Beachboy Biden thrives on Bali vibes

Beachboy Biden thrives on Bali vibes


It could be the beaches and palatial hotels. It could be Chinese President Xi Jinping’s warm smile. But there’s no doubt: Joe Biden is enjoying his Bali G20.

“I don’t think I’m going home,” Biden joked to his host, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and gushed about the beach that stretches out in front of his hotel.

Later Monday, at an evening press conference in a tropical garden, Biden’s first words to reporters were, “Welcome to Bali.”

With a chuckle, he said he seemed to be referring to what everyone was experiencing: the cocktail of sweltering heat, stunning decor and lush nature that felt like a million miles from the stark formality of the White House.

TV journalists used towels to wipe sweat from their faces. A chorus of crickets was so loud that even the waterfalls in the garden became inaudible. And the tiredness of flying to the other side of the world to climb back-to-back peaks in Egypt, Cambodia and Bali had set in for many.

Biden himself croakedly admitted to having “caught a little cold.”

However, the overwhelming mood for the veteran Democrat was pure Bali — a sense of relief.

– ‘Ready to play’ –

A little over a week ago, Biden faced the prospect of traveling in the midterms in the wake of forecast humiliating election losses.

Those predictions proved wrong, however, and he instead spends the trip celebrating his party by keeping the Senate and, even more surprisingly, limiting Republican opponents to narrow victories in the House of Representatives.

Even better for Biden, the election represented a rejection of Donald Trump-backed Republicans and their campaign to cast doubt on US democracy. This reiterates Biden’s overarching message that his defeat by Trump in 2020 was no ordinary contest, but the beginning of an existential struggle for the country’s future.

Last week’s election “sent a very strong message around the world that the United States is ready to play,” Biden said.

The results signaled that “we’re going to be fully engaged in the world and that we actually know what’s at stake.”

– Superpower Smile –

Biden brought that confidence – and that sunny outlook – to his meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the G20.

The men know each other from their long political careers, but this was the first face-to-face conversation since Biden became president. That was truly the biggest win on a day when expectations were deliberately kept low, according to US officials.

With a smile, Biden approached the Chinese leader and shook his hand. They looked more like old friends who had met in a beautiful tropical resort than adversaries.

“I’m really glad to see you in person again. We’ve spent a lot of time together and — back when we were both vice presidents, and it’s just great to see you,” Biden said.

Xi is not known for his personal warmth in public. And having recently secured a third term as President of China, he is speaking from a position of increasing strength.

But he too seemed to sense the island vibes.

Noting that he and Biden had exchanged many phone calls and letters, he added that nothing “can replace an in-person exchange.”

“We finally have this face-to-face meeting,” he said.

The fact that both men “shook hands and smiled” caught the attention of English-language Chinese state media, the Global Times.

“This long-awaited scene between China and the United States has timely eased and comforted the world’s tense emotions,” the enthusiastic report said.

– The shade –

Even Biden was quick to warn that Washington and Beijing will not just be “Kumbaya” from now on.

There was no sign of movement in the dangerous Taiwan standoff. No one is expecting a thaw in the strained and increasingly competitive trade relationship.

At the G20 summit, he is struggling to get countries outside the West to step up pressure on Russia over Ukraine.

At home, Biden’s halftime victory lap will likely soon meet the harsh reality of life with a Republican house.

Even with a tenuous majority, the party’s far-right wing is itching to turn the final two years of Biden’s first term into a political war zone.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump timed his expected announcement Tuesday night in Florida that he will run for the presidency again in 2024 — just before the same time Wednesday in Bali that Biden is boarding Air Force One to return to Washington .

For a few days, however, Biden can enjoy his wins — and the beach.

“I guess you all go swimming from here,” he teased traveling journalists. “It is not far.”

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