Something played out on Friday that made for a bit of national news, but which I found to be utterly fascinating. Even uplifting. President Biden took to foot on the streets of Nantucket. It is not often we see the leader of the nation just being himself.
On a day when many people across the country went shopping as the stores attempted to lure them in with sales, Biden was casually strolling the cobblestone streets of the small town. Along the way surprising small business owners by darting into a shop to say hello and making a purchase or two.
This was not some staged photo opportunity, but rather a holiday tradition for the Biden family. For the past 40 years, the Thanksgiving weekend has been spent on the island.
It was raining off and on as he strolled about, carrying his own umbrella as he looked into windows and talked with random folks on the street.
The optics are gold, I readily admit that. There is certainly a political plus to the images and video of someone who we have known for a long time as Joe, being the same person now even though he has the title of President. The point is that the day was not a political spin effort, but rather the President doing that same thing he and his family have done for decades on this holiday weekend.
To me, that is most refreshing.
When Saturday started to wind down with shopping the Biden family did what they have always done on the day after Thanksgiving. They all attending Nantucket’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
Modern presidents are often cocooned and shut off from such experiences. So to see Biden stroll about the streets that he and his family have long known, and participate in the weekend like millions of his fellow citizens were doing, was restorative to a nation that has felt the harshness of a pandemic. And too much raw politics.
We all have those mental images of what constitutes normalcy and stability when it comes to national leadership. We all have those flashbacks to President Ford making breakfast or the Carter family attending church. Such moments caught in time are important as we know our democracy is made up ‘of the people’.
Over the past presidency, we lost that touchstone to real America. So it does matter now that the average person can identify with the one who sits in the Oval Office. A man who can even carry his own umbrella.
And so it goes.