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At noon on Jan. 20 in Washington, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. He takes office at a perilous moment. His country is divided as only once before in its history — when it erupted in a true civil war.

His election win remains contested among substantial parts of the population; and U.S. standing and status in the world face unprecedented challenges. Yet, remarkably, Biden was elected because he presented himself as ordinary and normal, a safe harbor from the exceptionalism of his predecessor — who proclaimed exactly four years ago after a grim diagnosis of his country that “only I can fix it” — and the more extreme options of the left within his party.

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