Some still claim that Ronald Reagan switched the site of his first inauguration in 1981 from the east to the west side of the Capitol to symbolise both his ambition to change the nation’s direction and America’s historical desire to look west for opportunity.
That myth has long been disproven.
The decision, taken to save money and accommodate more spectators, was made before the Republicans nominated Reagan. It didn’t stop him looking on the "shrines to the giants" before him: Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.
Later this month, Joe Biden’s own look westward will fall on a different vista – a malaise far different to that faced by Reagan in the wake of Vietnam, Watergate and the Iranian hostage crisis.
How then does Canberra manage a Biden-led United States? The central question is the extent to which the new president can escape Trumpism in the areas that affect Canberra, notably on trade and US-China relations.
Two highly respected and experienced US experts in East Asia interviewed for this column agree that notwithstanding Biden’s dominant domestic focus, especially the COVID-19 response and economic recovery, allies can expect a more coherent Asia policy.
Mike Green was the National Security Council's senior director for Asia under president George W. Bush. Paul Heer served as National Intelligence Officer for East Asia from 2007 to 2015. They remain central players in the US foreign policy debate.
Both affirm that the bipartisan consensus in Washington on pushback against China stays. Still, both foresee tonal change towards Beijing.
"Most Americans liked Trump labelling China a 'strategic competitor', but did not like the way he brought chaos and uncertainty to key US allies," Green says.
There will be no debate in DC about competing with China, but given domestic constraints, "there will be debates about the level of commitment of resources to the effort".
Green expects "no more messianic rhetoric about the Chinese Communist Party representing an existential threat to the world. No more us or them rhetoric".
Heer likewise expects Biden "will pursue - and try to highlight - a more coherent and pragmatic approach to China that avoids a new cold war, and resumes both engagement and co-operation with Beijing, but makes it clear to China that such a relationship will be contingent on constructive and reciprocal behaviour by Beijing, including and especially within the region".
No let-up on US tariffs on China seems likely, and no concessions should be offered to Beijing "simply for the sake of restoring cordial relations" with China, says Heer.
A change in tone might give the Morrison government some space in which to stabilise Australia-China tensions. But some ministers, accustomed to being out in front of the Americans, may want to stay there, waving the standard ever more furiously.
Green believes Biden will continue to promote a "free and open Indo-Pacific" and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) "if allies want to", though he envisages a tweaking of the language around the former strategic concept. This also hints the new administration may be less gung-ho on the Quad as the region’s structural El Dorado.
Heer is blunter on the new strategic picture Biden faces. "The relative strategic trajectories of the United States and China have probably relegated to history the notion of 'US primacy' in East Asia (let alone globally)," he says.
"[But] the Biden administration may not fully recognise this yet, or at least not be ready to openly acknowledge it."
While Washington’s Asian Alliance system remains an important counterweight to Chinese diplomatic and economic coercion, it would be counterproductive, Heer stresses, to make it "a vehicle for a contest between China and the United States for regional supremacy".
Neither analyst sees Biden acceding to calls to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Green expects Biden’s focus will be on smaller sectoral deals around 5G, artificial intelligence and digital trade – where Australia, Japan and Korea will be key.
One problem, and an early one, is how Australia might help shape Biden’s proposed summit of democracies: an idea easy to sprinkle into an uplifting speech, much tougher to implement.
Green knows the participation of allies will be crucial, but he worries that parts of the bureaucracy in Canberra see involvement in such a forum to be tantamount to lecturing Asians on democracy. "It would be a mistake for Australia to sound too much like Singapore in this debate," he says.
He highlights the transition team is leaning towards a "rolling series of meetings that allow inclusion but no pass for anti-democratic practices".
Morrison would have to contend with those tempted to see in any "coalition of democracies" the allure of older Anglospheric or civilisational imaginaries, not to mention the appeal of another forum in which to trumpet their China threat narrative.
Aside from expected support for that concept, "nothing revolutionary", Green contends, is desired of Australia. So excited talk about offering the Americans new ports for new fleets, or pre-positioned ballistic missiles, remains just that.
What has been and will continue to be difficult for all shades of opinion in Canberra is to grasp in cool, realistic fashion just what relative US decline means.
However much the Biden team may want to help, especially in Australia’s stoush with China, it may be unable to do much since America’s domestic travails strike so deep.
The message is surely that Biden’s political capital is limited. And whatever he has will be spent at home first.