Welcomed in Ireland, ‘Cousin Joe’ Biden cuts jokes of staying


In Ireland this week, well-wishers have lined the streets to catch a mere glimpse of President Joe Biden. Photos of his smiling face are plastered on shop windows, and one admirer held a sign reading, “2024 — Make Joe President Again.”
No wonder Biden keeps joking about sticking around. Back home, Biden’s approval rating is near the lowest point of his presidency. And even some fellow Democrats have suggested he shouldn’t run for reelection. On trips within the US to discuss his economic and social policies, Biden often gets a smattering of admirers waving as he drives by, and friendly crowds applaud his speeches. But the reception doesn’t compare with the overwhelming adoration he’s getting here in the old sod.
Expect more of the same on Friday, when Biden wraps up his visit to Ireland by spending a day in County Mayo in western Ireland, where his great-great-grandfather Patrick Blewitt lived until he left for the United States in 1850.
The locals have been abuzz for weeks with preparation for Biden’s visit, giving buildings a new coat of paint and hanging American flags from shopfronts. It’s a dynamic that most of Biden’s predecessors also have faced: The world abroad tends to love American presidents. Back home, not always. Not so much.
“With the greatest of respect, Mr. President, I must say, you sure can draw a crowd,” Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, speaker of the lower chamber of Ireland’s parliament, said as he introduced Biden’s joint address to lawmakers on Thursday. “Perhaps afterwards you might give me some hints on how we could ensure good attendance around here.”
A US president’s overseas trips often offer a backdrop and substance that are difficult to replicate on home turf. Biden’s Ireland trip has been heady with nostalgia and fellowship — grand sweeping hills and cozy towns fitting for just such a mood.
Presidential visits come with the pageantry of Air Force One landings, long motorcades and “the beast,” Biden’s limo, which other world leaders, like Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, delight in riding.