“President Biden”, a PBS Frontline profile of the new US President, screens tonight on Four Corners.
The long road to the White House
“I don’t think any president has faced the problems that Joe Biden will face as the new President – to do it when the country is divided as it is.” Columnist and author
Just days after supporters of outgoing president Donald Trump smashed their way into the home of US democracy in a failed bid to halt the transfer of power, Joseph R Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
“This man who’s wanted to be president for half a century and failed to do it over and over and now finds himself at this moment of really abject national crisis, and that’s the moment when the country sees him for the first time really.” Biden biographer
On Monday Four Corners brings you a political and personal portrait of the man now leading America.
“We’re talking about a half-century in public life, during which he experienced, multiple times, setbacks, any one of which would have, and has, driven out candidates into leaving public life.” Political columnist
The program charts his rise from a hardscrabble childhood where he faced bullying and discrimination based on a severe stutter, to his discovery of the power of politics.
“Many people would say Biden’s stutter is among his most visible weaknesses, if not number one. But it’s also a source of his strength. It’s also the main source of his grit and his determination to just be there competing.” Senior Editor and writer
At the age of 29 he was elected to the US Senate after galvanising the black community to support him when the odds were against him.
“We, the Bidens, we had no money. We had no power or influence. We didn’t know anybody who was a big name who could help us.” Sister and campaign manager
From the beginning he made it clear he wanted the Presidency.
“His ambitions were never even thinly disguised. He talked about it not long after he came to the Senate and made clear that being in the Senate itself was not the only thing he might want to do in life.” Chief correspondent
Behind the political success, the program shows how his private life has been marked by tragedy.
“You don’t lose a wife and child at the point in life that he did and not grow from it. You learn from those kinds of experiences.” Senior Democrat
Despite his self-belief, his career was marked by missteps and at times, public humiliation.
“Half a dozen times in his career he faces moments like this where a normal person looks in the mirror and says, ‘This is never going to happen for me, either because my time has passed or because I’ve humiliated myself or because I’ve been on the wrong side of an issue.’ And he just keeps coming back.” Author
Then, at the age of 76 following a distinguished turn as Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden announced he would run against Donald Trump in 2020. As the program documents, his faltering personal performance almost brought him unstuck.
“Through the Democratic primaries, he was not at the top of his game. He kind of staggered along. He didn’t do terribly well when the voting started.” Chief correspondent
Against the odds, he gained momentum and won the Presidency. Now he faces the huge task of uniting a bitterly divided nation.
“Joe Biden will face as the new President: the pandemic; a weakened economy; the racial issues that are on the table. To do it when the country is as divided as it is will test every bit of what Joe Biden has learned over nearly 50 years in public office.” Political reporter
Monday 8th February at 8.30pm.