- - Thursday, January 21, 2021

The inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the 46th president returns the United States to the direction from whence it came. For the tens of millions who voted for him, his ascendance to the White House means the nation is getting back on track. Those who did not dread the U-turn he has vowed to make.

As the Biden journey began, Americans witnessed an inauguration bordering on the bizarre. Rather than a traditional ceremony at the west front of the U.S. Capitol attended by hundreds of thousands of well-wishers filling the National Mall, President Biden‘s inaugural spectators were mostly virtual. The grassy expanse was covered only with a sea of colorful flags meant to enliven the vast emptiness.

Imposing fencing surrounded those forlorn grounds, guarded for days by clusters of National Guardsmen dressed in camo combat uniform. Flown in from every state and 25,000 strong to deter any disgruntled dissenter unconvinced that unexplained irregularities in the November election ballot tabulation made Mr. Biden a legitimate winner. The show of force and public lockout made the day safe and somnolent.

In contrast to his extraordinary ceremony, the new president’s policy course is familiar, re-establishing programs championed by Barack Obama that Donald Trump regarded, correctly, as foreign to the interests of everyday Americans. Among more than a dozen immediate executive orders endorsed by Mr. Biden‘s hand: a rollback of a Trump ban on travelers from nations unable to provide reliable immigration information, a rule widely but imprecisely termed a Muslim ban.

With additional strokes of the pen, the new president signaled his intention to rejoin the Obama Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, both of which Mr. Trump abandoned, and abandoned construction of the southern border wall and Keystone XL pipeline, which Mr. Trump championed.

The Biden legislative agenda is expected to start with the completion of Mr. Obama’s drive toward citizenship for persons who entered the United States illegally. It plans to place the 800,000 currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the front of the legalization line. Soon to follow would be amnesty for additional tens of millions of illegals seeking citizenship. Thousands of hopeful migrants are reportedly streaming northward toward the U.S. border, believing Mr. Biden has rolled out the welcome mat.

How a resurgence of inbound sojourners from destitute places squares with Mr. Biden‘s pledge to cure the uncontrolled COVID-19 is an open question. When no strategies short of Communist China-style lockdowns have managed to halt the spread of infection, returning to porous border policies of the Obama era would defy common sense. Mr. Biden‘s backing of a $1.9 trillion virus-relief bill and a face-mask mandate for persons entering federal property won’t hold back super-spreader immigration.

The road ahead is strangely familiar. If the Biden journey simply retraces the Obama path, though, the task will go wanting to make America great again.

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