WASHINGTON — Picture America as a big house in Texas.
The place seems wrecked, along with the people in it. They are stranded without power, light, water — after a gale force.
They fear it's beyond repair and are losing faith in the future. The parents wonder how they're going to pay their bills with lost jobs. The children want to go to school and see friends they miss.
We are all Texans now, with Texas the outsize canvas of misery after severe winter storms.
Joe Biden's presidency is only a month old, but the mission is clear: to heal and repair America's hurting hearts, homes, hopes and health. His talent for empathy matches the moment of this urgent task. He knows this town well and never met a stranger.
The four years of Donald Trump's presidency left a wake of despair, death, tax breaks for the rich, racism, cruelty and a Capitol riot. Deadly violence under the dome was the tragedy's final act.
Enter Biden. He brings a ray of reassurance that our house can be fixed to stand strong again. Biden's presidency may go down as the trusty Repairman Era.
Unlike former President Barack Obama, Biden does not bring beautiful words to the table. That's fine; it's no problem to talk low-tempo like genial Joe. If he gets things done, who needs fancy solos in a state of crisis?
In fact, the sound of silence falls sweetly here after all the noise and tweets Trump trumpeted. Friends said how moving Biden's simple, somber words were during a South Portico candlelight ceremony for COVID-19 losses — personal yet addressed to all. The president spoke after a moment of silence on remembrance and healing.
"I know all too well," Biden said. "The survivors' remorse, the anger, the questions of faith in your soul."
Many Americans already call him Joe.
A Washington denizen, he knows what the law can do, how presidents can help real people in their real lives, as he sends federal disaster assistance and plans to visit Texas, the beleaguered Lone Star State.
Biden, 78, is now the best version of himself, a work in progress for years. His kind temperament and tone matter greatly to a country or family feeling abused and abandoned. We are collectively clinging to the wreckage, in a British author's phrase.
Let's go over the three most important fronts.
Climate change is of the essence. The polar vortex storms in Texas, forest fires in California, rising sea levels and melting glaciers are all connected. Biden immediately rejoined the Paris Agreement, to our allies' delight. Trump had dropped out of this landmark treaty on climate goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic just reached a grave milestone of 500,000 deaths in one year. Biden signaled from the start that the nation would honor the dead and buttress the living with a mass public health program combining masks ("for God's sake"), social distancing and vaccinations reaching 100 million this spring.
This sound medical strategy contrasts with Trump's almost criminal carelessness about the death toll and protecting the populace.
As his wife Melania put it on a shirt: "I really don't care. Do U?" That was Trump's stance on the coronavirus, which he knew was highly contagious.
The battered economy needs love and money. A nearly $2 trillion package is almost out the door. The House is set to approve the American Rescue Plan this week.
Biden courted Senate Republican support, but says he'll sign the bill without a Republican vote. That's good-will politics, to hold out a hand to the other side, true blue to one's own party.
Cabinet appointments show that Biden values expertise, after being around the block a time or two. In poetic justice, Merrick Garland is set to be attorney general after Obama let him languish as a Supreme Court nominee.
Garland, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other Cabinet members telegraph they will work for the American people, not cater to the president's ego.
"I'm not the president's lawyer," Garland stated in a Senate hearing. He called the Capitol riot "heinous" and said investigating the mob attack is first on his list.
To repair the broken parts — Biden and his team have the right stuff. Refreshing.
Jamie Stiehm may be reached at JamieStiehm.com. To read her weekly column and find out more about Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit creators.com.