That you are holding this week’s edition of Philadelphia Weekly, or eyeballing it on a screen, makes it likely you have found little, if anything, worth celebrating about the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the 46th president of the United States of America.
But I submit there is at least one reason why anyone who lives within a 35-mile radius of City Hall should be bursting with pride and brimming with joy (or is that brimming with pride and bursting with joy?) that the former vice president and his wife will soon be measuring the drapes at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even better, it is something that transcends both political ideology and raw politics.
Ever since George Washington took the first Oath of Office in 1789, we here in the Philly region have lived under the leadership of a diverse group of gentlemen – landed gentry from Virginia, New York City patricians, an actor from Illinois, a Georgia peanut farmer, et al. But never before has anyone who has worked out of the ultimate home office hailed from what is known as the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area.
Think about it: For the first time, a Commander-in-Chief will actually be able to credibly discuss cheesesteaks, understand such terms as Hoagie Fest and Shorti and know all the words to “Fly, Eagles, Fly.” And if he can’t, you can pretty much bet the row home the First Lady can.
While Joe Biden wasn’t born in this particular corner of the universe, he has lived in northern Delaware for decades and, so it’s been reported, has made regular trips to this city for both work and leisure-time activities. But Dr. Jill Biden is a native of Willow Grove and as such, is as Philly as it gets: A blonde-tressed firecracker of fierce loyalty and unselfconscious humanity wrapped in that special addytood that identifies one of as a true Delaware Valleyan.
This is a woman who, presumably for at least the next four years, will, by definition of her circumstances, contribute to the American zeitgeist. And she will, by all accounts, be the first person in her exalted position to be able to identify Sally Starr, Roosevelt Boulevard and the Wanamaker Eagle. Likewise, she’ll be the first to instinctively understand the agony and the ecstasy of being a Philly sports fan and the first to readily know the answer to that eternal question: “Jeet?” Not to mention the first to understand in her very DNA that wooder, Ac-a-me and Arg’n (as in the Arg’n Diner) are the correct pronunciations of words the rest of America serially mispronounces.
And regardless of your philosophical bent, you can’t not grasp how freakin’ cool – and unprecedented – that is.
Given the cardinal rule of politics is “to the victors go the spoils,” one would hope that the Bidens’ deep Del Val roots will mean good things for this region in terms of federal largesse. But even if it doesn’t, those roots should be celebrated by anyone who has ever said the word shtreet or knows the correct wintertime use of a lawn chair.
So, let’s, if only for a moment, put politics and tribalism aside and revel in the fact that the next First Couple, if nothing else to your liking, are Two of Us.
Chuck Darrow has spent more than four decades as a writer and broadcaster specializing in covering the Philadelphia region’s arts, entertainment and casinos. He is still afraid he may one day have to work for a living.