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LONDON — President JOE BIDEN’His entire political career—indeed, much of his adult life—has been marked by personal loss. He has given her a rare ability to speak about death with reassuring authority at funerals and memorials alike.
But over the past 24 hours, Biden has kept a low profile as he joined several hundred other world leaders in a funeral that was perhaps the most-watched broadcast of all time. The president had no role to play in the commemoration of the Queen’s life ISABEL II for ceremonies at Westminster Abbey in London. She remained largely off center stage.
Such a role makes sense. The funeral was a royal affair, prepared for the country’s longest-serving monarch. There was no direct link to the President of the United States. To that point, Biden is the first US president to attend a British state funeral since World War II, the Boston University history professor said. ARIANNE CHERNOCK, whose specialty is modern British and European history. When Elizabeth’s father, the king George VIdied 1952, president HARRY TRUMAN envoy Secretary of State DEAN ACHESSON to attend the funeral. President LINDO JOHNSON sent to the then president of the Supreme Court EARL WARREN a WINSTON CHURCH1965 funeral.
“The optics are important and the message can be very important at these momentous funerals,” Chernock said. And yet, Biden acknowledges that “this is not his time. This is royal family time, and he’s there to pay his respects and show American support.”
Biden was not the only American who came to England to offer his condolences. Others have traveled across the pond in the last week to pay tribute to the queen’s long service.
one of them was RACHEL NORTH GREEN, a 30-year-old financial marketer from Topeka, Kansas. She decided on Thursday to fly to London, with the blessing of her husband and boss, and waited 10 hours in a row to see the queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall. The line sometimes stretched for five miles.
Although his age makes the younger generation of royals such as princes WILLIAM Y HARRY — more accessible to her, Nordgren said she still feels a connection to the queen, who ascended the throne when she was just 25 years old. She said that the queen’s life story was something that helped her overcome the pain when, at the age of 25, she lost her mother.
“I remember those early days of grief, just thinking, ‘You know, if Lizzie was my age and could get up and run the country, I can get up and go to work today,'” he said. “So I think during that time, I really developed a lot of respect for her and the incredible job that she did of her despite everything of hers getting in her way.”
When she finally reached the queen’s coffin, Nordgren was struck with emotion.
“The solemnity and serenity of that Hall, and the coffin draped in the Royal Standard and crowned with the Crown Jewels,” he said. “I bowed and cried and said ‘thank you’ in my heart.”
Nordgren acknowledged that the United States and the United Kingdom have a complicated relationship.
“Still, this country is our heritage. It’s pretty much where America’s roots began, so we’ll always have that in common,” she said. She was surrounded by her “queue mates,” the new friends she made while she waited hours in line together.
“The British Empire has a long, complicated and sometimes brutal history. There are many flaws in the institution,” he said. But being in line, in the country celebrating the queen’s life, “has reiterated to me a human connection that many of us are feeling right now.”
Biden, for his part, steered clear of history and politics in brief remarks he made while attending the queen’s funeral. He and the first lady paid their respects in Westminster Hall and then each signed the official book of condolences at Lancaster House. After that, he did something he does in moments of grief: he drew on his own story of loss and suffering to offer some words of wisdom and a shred of hope.
“Our hearts go out to the royal family – King Charles and the entire family. It’s a loss that leaves a giant hole,” Biden said. “And sometimes you think you’ll never get over it. But as I told the king, she will be with him every step of the way.”
SEND US A MESSAGE — Are MARTINA ANNA STRONG WEAVERBiden’s candidate to serve as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates? We want to hear from you and we can post your response tomorrow. Send us an email to [email protected].
This is from the reader alex penler. Which first lady wrote a memoir from the perspective of her dog? Yes, you read that right, she dogs perspective.
(Answer at the bottom.)
POTUS ABROAD: as our colleague JONATHAN LEMIRE noted, it’s a bit of a foreign relations whirlwind for the president right now. He and the First Lady JILL BIDEN attended the queen’s funeral today, then got on a plane and landed back in the US around 4:30 p.m. But there isn’t much downtime for Biden. She will travel to New York tomorrow, where she will attend the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Her big speech there is on Wednesday.
WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE WANTS YOU TO READ: NBC News approval ratings for the president that were released over the weekend. The poll “finds that 45 percent of registered voters approve of President Biden’s overall job (up 3 points from last month), versus 52 percent who disapprove (down 3 points). It is Biden’s highest approval rating in the poll since last October.” White House Chief of Staff RON KLAIN retweeted an article highlighting the numbers.
THAT THE WHITE HOUSE NO I WANT TO READ: This WSJ story by RACHEL WOLF reaching out to a community in Louisiana that is feeling the effects of inflation on its grocery bills. “We spent an afternoon talking to shoppers and reviewing grocery receipts outside Rouses Market in Houma, nearly 60 miles southwest of New Orleans, painting a picture of the trade-offs and difficult decisions families face in paying utility bills. ever-increasing food,” the article. reads “Grocery prices were 13.5% higher in August compared to a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is the biggest 12-month jump since March 1979. With no relief in sight, many consumers say they are struggling to keep up.”
FIRST IN THE WEST WING PLAYBOOK: Kristin Lynch has joined the Treasury Department as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, DANIEL LIPPMAN has learned. She is a student of the Sens offices. Cory Booker (DN.J.) and JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-Colo.), as well as the presidential campaigns of Booker and HILLARY CLINTON. He also recently earned a Masters in Public Policy from Princeton.
— Jessica Jennings has started as a spokesperson for USAID, Lippman has also learned. She most recently served as chief communications officer for DC Public Schools and is an alumna of the Biden-Harris inauguration, the Democratic National Convention, and the 2016 Clinton campaign.
— VANESSA VALDIVIA, First lady Jill Biden’s new press secretary and special assistant to the president began her first day on the job Monday. Valdivia recently served as the Senator’s director of communications. ALEX PADILLA (D-California).
JUST TO CLARIFY… The president said the pandemic was “over” during his “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday, but an administration official told CNN Betsy Klein that statement does not indicate a change in White House policy.
Biden’s statement was criticized by some public health experts who point out that hundreds of Americans continue to die every day from covid-19. But the president drew praise from some experts who pointed out that high vaccination rates and prior infection, as well as the availability of treatments, have made the disease much less dangerous.
Writing in New York magazine, ROSS BARKAN he argued that “on the facts and politics of the pandemic, and yes, they both matter, Biden is absolutely right. The pandemic will end because all pandemics end. They relax. The virus becomes endemic. Biden’s definition of the pandemic is political, even psychological, and is the common sense now followed by millions of people around the world.”
Marty Walsh in 2024? (Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi)
Pentagon opens comprehensive review of clandestine psychological operations (Ellen Nakashima of WaPo)
Jerome Powell’s Inflation Whisperer: Paul Volcker (WSJ’s Nick Timiraos)
We’ve previously highlighted the musical talents of Biden’s science adviser, FRANCIS COLLINS. But what we didn’t know was that he was what’s more a theater child in the past.
“My father was a drama teacher, my mother was a playwright, so when I was 5 years old I was like, ‘Okay, it’s your turn. You’re going to go on stage and you’re going to play this part,'” Collins said on an episode of the podcast, “From where does it STEM,” in February. “I loved that. I thought it was fantastic.”
Collins was so into the arts that he hadn’t really considered a path in science until he took a chemistry class.
“If you had told me when I was 10 years old, ‘One day you’re going to be a government employee running a $42 billion a year operation,’ I would have said, ‘You’ve gone crazy,'” he confessed.
First woman BARBARA BUSH wrote a book from the perspective of MILLIEshe and GEORGE HW BUSHEnglish Springer Spaniel. “Millie’s Book” came out in August 1990 and quickly became a New York Times #1 best-selling nonfiction in September of that year.
The book “depicts a day in the life of George Herbert Walker Bush and his family, discussing morning briefings, Oval Office deliberations, and short breaks to hunt squirrels,” according to its summary on Amazon.
A CALL – Thanks to Alex for this question! Do you think you have a more difficult one? Send us your best report on the presidents with a citation and we might feature it.
Edited by Sam Stein.