WASHINGTON – President Biden did nothing this weekend.
Let’s rephrase: President Biden did nothing alarming this weekend.
There were exactly eight tweets, each of which was rooted in reality. There was a visit to hang out with a sick friend, Bob Dole, the former Republican senator. And there was a stop at the church with the grandchildren.
Since Mr Biden took office, the weekends have been portraits of domesticity – MarioKart with the children at Camp David, bagels in Georgetown and soccer in Delaware. As a peloton fanatic, he hasn’t even played golf. Mr Biden’s demonstrable lack of interest in generating bold headlines only underscores how much the Trump hole in Washington has created a sense of leisure in every area of the capital. Mentally, if not literally.
Although the workload continues (after all, this is still Washington), people still sleep a few hours in what was formerly known as the weekend.
“It went from working around the clock to sort of unemployment in an instant,” said Representative Ted Lieu, a California Democrat and one of the property managers who persecuted Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment, of his first-hour post. “And it took a while for my body and mind to calm down.”
Mr Lieu says he is already back on top. Among other things, he is pushing for laws that he says are being written to fill loopholes that Mr Trump has taken advantage of, including a invoice that would create penalties for not responding to subpoenas from Congress.
But first binge-watching: On the Sunday after the trial ended, Mr. Lieu spent his first trump-free hours watching episodes of “Snowpiercer”.
Mr Biden, who is focused on his $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package, has said he too no longer wants to talk about 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 pointed out what he called the Trump administration’s neglect in trying to gain patience among the public with the introduction 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 kind of journalism that is not about deciphering a human mood ring. CNN and MSNBC, whose journalists and personalities have questioned Mr Trump’s guidelines for years, have been quietly reducing the number of Trump-focused journalists working on contracts in recent months.
Mr Trump, of course, predicted that without him the political news complex would collapse. Members of this complex say they have some room to breathe and, crucially, to plan.
“As the host of a weekly show, the apparent absence of the president’s Twitter scandals means I can plan ahead that our plan will actually be implemented,” said Brian Stelter, a former New York Times reporter who moderates CNN. “Informally, we left a five-minute hole on my Sunday show and expected big news to come up on Saturday evening. Now we no longer assume that will happen. “
Other journalists welcome the renewed attention to politics.
“A linear political decision-making process that’s still interesting,” said Jake Sherman, a Politico veteran and founder of Punchbowl News, of the relative return to normal that the Biden era brought about. “If you’re confident that changing casts won’t change the course of the American government, that’s a comforting thought.”
Olivia Nuzzi, a Washington correspondent for New York Magazine, said she had reconfigured her relationship with the White House – specifically the idea that the current president has little interest in undermining his own press secretaries and policy 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 closely she had kept an eye on Mr. Trump’s every move, just in case he spontaneously turned the message cycle upside down.
“It becomes clear every day how much that happened during this one term of office, what has to do with how he felt,” said Ms. Nuzzi, “and how much our daily life was focused on getting a feeling for it, how he felt. ”
Outside of the isolated worlds of politics and the news media, there is no normalcy to return to. Washingtoners who don’t have to hold on to every word the president say are still struggling to adapt to life in a city where the Capitol and White House have been essentially militarized and where daily life has been both caused by the coronavirus and others was troubled by civil unrest.
Amy Brandwein, a cook and owner of Centrolina, watched brunch goers return to downtown on the weekends, but she and other restaurateurs have struggled for almost a year to regain the business lost by the pandemic.
She also fears that the political turmoil will continue. Ms. Brandwein said her plans to install bubble-like structures outdoors to provide a socially distant dining option were delayed due to the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. She estimates she lost about $ 100,000 in business on days it had to close due to protests that attracted the Proud Boys and other extremist groups.
Mr. Trump may have disappeared from the capital, but she fears his supporters will continue to endanger their employees and their business. “I wonder about future security in downtown, or in DC in general,” she said, “because the Trump movement is still going on.”
When Washington gets to his feet, it is clear that Mr. Trump is happy to be chasing the dreams of someone who suddenly gets more sleep.
He has issued post-presidency press releases through his office targeting not only the entire Democratic Party but also Kentucky Republican leader Senator Mitch McConnell. He has sat for interviews on Fox News and reiterated controversial or untrue theories about his loss of the election that allies like Sean Hannity did not want to question.
And in Mar-a-Lago, his fortress by the sea, Mr. Trump still expects a full crowd to stand on the terrace of dinner and applaud, just as he did when he was in office.
Other Republicans have filled the void that Mr. Trump’s degraded profile has left. A nice part of the past week was dedicated to the gossiping class in Washington, who gathered around an old-fashioned political scandal like it was a warm campfire: Senator Ted Cruz from Texas fled to Cancun – Cancun! – while its constituents suffered during a snow storm and power outage. The Cruz caper was perhaps the strongest sign of a new political era yet: Mr. Trump wasn’t there to cover Mr. Cruz by instinctively turning the spotlight on himself.
But the former president’s supporters expect him to end his relative silence – perhaps with his planned address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday.
Wayne Allyn Root, a radio host and frequent visitor to Mar-a-Lago, said Mr. Trump was committed to Republican expectations of becoming a “kingmaker” for the party in 2022 if he didn’t become a 2024 candidate himself.
“It takes time to heal,” said Root, “and I think that time is coming to an end.”
In the meantime, troubled and troubled capital has got used to life at a calmer pace. Quieter activities and words replace the profanity, characters, and gibberish that used to shape the way days were passed. Bagels over Bannon. Grandchildren about golf. Church over covfefe.
Historian Michael Beschloss said it would take some time to revert to the idea that hour-to-hour presidents typically don’t judge their existence by how many headlines they can generate.
“It is human nature that people locked in a speeding car with a ruthless driver have their eyes wide open and their hearts racing with lots of adrenaline flowing,” said Beschloss. “I hope that for most Americans this car ride has now stopped and we can stagger and catch our breath.”