Ahem. Haven’t we heard this before — say, all through the 2020 campaign? Joe Biden claimed to represent the common-sense center in the general election, and then proceeded to decide that his mandate required him to become FDR to the LBJ exponential power.
Axios’ Josh Kraushaar writes that Biden 2024 will give voters a second verse, and that he’s finally figured out what voters said in 2020:
What’s happening: His early ’23 moves — Sunday’s visit to the U.S.-Mexico border and his appearance with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to promote the infrastructure law — gave a crystal-clear contrast with the GOP’s chaotic speaker fight.
Why it matters: Voters sent a clear message in the midterms that they value bipartisanship, rejecting extreme candidates. Republicans accommodated the far right, with often disastrous results.
- Biden began his administration pandering to progressives. But he ended ’22 with his party cutting deals with some Republicans on small-scale gun regulations — and a big infrastructure package.
He didn’t “end 22” with those moves. The bipartisan infrastructure deal took place in the summer of 2021, but progressives in the House blocked it until later that year, holding it hostage for the doomed $5 trillion Build Back Better bill. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed at the beginning of this past summer.
In between and around those two unicorns of moderation, Biden mainly pursued the radical-progressive plan. Even after his BBB proposal flopped — even after he endorsed the hostaging strategy of Pramila Jayapal — Biden stuck to his hard Left. In just the last few months, Biden added his massive and ironically named Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) at a cost of $800 billion or more, and also created by presidential fiat the grossly unconstitutional $400 billion-plus student-loan debt forgiveness plan. And let’s not forget that he’s presently ordering the Department of Justice to defend the latter on the basis that none of us peons have the standing to challenge the constitutionality of this basic violation of Article I authority.
That doesn’t make Kraushaar entirely wrong about Biden’s intent. Or perhaps better put, his professed intent. Whether or not Biden sincerely plans to make a change is another matter. He wasn’t making that change during the past two years, when he badly misread the 2020 mandate, and it’s not clear why he’d make that change now. Democrats have made clear that they plan to paint the new and thin Republican House majority as a bunch of radical insurrectionist hooligans if not flat-out fascists. Biden has been an enthusiastic contributor to that campaign, leavened only lightly by occasional glad-handing with old Senate pals like Mitch McConnell and this weekend’s 3-hour tour of Gilligan’s Border Crisis, which Karen will write about at more length this morning (one post is already up).
Let’s just recall Biden’s track record when weighing this claim, and not just over the first two years of his presidency. Throughout his career, Biden has been a bombthrower blessed with a mainstream media full of his apologists. For every “unity” message, there’s at least two “gonna put y’all back in chains” moment. Just a year ago, Biden accused not just Republicans but fellow Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of being modern Bull Connors for opposing a filibuster change to force through a bill that would have federalized presidential and congressional elections. Despite the media’s attempt to keep Biden’s “Uncle Joe from Scranton” persona afloat, Biden is and always has been a vicious demagogue and a deeply dishonest pol who mouths whatever he thinks will do him the most good at any moment.
The next two years promises more of the same. Biden will attempt to sell himself as a centrist again, the media will fall for it again, and meantime Biden will continue pursuing hard-progressive hobby-horse agenda items. The media may fall for a couple of glad-handing attempts and call it a “pivot.” The rest of us know better.