I asked a friend of mine, well-informed and public-spirited, about the age of Joe Biden. She said, “He’s 78.” I said, “No, no, I mean the era of Biden, the epoch he will bestride and define. Any thoughts about that?” She replied, “He’s 78….”

I take her point, that it may be a little late for the age of Biden. But maybe it’s not too late to speculate about his importance as the second, or if you’re counting by presidential elections, the third act of the Obama era of modern liberalism.

Claiming his victory on the Saturday evening after the election, Biden paraphrased the memorable line from Obama’s 2004 debut speech at the Democratic National Convention. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify,” he said. “Who doesn’t see Red states and Blue states, only sees the United States.” Since no one recalls the Obama years as a golden age of unity and bipartisanship, the Biden era is going to have to be a big improvement.

One noticeable difference so far is rhetorical: Biden is more overtly religious than Obama. As a nice Catholic boy from Scranton who remains a faithful attender of Mass, Biden seems to think not (with apologies to George Will) that statecraft is soulcraft but that soulcraft is statecraft. Biden promises “to restore the soul and to secure the future of America,” in that order. To “end

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