In yesterday’s press conference, Joe Biden insisted that he hadn’t underdelivered on his campaign promises to be a uniter and deal-maker. Polls and legislative failures to the contrary, Biden insisted that he had in fact “outperformed what anybody thought would happen.” Not only would history prove him right, Biden insisted, he would go out on the road to campaign on his track record and convince voters of his success:
And one of the things that I remember saying — and I’ll end this — I remember saying to President Obama, when he passed the Affordable Care Act — I said, “You ought to take a victory lap.” And he said, “There’s so many things going on, we have don’t have time to take a victory lap.”
As a consequence, no one knew what the detail of the legislation was. They don’t know a lot of the detail of what we passed. So, the difference is, I’m going to be out on the road a lot, making the case around the country, with my colleagues who are up for reelection and others, making the case of what we did do and what we want to do, what we need to do.
And so, I don’t think I’ve overpromised at all. And I’m going to stay on this track.
Er, okay, but what exactly has Biden passed? He pushed through a third and unnecessary $1.9 trillion COVID relief/stimulus bill that provided the catalyst for a massive inflationary wave but somehow never got around to boosting production of rapid-antigen COVID tests. Biden also got a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by working with Republicans, which his progressives held up for months as a hostaging tactic for their massive social-engineering bill. Besides, in the same answer at this presser Biden declared bipartisanship impossible:
I did not anticipate that there’d be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn’t get anything done. Think about this: What are Republicans for? What are they for? Name me one thing they’re for.
In other words, Biden plans to take a victory lap for a bill that proved Republicans will engage in bipartisanship when their interests are considered and Biden’s kickstarting of inflation. If that sounds incoherent, it’s only because you paid attention at yesterday’s press conference, which is more than one can say about Joe Biden.
But that’s not the end of Biden’s political incompetence. CNN reported yesterday that their midterm strategy is non-existent, and no one’s following up with candidates on the same roads as Biden’s proposed victory lap:
They’re not the only ones who’ve been left waiting. In three dozen exclusive interviews with CNN, top Democratic politicians, campaign officials and operatives say the White House political operation is heading into the midterms unprepared and unresponsive even to basic requests for help or information. …
Senior Democrats, including some White House aides, describe a West Wing lacking both a political strategy and the discipline to execute one. Focus groups are giving party operatives nightmares. Biden is coming across as old and absent, they say. Real and perceived fumbles play into deep fears that he’s not up to the job and that Democrats are incompetent. Few Americans can say what was in the massive bills he’s signed, though many have heard about Democratic infighting and failure in what he hasn’t signed.
“What is the plan to fix that?” asked one operative in touch with the White House. “They can’t tell us what they’re talking about next week.”
In fact, no one’s even sure who’s running the show, either on the legislative or political operations, emphasis mine:
According to many in Congress, at the various Democratic campaign arms and others involved in Democratic politics, the Biden White House doesn’t have a clear point of contact for allies. There’s a White House political director, Emmy Ruiz, but insiders say she has never really been empowered with either the carrots or sticks that could make her, and the office, more effective externally — while some on her staff are viewed internally as more loyal to other Democratic causes than to Biden. Jen O’Malley Dillon, who ran Biden’s general election campaign, now serves as the main conduit in the West Wing for political decisions, but many in touch with her complain of a bottleneck that slows responses, if they come at all.
Steve Ricchetti, the trusted Biden aide who sits a few steps away from the Oval Office, is the official point person for conversations with Congress. But Cedric Richmond, director of public engagement, is doing a lot of the outreach to his former peers in the House.
“Who is in charge? Who is running the thing?” said one exasperated Democratic House member, requesting anonymity to speak candidly about their frustration.
Several who’ve known the President for years think that part of why Biden’s political operation isn’t like they’re used to — the constant check-ins, the promises of campaign appearances, the donors used to him grabbing their phones and calling their grandmothers — is that for so long, that operation essentially existed within his own head, even as vice president.
Well, that certainly explains the incompetence.
CNN tries gamely to distinguish Biden from Barack Obama by pointing out that Biden shared his organization with the DNC after the election. Obama cannibalized the DNC in 2008 for his innovative and historic campaign and kept it for himself, forcing the DNC to rebuild over several years. That’s neither here nor there for a White House, though, where the strategy and tactics are fully within the West Wing. If Biden doesn’t have an organization in the West Wing that can carry out legislative negotiations and electoral strategy, his administration will be an albatross around Democrats’ necks in the midterms, even apart from Biden’s appalling performance and subsequent polling collapse.