The reverse may also be true.
President Joe Biden began the week as a feather duster. Whether the assessment was fair or not, strong Republican demonstrations in Virginia and elsewhere were widely seen as an early report for Biden and the Democrats – and the grades were not good.
As always, politicians and the commentators – and yes, I raise my hand here – were charitable with their diagnoses and generous with their advice.
Too awake. Too weak. Too stuck in internal strife when two major laws that form an essential part of Biden’s agenda stalled in a congress that Democrats narrowly control.
Moderates complained that Biden had been led astray by progressives. Progressives complained that Biden had been throttled by moderates.
Meanwhile, Americans still wavering over the effects of a bruise pandemic, in the words of an old country tune, asked for “a little less talk and much more action.”
That is why Biden’s victory over the Infrastructure Act, which had long been held hostage by warring House Democrats, was so important.
I’m sure the President would have preferred an earlier victory – one that took place months ago, or at least at a different time than a Friday night. But after months of cluttered public quarreling in his party and a long day of excitement, a big win is still a big win.
In the end, Biden worked hard for it. Reinforced by Tuesday’s election results, he immediately pressured the House Democrats to call for a call to get the votes he and President Nancy Pelosi needed to get the most expansive investment in America’s worn and outdated infrastructure for decades.
From a political point of view (it is, after all, the prism through which Washington assesses most), the passage of the bill gave a president whose approval ratings have been declining a much-needed boost.
Now, Biden’s job is to move beyond the ugly legislative sausage making and convert his victory into tangible signs of progress, whether it’s roads, bridges or broadband that Americans can see in their own communities.
Sketchy Democrats complain that Biden and his team have done too little to trumpet their successes – including the U.S. bailout law, which helped keep the economy afloat and provided lifelines to millions of Americans through stimulus checks and a landmark family tax deduction that is expected to reduce child poverty in half.
But the Delta variant, natural disasters like Hurricane Ida and the fallout from the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan prevented the Biden administration from finding the right opportunity to sell the legislation along with the rest of his agenda to the American people over the summer and fall .
Now, after adopting yet another major legislative package, Biden and the Democratic Party have a new chance to make clear what they have delivered. It is imperative that they take advantage of it.
That does not mean that this victory is a tonic for all of Biden’s political challenges. He still has to nail the last and most difficult plank in his economic program, the larger law on social spending and climate action, which was held for months due to objections from two Senate moderates, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
The stubborn Covid-19 pandemic has also created long-term economic and social disruptions that throw a joke across the country and continue to weigh on Biden and the Democrats.
Chosen as a moderate, Biden has at times been drawn further to the left than some of those who supported him would like. Progressives, meanwhile, have their own list of complaints, including unrealized targets on everything from suffrage to immigration reform.
It was a significant benchmark for Biden and the Democrats, who need to show solid work if they have any hope of cutting through the brutal mid-term headwind of 2022.
Odds are that there are several forty days ahead. Such is the nature of a presidency in busy and turbulent times, with small majorities in every chamber of Congress.
But in the next few days, Joe Biden is at least a peacock again.