The Straits Times says

A steady hand now helms the US

History was made when Mr Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday. The unusually low-key event took place amid a historic health and political crisis. He is the oldest ever US president to be inaugurated, and his Vice-President Kamala Harris is the first ever woman and African-Asian-American to hold the post. In a repudiation of the political legacy of Mr Donald Trump's last four years, President Biden stressed the themes of inclusiveness and unity in his inaugural address, calling for an end to the "uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal". On his first day in office, he got to work quickly, issuing 17 directives that overturned many Trump administration initiatives.

The US will be back in the global climate agreement in 30 days, will not leave the World Health Organisation, nor any longer impose a ban on entry to citizens from certain Muslim-majority countries. These U-turns have been welcomed around the world. But the majority of his administration's immediate priorities are domestic. According to the White House, they are, in order: dealing with Covid-19, tackling the climate emergency, promoting racial equity, fixing the economy, improving access to affordable healthcare, revamping immigration policies and raising America's global standing. In all of these areas, policies will likely be radically different from those pursued by the Trump administration.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2021, with the headline 'A steady hand now helms the US'. Subscribe