Why a slower start can benefit a new president
Nobody comes into the presidency understanding the pressures of the office
It is hard to think of Joe Biden as a novice. After arriving in Washington as the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history in 1973, Biden remained there for almost five decades, becoming the oldest president ever elected in 2020. The time in between included eight consequential years as the ultimate under-study: vice president to Barack Obama. These metrics demonstrate that few people have risen to the presidency better prepared than Biden. And yet, when he took the oath of office in January, he had exactly as much experience exercising presidential powers as the most inexperienced of his predecessors: none.
For Richard Neustadt, who was a respected 20th century student of the presidency, this was a sobering, even worrisome, reality. Each new administration comes into office with high hopes but confronting a uniquely perilous environment, for which there is no wholly effective preparation. Biden was thus, predictably, susceptible to error.