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Meet the (probable) next US president

Joe Biden at age 10 from Wikimedia commons cropped 575x375
By Jon Hay, Lewis McLellan, Mariam Meskin, Sam Kerr, Toby Fildes
06 Nov 2020

Many have heard of Frost/Nixon, a great play — and later a film — based on the real interviews David Frost did with US president Richard Nixon after his impeachment and resignation. But here's a 1987 BBC interview by David Frost with Joe Biden, before his first tilt at the presidency.

It’s a fascinating and often touching insight into the man who is surely going to be the next president.

The bereavement Biden suffered when his wife and daughter were killed is well known. He also talks about his stutter — refreshing from someone from the US political class, many of whom try their best to seem Masters of the Universe. To balance it up, read the New York Timesmore caustic take on Biden’s first run.

Meanwhile, the world waits impatiently for the election result. That includes capital market participants, many of whom just want a clear result. With all the noise about president Donald Trump challenging the result in court, it is unlikely he would be able to overturn the vote. 

While many people have memories of 2000 and Bush versus Gore, that case confirmed the rights of states to run their own elections. As the San Francisco Chronicle explains, the states are happy with the processes this year and that means no matter how many challenges Trump brings, a court is unlikely to rule against the principle of states’ rights, protected and enshrined in the US constitution.

Many are astounded how long it has taken for votes, especially postal ballots, to be counted. Some predict it could take a week. This agonising delay has fuelled fears of civil unrest in the lead-up to and after the official result. Pulitzer Prize-winning blogger Glenn Greenwald — famous for his work on the Edward Snowden US intelligence leaks story from 2013 — explores what he sees as disgraceful weaknesses in the US voting process and pours scorn on the failed pollsters.

For an entertaining break from the grotesque US political melodrama, have a dose of the UK’s clownish crowd-pleaser, Boris Johnson. Many may feel they’ve heard all they want to about this pantomime character. This article is for them. Rory Stewart, the surprise challenger who gave Johnson a run for his money in the 2019 contest to be Conservative leader (and hence prime minister), reviews for the Times Literary Supplement the latest, apparently sycophantic, biography of Johnson by Tom Bower. Stewart has seen Johnson up close and has a similar repertoire of Classical allusions. Watch the sparks fly!

However important politics may seem, society is the audience as well as the comedians on stage. Coronavirus infections are continuing to rise around the world. It’s easy to leap for the moral high ground of demanding stricter controls on behaviour to limit the virus’s spread. But it’s important to count the cost of such restrictions too, since they fall most heavily on the poor and disadvantaged. Closing schools is particularly controversial, since the evidence for children spreading the disease is muddy. All too clear, sadly, as this moving article by Propublica makes clear, is the evidence that school closures have devastating consequences for children with disadvantaged backgrounds and unstable home lives.

By Jon Hay, Lewis McLellan, Mariam Meskin, Sam Kerr, Toby Fildes
06 Nov 2020