Saturday 28 November 2020

Dutch media: can Biden bring relief to US after Trump and Covid?

Montage of Donald Trump (left) and Joe Biden (right) speaking to audiences.

Photos: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

The next US president Joe Biden faces a baptism of fire as he tackles a global pandemic, a looming economic crisis and social unrest, Dutch commentators say as they survey the landscape of the post-Trump era.

Biden will struggle to reassure disgruntled Trump supporters who question the legitimacy of his election victory and perceive him as a closet socialist, even if the worst fears of rioting and social breakdown are unlikely to come true, Bas Blokker writes in NRC.

‘Most inhabitants of the American suburbs won’t wake up on January 21 and see them being set on fire by left-wing radicals and anti-racists. Most oil companies will see their wells and fracking installations will keep producing oil and gas.

‘The stock market won’t collapse, just as it didn’t when Trump became president. But the poorest section of the working population, who have seen their jobs go abroad in recent decades or have had to close their businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic won’t thrive immediately under President Biden.’

In De Volkskrant, New York resident and writer Arnon Grunberg challenges the idea that the Trump presidency was an aberration of US history. The outgoing president’s foreign policy was in keeping with previous administrations that held back international co-operation on issues such as climate change and rejected the authority of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Grunberg argues.

Trump lost, says Grunberg, mainly because his rhetoric widened the country’s divisions. ‘A president, even in America, is just as much a symbolic priest, a preacher, a shepherd who in verbal terms needs to bring his flock closer together. Trump refused to fulfil this role and has been punished for it.’

‘Sworn to revenge’

Steve Okkerman in Trouw says that while Biden struck a conciliatory tone as he claimed victory and called for the harsh language of the last four years to be tempered, the 71 million voters who backed Trump will be harder to win over.

‘Under Obama they went for all-or-nothing politics, they are on course to retain the Senate, they dominate the Supreme Court and at their centre is a frustrated Donald Trump, sworn to revenge. Co-operation? War, more like,’ he writes.

BNR radio focuses on the question of whether Trump will concede the race, concluding he is more likely to press ahead with his legal challenges to the result even though they had little chance of success.

‘A recount in practice makes little difference and there is little evidence for the fraud cases,’ says commentator Koen Petersen. ‘I think that numerically the chance of success is small.’

Colleague Ruth Oldenziel says Trump’s track record suggest he is unlikely to throw in the towel, not least because a number of investigations are waiting for him once he loses the protection of the presidential office.

‘The political cases such as influencing and improper use of the White House, the cases about his financial empire and the cases concerning sexual assault and intimidation’ will occupy his time, says Oldenziel, adding that he could seek to do a deal with the Democrats.

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