LOS ANGELES - This week, the peaceful transfer of power so many feared would not take place, did.
At noon on Wednesday, Joe Biden took the oath of office, becoming the 46th President of the United States.
It was an inauguration unlike any in modern history, most notably because of the absence of outgoing President Donald Trump, as well as the presence of some 25,000 National Guard troops, deployed to Washington DC over fears of attacks akin to those on January 6.
All this in a week when an additional 1.32 million Americans contracted coronavirus, and more than 21,000 lost their lives to the pandemic.
To break down this moment in American history, and much more, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is by Chris Wallace, anchor of FOX News Sunday, and Alex Padilla (D-CA), who this week was sworn in as California’s newest Senator.
THE ISSUE: CALIFORNIA’S NEWEST SENATOR
BACKGROUND: Last year, following the election of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as Vice President, California Governor Gavin Newsom selected Alex Padilla, then California Secretary of State, to serve as her replacement in the Senate. This week, Padilla was officially sworn in, becoming not only the state’s newest Senator, but the first Latino to ever hold the position.
PADILLA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "What a tremendous opportunity, and a tremendous responsibility to bring my voice to the deliberations of the United States Senate. We’re hopeful with the beginning of a new administration, and the hope and optimism that the Inauguration of President Biden, Vice President Harris represent, but sobered by the task at hand, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic. It continues to ravage communities throughout California, throughout the country, and even once we start turning the corner on that, having to revisit issues of underlying inequity in education, in health care, in the economy, and so much more. So we have a lot of work to do, but if we can capture just some of that energy and optimism from this week into the weeks and months ahead, hopefully we can make a lot of progress."
THE ISSUE: THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID
BACKGROUND: This week, despite issuing a flurry of executive orders to combat the coronavirus, President Biden warned, that in the coming months, the pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of some 400,000, could claim roughly 200,000 more. This, as locally, despite having administered some 1.8 million vaccine doses, California, according to Bloomberg, ranks last among the 50 states in terms of the percentage of delivered vaccines actually used.
PADILLA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We know the situation is dire, it is completely a result of a failure of national leadership and a cohesive national plan over the last 10 months. That’s why people are hopeful, now with an administration, starting with President Biden, that actually believes in science and data. So, what has he called for on day one, number one, 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, 100 days of everybody wearing a mask, the very basic things that public health experts have been pleading with us to do since the beginning of the pandemic… The biggest part of the bad deal that the governor was dealt by the Trump administration, is bad information on the first batch of vaccines being delivered to California, it was nowhere near the supply they had originally been promised. And so how do you develop a responsible plan when you don’t know when a second batch is coming, or how many are going to be in a second batch, or if you can count on that number to be delivered?"
THE ISSUE: PRESIDENT BIDEN’S INAUGURAL
BACKGROUND: Following President Biden’s Inaugural address, one in which Biden called for "unity" and an end to "this uncivil war that pits red against blue," FOX News Sunday anchor made headlines for calling the speech the "best" he had "ever heard."
WALLACE’S CENTRAL TAKE: "First of all, you have to view it in the context that just 14 days before Biden delivered that address on the inaugural platform, on that very same spot, you had a mob of insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol and tried to prevent our elected leaders from fulfilling their Constitutional duties. So when Joe Biden, in that context, said that our Democracy is fragile, our Democracy has prevailed, I thought it had a real emotional resonance to it…The second reason I liked it so much, is that I thought the tone was just right… it felt like Joe talking over the backyard fence to his neighbor, saying ‘look, we’ve got to turn down the temperature, we’ve got to start listening to ourselves, American politics can no longer be a blood sport,’ and I thought that was very effective."
THE ISSUE: TRUTH, LIES, AND THE CHANGING STATE OF MEDIA
BACKGROUND: Beyond "unity," in his inaugural address, Joe Biden also intoned that "there is truth and there are lies. And each of us has a duty and a responsibility… to defend the truth and defeat the lies." Michaelson asked Wallace to explain how we reached this moment of truth and lies in our media, and if, in the face of such a rapidly changing media landscape, that request by Biden is even realistic.
WALLACE’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Look, I think that Donald Trump is primarily responsible for what happened over the last four years, when he talked about ‘fake news,’ when he talked about the media ‘is the enemy of the American people,’ that was outrageous and very damaging to our democracy…Having said that, I think that his excesses allowed, or provoked, some of my colleagues in the media to do excesses of their own. Some of the coverage of President Trump, some of the questioning of President Trump, as somebody who covered Ronald Reagan for six years and his White House, I was shocked by, I thought it was disrespectful, I thought it was just not reporting, it was advocacy, and I think that’s a huge mistake for reporters… I hope we go somewhat back to the old standards that I learned when I was covering Ronald Reagan, but the problem is, there is profit in opinion, profit on the right, profit on the left, and it’s going to be hard to put that genie back in the bottle."
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.