“If you’re ever working with me, and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” Biden told new aides during a swearing-in ceremony following his inauguration. “On the spot.”
He told the appointees that part of it is that he wants to root out systemic racism and that failing to maintain his standards of decorum would cost them their jobs.
“My dad used to have an expression: He said everyone, every single person, regardless of their background, is entitled to be treated with dignity,” Biden said. “I expect you to do that for all the folks you deal with, all the folks we work for, the American people.”
“No ifs, ands or buts – everybody, everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity,” Biden concluded during his remarks Wednesday. “That’s been missing in a big way for the last four years.”
The stern call for workplace pleasantness comes after a 2020 presidential campaign in which he said he’d “beat the hell” out of his opponent, former President Donald Trump, if they were in high school together.
“If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” Biden said on the campaign trail in March 2018, taking issue with some of Trump’s past remarks.
The statement prompted a fiery rebuke from Trump and stood out as Biden tried to campaign on a platform of unity and normalcy – concepts he mentioned during his inaugural address Wednesday.
“We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature,” he said. “For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.”