The disarray among Democrats has intensified after Tuesday’s disastrous election results, and the trench lines appear to be deepening. The reconciliation bill, which appears all but dead, may have transformed into nothing more than a proxy fight at this point.
The fight may look like it’s between progressives and moderates, but Joe Manchin argues that it’s between utopians and realists. Or at least between fantasy and math, and that starts at the White House, where Joe Biden wants to be FDR to the LBJ power without enough votes to pull it off:
“We don’t have the numbers that FDR had or that Lyndon Baines Johnson had in order to get some major, major legislation done,” Manchin said on CNN. “So we have to come to realization what we have and deal in good faith that we can do at least something.” …
“This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center, if anything a center-right country,” Manchin told CNN Thursday. “That’s being shown. And we ought to be able to recognize that.”
Manchin added on CNN: “Now we have a reconciliation bill which is only a partisan bill by our Democratic Party, and that’s holding up the other bills that were bipartisan that’s the problem we have and there has to be some good faith. But if you want someone to agree that I’ll sign off on everything you want and that’ll be the way it’ll come and if I do that you’ll pass the other two .. that’s not the way democracy works.”
Manchin isn’t the only Democrat raising objections to massive policy changes being pushed in a massively partisan manner through a 50/50 Congress. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) just saw Democrats collapse across her state and has to wonder how she’ll survive in next year’s midterms. Spanberger tells the New York Times the same point many on the Right have made — that Biden and Democratic leadership have fundamentally misread the 2020 elections, and that Tuesday’s results were inevitable reactions to their overreach:
“We were so willing to take seriously a global pandemic, but we’re not willing to say, ‘Yeah, inflation is a problem, and supply chain is a problem, and we don’t have enough workers in our work force,’” said Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat facing a bruising re-election. “We gloss over that and only like to admit to problems in spaces we dominate.”
More pointedly, Ms. Spanberger said Mr. Biden must not forget that, for many voters, his mandate was quite limited: to remove former President Donald J. Trump from their television screens and to make American life ordinary again.
“Nobody elected him to be F.D.R., they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos,” she said, alluding to the sweeping agenda the president is seeking to enact with the thinnest of legislative majorities.
Spanberger’s not the only Democrat going on the record on that point. Longtime Democratic strategist Howard Wolfson warned that Biden should focus on his only real mandate out of 2020. If not, get ready for much bigger storms, he warned:
The effects of the pandemic, particularly with students and parents, are “a national crisis and pretending otherwise is not fooling anybody,” said Howard Wolfson, a longtime Democratic strategist. “Our conversation as a party has to align with what people care about.”
Mr. Wolfson said Democrats must make “a course correction” and recognize that Mr. Biden should fulfill his promise to “battle Covid and return some bipartisan normalcy to Washington.”
If they don’t, he said, “last night’s rain is going to look like a tiny drizzle because the hurricane is coming.”
And Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) wonders why her party’s leaders are pushing even more progressive components back into a bill that already has zero chance of passing the Senate after Tuesday’s electoral disaster:
“I don’t understand some of my more progressive colleagues saying last night now shows us that what we need to do is get both of these bills done and shove even more progressive stuff in,” Ms. Rice said. “What we’re talking about is not resonating with voters.”
Perhaps this is the result of nominating and electing a candidate who believes himself to be the smartest person in the room at all times. (A failing of both parties, to be sure, although at least one had a track record as an executive.) Joe Biden simply doesn’t have the ability or humility to learn lessons from failure. Bill Clinton triangulated after getting punished at the polls; Barack Obama decelerated, at least for a time. Biden isn’t changing direction at all, nor even acknowledging that he did anything wrong at all. Instead, Biden’s telling people that voters were “confused” in their opposition to his initiatives:
Biden says Americans are "confused" after brutal election losses for Democrats pic.twitter.com/FeyevPJzDw
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 3, 2021
That’s even more ironic, considering Biden’s own confusion yesterday about the ACLU settlement talks over the payments to illegal immigrants. At the heart of this Democratic internecine fight is Biden’s confusion about his election win. He ran on the idea of being a return to a former comity and collaboration in which chaos would be replaced with calm and caprice eclipsed by competence. Having barely won on that basis — and having the barest of control over Congress — Biden’s decision to go full FDR/LBJ is only explicable by Biden’s immense and unjustified ego.
Here’s the full CNN interview with Manchin, who comes across as the voice of reason throughout even while John Berman keeps trying to play gotcha. The bottom line is that Manchin isn’t going to climb on board this social-engineering effort any more now than he was before Biden and Democrats took a beating on Tuesday night. Not only will Biden not be FDR or LBJ, he may not even be JEC — James Earl Carter.