Fintan O’Toole: Biden is a Kennedy-era figure come back to heal a wound that never closed

US president-elect is a second coming of the lost moment of the Kennedys

US president-elect Joe Biden “knows that the future does not belong to him. But with his late, last reiteration of the Kennedy moment, a part of the past does.” Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

US president-elect Joe Biden “knows that the future does not belong to him. But with his late, last reiteration of the Kennedy moment, a part of the past does.” Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

He is in his late 70s. He grew up in white middle America in the postwar years and came to political consciousness amid the promise of a generational shift towards a more progressive and optimistic idea of what the United States should be. He was in his early 20s when John F Kennedy was murdered in 1963. And in 2020 he came back from the dead with an extraordinary triumph.

I’m thinking, of course, of Bob Dylan and of the eerie way his album Rough and Rowdy Ways, released in June, intersects with this point in political time. It is framed as a haunting, Dylan speaking to us from beyond the grave. But it is itself haunted.

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