boom of guns renting the downtown Washington DC air where Biden was saying his prayers at a local historic church, were the blasts of the 21gun salute ordered by Trump in his own honour. Biden and his family, enjoined in religious prayer, were attending mass at the Cathedral of Matthew the Apostle, along with Vice President–elect Kamala Harris and her family, before the swearing in ceremony before the Capitol Hill building.

It was hard to imagine that this decorated venue made ready for the presidential inauguration, was the bloody scene of violence just 14 days ago when a group of ultra-right extremists stormed the building and attacked the US Congress while it was in session counting the electoral vote which would have finally confirmed and formalized Biden’s presidential win.

Answering Trump’s call to action, thousands had poured into the Capitol on January 5 and 6 to show solidarity to his claim that the election had been stolen from him, that the cup of victory had been usurped from his lips at the eleventh hour.

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On the 6th at the ‘Save America’ rally held at a park adjacent to the White House, they had been spurred on by slogans ‘we are coming for you’, ‘trial by combat’ and ‘total war’ which were further frenzied by Trump’s undisguised battle cry to arms when he said ‘fight like hell’.

In his speech to the gathered crowd, President Trump minced no words but gave it straight, firing from the hip when he declared: ‘’We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. ‘’

After his lengthy swansong had ended, and he had left the park, the crowd, thousands strong, began the march to the Capitol Hill building. Here the Trump mob turned ugly. They soon occupied, vandalised and looted some parts of the building which they held for several hours.

It was an unprecedented attack on the nation’s capital, levelled against its lawmakers; and by the time the dust had settled on this shocking incident, it had claimed at least five lives and had also erased the last vestiges of sympathy for Donald Trump and his claim to be the victor.

Trump, 75, had finally burnt his boats; and had endangered his prospects of making a comeback in 2025. The future belonged to an even older man: to Biden who, at the age of 78 – an age at which some men desist from buying green bananas even at a discounted price for fear of hitting the bucket before they turn yellow – became the oldest man to occupy America’s highest office.

Unlike the man flying on Air force One to his Florida home that momentous Wednesday, Biden was not born with the proverbial silver spoon dangling from his mouth. Neither were his stars so aligned at birth that they portended a rosy future untouched by personal grief whose visitations became the rule rather than the exception.

Instead his remarkable rise to the topmost office in the world had been one long obstacle course of heartbreaks, a marathon of tragic hurdles.   To overcome the traumatic barriers the Fates threw often in his path and still bear his grievous loss with equanimity, would have taxed not merely his physical stamina to the hilt but drained his emotional well of endurance to the dregs as well.

While lesser mortals, when confronted with such serial adversity, would have surrendered the ghost much earlier, Biden weathered the storms stoically; and his resolve, though stained scarlet with sorrow, did not wither nor wilt but remained unshaken to pursue his    elusive quest to keep his rendezvous with destiny at the Oval Office.

Consider the long catalogue of grief, of setbacks, of pain and anguish that has doggedly stalked his chequered life; of how lasting sorrow has shadowed his every footstep and crippled his progress.

Biden was born November 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four siblings. The family eventually relocated to Delaware, but Biden’s childhood was not easy. He was handicapped with a debilitating stammer which made him socially backwards and the obvious target of school bullies.”

He first met Neilia Hunter in the Bahamas in 1965 while he was on spring break from Syracuse University where he was studying Law. They married the following year and had three children, two sons named Beau and Hunter and daughter Naomi. They were the epitome of the all American Family and presented the picture of happiness.

In 1972 Biden, who had by then taken to politics, created a major upheaval in the local scene when he won the US Senate election in Delaware at just 30 years of age. In a stunning upset he had wrested the Senate seat from its two term incumbent. But in the midst of joyous celebrations, indelible tragedy struck to leave cold and bare the family hearth and home; and Biden devastated.

On December 18, just a month after his sensational election win, his wife Neilia went driving with sons Beau and Hunter and daughter Naomi, in search of a Christmas tree to adorn their home during Christmas. They didn’t go far. Barely a mile away from their home, a tractor-trailer slammed into their car. The mother and three children were rushed to the hospital where 30-year-old Neilia and one-year-old baby daughter Naomi were pronounced dead. The sons Beau and Hunter survived the crash but sustained major injuries.

Biden was shattered. The accident drove him to contemplate suicide, to end his wretched life by jumping off the city bridge. Biden said later, ‘it was the boys who kept me going.’ He also recalled how his wife had forebodings of the impending tragedy and had asked him, “What’s going to happen, Joey? Things are too good.” To this day, he does not work on Dec. 18 to commemorate the day Neilia and Naomi died.

Then in February 1988, he suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms. The results of a spinal tap showed blood in his spinal fluid, meaning an artery in his brain was likely leaking, Biden wrote. A CT scan revealed an aneurysm lying below the base of his brain. The chances of surviving the surgery were 50 percent, but the likelihood of waking up with serious deficits was even more concerning.

That May, Biden underwent a second surgery, which was a success. But his right eyelid drooped and the right side of his forehead was immobile. Initially, doctors weren’t sure if his “dead face” would be permanent. But six weeks later, the muscles in his forehead and cheek began to work again.

Meanwhile, though his personal life was shrouded in sorrow, his political career continued to soar. After his entry to the Senate in 1972, he was re-elected to six more senate terms and already a shot at the presidency was in his ambitious sights. Although he had failed 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns, he was eventually asked by Barack Obama to be his vice president in 2008 which he accepted. It was during his second term as Vice President that stalking tragedy crept through his heavily armed circle of protection to cruelly stab him in the heart again.

His eldest son Beau, who had survived the crash that had claimed his mother and sister, was diagnosed with cancer in the brain and died at the age of 46 in 2015. Biden was heartbroken and inconsolable. His surviving only son, Hunter, 50, is a different kettle of fish. His struggles with drug and alcohol and messy family and business entanglements, including his affair with his brother Beau’s widow Hallie have been relentlessly chronicled and have exposed Biden to embarrassment and attack.

The only saving grace in Biden’s personal family life is his second wife Jill, whom he met in 1975 and married in 1977 but only after he had proposed to her five times. They have a daughter Ashley, now 40.

With such a heavy load of tragedies to bear which would have labeled him as ‘Bad News Joe’; with such a lacklustre image as Barrack Obama’s sidekick, a role played faithfully, albeit, blandly for eight long years staling him in the public eye; with such a swash buckling rival as Trump to be triumphed over, a rival  who, for all his gaffes,  and racist and sexist prejudices, still commanded a sizable chunk of the white, right American vote; with his advancing  years held against him, what possible appeal did the American people see in Joe’ s blue eyes?

But, as the dog eared, well used Bible, Biden swore upon at his inauguration, would have it, the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Biden may not have been the ideal candidate but he was there at the right time when he was most needed.

Perhaps the American people wished for a return to the old established values America had best represented in her Liberal days of yore and which Biden, as the establishment’s living embodiment, echoed at the climax of his inaugural address on Wednesday, when he declared:

“Together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. An American story of decency and dignity. Of love and of healing. Of greatness and of goodness. May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us.

“The story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment. That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived. That our America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world.”

President Biden’s story is a story of the past: a story of promise for the future. Especially the part of being a beacon of liberty to the world again. Shine on, Mr. President, shine on.


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