His skills as a fixer are finely honed – but they cannot restore a pre-Trump normality. As president, Biden’s private self, shadowed by loss, must come into its own
Every year after 1975, Joe Biden, his second wife Jill, his sons Beau and Hunter and their growing families, would gather for Thanksgiving on Nantucket island off Cape Cod. Part of the annual ritual was that the Bidens would take a photograph of themselves in front of a quaint old house in the traditional New England style that stood above the dunes on their favourite beach.
In November 2014, when Biden was serving as Barack Obama’s vice-president, he found, where the house should have been, an empty space marked out by yellow police tape. The building, he wrote in his memoir Promise Me, Dad had “finally run out of safe ground and run out of time; it had been swept out into the Atlantic”.