WASHINGTON – President Biden did nothing this weekend.
Well, let’s rephrase: President Biden did nothing alarming This weekend.
There were exactly eight tweets, each rooted in what can best be described as reality. There was a visit to spend time with a sick friend, Bob Dole, a former Republican senator. And there was a stop at church with the grandchildren.
Since Mr. Biden took office, the weekends have been portraits of domestic life – MarioKart with the kids at Camp David, bagels in Georgetown, and football in Delaware. Passionate about Peloton, he has not even played golf. Mr Biden’s obvious lack of interest in generating bold headlines only underscores how Trump’s waist-hole in Washington has created a sense of free time in all areas of the capital. Psychically, if not literally.
While the workload remains (it’s still Washington, after all), people still get a few hours’ sleep during the period formerly known as weekends.
“It went from working 24/7 to sort of not working at all in the blink of an eye,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, Democrat from California and one of the House directors who sued Donald J. Trump in his second indictment, about his first post. -hours of trial. “And it took a little while for my body and mind to calm down.
Mr. Lieu says he’s already back to work at full speed. Among other things, he is pushing for legislation that he says will be drafted to address loopholes Mr. Trump has exploited, including a bill that would create penalties for failure to respond to subpoenas from Congress. .
But first, watch excessively: On the Sunday after the trial ended, Mr. Lieu spent his first few hours without Trump watching episodes of “Snowpiercer.”
Mr Biden, who is focused on his $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, said he also wants to stop discussing Mr Trump. “I don’t want to talk about him anymore,” the president said last week at a CNN town hall in Wisconsin. The reality is a little different. Mr Biden has repeatedly referred to what he called failures of the Trump administration as he sought to gain public patience with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.
There is a parallel in the news industry, where reporters covering this new version of Washington say they are ready to return to the type of journalism that does not involve deciphering a human mood ring. CNN and MSNBC, whose reporters and personalities have spent years challenging Mr. Trump’s policies, have quietly reduced the number of Trump-focused reporters working under contract in recent months.
Mr. Trump of course predicted that the political news complex would crumble without him. Members of this complex say they have some leeway to breathe and, most importantly, to plan.
“As the host of a weekly show, the glaring absence of presidential scandals on Twitter means that I can plan ahead with the hope that our plan will actually be implemented,” said Brian Stelter, a former New York Times reporter who hosts “Reliable Sources” on CNN. “Informally, we used to leave a five minute gap on my Sunday show, we expected some kind of big news to break out on Saturday night. Now, we no longer assume that will happen.
Other journalists welcome the renewed attention to politics.
“A linear policy-making process is always interesting,” Jake Sherman, a Politico veteran and founder of Punchbowl News, said of the relative return to normalcy brought by the Biden era. “When you’re convinced that a rotating cast of characters won’t change the course of the US government, that’s a heartwarming thought.”
New York magazine Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi said she was reconfiguring her relationship with the White House – in particular, the idea that the current president has little interest in undermining his own press officers and political experts .
The New Washington
This weekend, Ms Nuzzi said, she was also surprised to learn that Mr Biden had quietly gone to church. She realized how much she keeps tabs on Mr. Trump’s every move, just in case he turns the pulse news cycle upside down.
“It becomes clear, every day, how much of what happened during that trimester was related to how he was feeling,” Ms. Nuzzi said, “and how much of our day to day life has focused on trying. to understand how he felt. . “
Outside of the isolated worlds of politics and the news media, there is no normal to return to. Washingtonians who don’t have to hang on to every word from the president still struggle to adjust to life in a city where the Capitol and the White House have been essentially militarized and everyday life has been turned upside down. both by the coronavirus and civil unrest.
Amy Brandwein, chef and owner of Centrolina, watched brunches return to downtown on weekends, but she and other restaurateurs struggled for nearly a year to take over the business lost to the pandemic.
She also fears that the political unrest may continue. Ms Brandwein said her plan to install exterior bubble-shaped structures to provide a socially remote dining option was delayed due to violence at the Capitol on January 6. She estimates that she lost around $ 100,000 in business on the days she had to shut down due to the protests. which attracted the Proud Boys and other extremist groups.
Mr Trump may have left the capital, but she fears his supporters still endanger his employees and his business. “I wonder about the future security of downtown or in general in Washington,” she said, “because the Trump movement is still going on.”
As Washington staggers to its feet, it’s clear Mr. Trump is happy to visit the dreams of anyone who suddenly sleeps more.
He issued press releases through his post-presidential office whose targets included not only the entire Democratic Party but also Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. He has sat for interviews on Fox News, repeating disputed or bogus theories about his electoral loss that allies like Sean Hannity have refused to dispute.
And at Mar-a-Lago, his seaside fortress, Mr. Trump always expects a full crowd on the dinner patio to stand up and cheer, just like he did when he did. was in office.
Other Republicans have filled the void left by Mr. Trump’s diminished profile. Much of the past week has been devoted to Washington’s gossip class gathered around an old-fashioned political scandal as if it were a hot campfire: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas s fled to Cancún – Cancún! – as his constituents suffered in a snowstorm and a power outage. Cruz’s hug was perhaps the most glaring sign of a new political era: Mr. Trump wasn’t there to give Mr. Cruz a cover by instinctively turning the spotlight on himself.
But supporters of the former president expect him to end his relative silence – perhaps with his scheduled speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida on Sunday.
Wayne Allyn Root, radio host and frequent visitor to Mar-a-Lago, said Mr. Trump is indebted to Republican expectations of becoming a “kingmaker” for the party in 2022, if he does not become himself. same candidate for 2024.
“It needs time to heal,” Mr. Root said, “and I think the time is about to end.”
In the meantime, a battered and battered capital has adjusted to life at a calmer pace, with calmer activities and words replacing the obscenities, characters, and gibberish that shaped how the days passed. Bagels on Bannon. Grandchildren at golf. Church on covfefe.
Historian Michael Beschloss said it would take some time to readjust to the idea that presidents typically don’t assess their existence hour by hour on how many headlines they can generate.
“It is human nature that to defend themselves, people locked in a fairing car with a reckless driver will have their eyes wide open and their hearts racing, with a lot of adrenaline flowing,” Mr Beschloss said. . “I hope that for most Americans this car ride has now stopped and we can stagger and catch our breath.”