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Scenario Straddling: Best Case

November 22nd, 2020 by dk

To get into the winter holiday spirit, let’s play a game. It requires nothing but imagination. It’s called “Scenario Straddling.” Imagine a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario. What happens will almost certainly fall somewhere between.

I will fill this space twice — once half full, once half empty. I will leave it to the editors to choose which appears in print, requesting that they post the other online. Here’s a very quick summary of my scenarios for the presidential race outcome.

BEST: Biden’s habits and gifts of magnanimity makes him the most effective legislating president since LBJ. WORST: Trump creates the American carnage he envisioned and frightened Americans give him four more years to fix it.

BEST: Even before Joseph Biden became our 46th president, it became clear that the Georgia Senate runoffs wouldn’t matter as much as everyone thought. Democrats focused on unseating Sen. Kelly Loeffler and won, shepherded by incoming Secretary of State Stacey Abrams. Sen. David Purdue survived to live another day, without much reason to look forward to it.

Sen. Mitch McConnell retained his majority, but found he couldn’t do much with it. Biden has too many Republican friends in the Senate after 36 years, and VP Kamala Harris knows those he doesn’t. McConnell plays whack-a-mole defense, as Biden peels off one or two Senators to co-sponsor each piece of valuable legislation.

Magnanimity was always how things got done in Washington. We thought the back-slapping had given way to back-stabbing. What we quickly learned is that we haven’t had a truly magnanimous president since George H.W. Bush. Biden offers a night in the Lincoln bedroom, not for Clinton-style financial favors, but for political favors, like LBJ.

Biden’s long history of working with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes things a bit easier, but her majority is thin and her caucus is fractured. Too many Democrats are already worried about reelection, but Biden knows the game. He visits members of Congress in their offices on Independence Avenue — taking selfies, raising funds and profiles.

Leaving nothing to chance, Biden carved himself a backchannel past Pelosi and directly to the House’s Black Caucus. Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond came into the White House as a senior adviser focused on public engagement. “You dance with them that brung ya,” and Biden’s learned some new steps from his many non-white staffers.

Even the conservative justices on the Supreme Court have been impressed. Biden reaches across the aisle even when there’s no visible aisle. Dana Remus became White House counsel. She clerked for conservative stalwart Justice Samuel Alito in 2008. She never burned that bridge. Now her boss in the Oval Office can now walk across it.

Dignity and affability are not opposed when you’re the leader of the free world. Biden admits his missteps with grace and alacrity.

America’s standing is rising again, but this time without a shred of narcissism — borne of youth or family trauma — at the top. Americans haven’t had a deeply self-assured leader since Reagan. Many are surprised how much they’ve missed it.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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