It was a cold and windy February day in South Carolina. Pundits doing live shots in the parking lot of the bar were wearing blankets over the lower third of their bodies, just out of frame. A Democratic presidential primary was going on, and if there was a general consensus, it was that Joe Biden’s campaign at least had to cloud a mirror held under its nose to account for what had been to that point a doomed and futile ride into forced retirement.
He’d stumbled badly in Iowa, fallen flat on his face in New Hampshire, and finished far up the track in second in Nevada. This was Biden’s third try at the presidential nomination, and he had yet to win a single primary in any of them. A former vice president to a still-popular two-term president, Biden needed to do something in South Carolina or he was headed for the remainder bin. Almost a year later, after a lot of fuss and bother (and one armed insurrection), Biden was sworn in as the forty-sixth president of these United States.