We need a Joe Friday presidency – just the facts

Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, along with a ceiling shattering vice-president, Kamala Harris. The first subject will be a breath of fresh air, while we should celebrate Harris’ elevation to her role as a woman who is multiracial, part African-American and part Indian-American.

On CBS Sunday Morning, long time conservative pundit and speech writer, Michael Gerson, noted the Biden presidency will be a return to normal governance with a heavy focus on standard communications of “just the facts.” This reminded me of another Joe, a role on the 1960s police show “Dragnet,” with Jack Webb starring as Detective Joe Friday.

The most consistent line uttered by the deadpan Friday to witnesses when they offered conjecture is “just the facts” usually followed by the appropriate “ma’am” or “sir.” It became so routine, the comedian Johnny Carson had fun with Webb in a take-off skit on his “Tonight” show’ well before Saturday Night Live started.

As the outgoing president rides off into the sunset with his well-packed saddle bag of routine untruthfulness, we are in desperate need of a boringly truthful president. This Joe needs to tediously follow the detective Joe with a consistent and daily stream of “just the facts.”

I am reading the excellent book by historian Jon Meacham called “Soul of America.” In it, he noted that Dwight Eisenhower was worried about being on TV too much as president. He thought Americans would grow fatigued with seeing him so often. He knew real leadership was working together with disparate interests and groups for a common cause and felt going on TV made it more about him. And, Ike knew a lot about leadership as Allied Commander over Europe in WWII.

Contrast that to the outgoing president who cannot stand NOT being the center of attention. Seemingly every issue is made about him, even things that we do not need a president to opine on. We are exhausted by this person and need a break. An old colleague had a line that comes to mind, “when you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember as much.” If the outgoing president did more of that, we would not need to hear from him so much.

I am hoping we can return to a more normal modus operandi where we need not hear from the president every day. People may disagree with his policies, but this Joe is a decent person. But, one thing is for certain, if the 46th president is talking, we will stand a far better chance of hearing the truth than from the 45th one. Just the facts, Joe.

14 thoughts on “We need a Joe Friday presidency – just the facts

  1. I would like to say this is what the vast majority of Americans are hoping for a ‘business as usual President’, but the wretch being sent bag and baggage out of The Whitehouse has spent his entire tenure causing so much division that far too many folk have decided that was ‘business as usual’.
    Thus the USA badly divided.
    For this reason I will hold to the opinion that Joe Biden will be 46th President as Trump was by no rational and mature means even closer to be up to the task and does not deserve to be considered as a President even if by law he was. And let us not forget he did not win the majority of votes in 2016 either.
    Take care Keith

    • Roger, good point. What it will take is shooting straight people, then doing it again the next day and so on. Biden has appointed a large group of experienced people, so he has done well while the outgoing president revealed more of his true colors. Keith

      • It will indeed need people hardened and tempered in the forge of political public service. Folk who have a skill of dismissing whatever the Unholy Church screech with a wave of the hand and something along the lines of ‘Uh-uh’ and then swing the conversation around to the current policy concern. Don’t engage with fools, deluded and snake-oil merchants, while you are convincing the majority- leave that to your supporters.

  2. I’m 100% with you on this, my friend. I never in my life thought I would long for ‘boring’, but I’m ready for a heaping dose of boring, looking forward to the day I can log onto the internet and NOT see a ranting, contorted, disgusting liar at every turn. Just the facts sounds like a winner to me. Fingers crossed that the disturbing right-wing elements crawl back under their rocks soon, though I’m not confident of that happening.

    • Jill, if you think of DDE, he did not wow people, but just did his job. And, he was reelected, as a result. Like all presidents, he was not perfect, but boring, competent and decent would be grand. Keith

      • You’re so right … he was solid, dependable, reliable, trustworthy, but not particularly exciting. I’d rather have his qualities than those of the outgoing jackal any day! Joe Biden is not perfect, and his plan to unite this country may well fail, through no fault of his own, but he is a good man, a decent man, who will give it his all. What more can we ask?

      • Jill, I hope he had his people go on conservative talk shows as well, and answer questions, as did Pete Buttigieg. Keith

  3. I am so looking forward to having Joe Biden and his team leading our country. Even just looking at the list of his appointments makes me feel better. It is probably too much to hope for but I just want the crazies to go away. (Btw, won’t Biden be the 46th president? Hopefully Harris will be #47 at some point in the future).

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