But while the State Department nomination, along with several other Cabinet picks rolled out this past week, underscores Biden’s intention to govern as a conciliator and not a partisan warrior, some on the left worry that his early moves signal weakness even before he steps into the Oval Office. They say Biden, 78, naively thinks the Senate still functions as it did during his 36 years there, with potential for compromise and conciliation.
“To meet Republicans where they are is to meet them in Fantasyland,” said Rebecca Katz, who worked as a top aide to Nevada Democrat Harry M. Reid when he served as Senate majority leader. “We don’t have any time to spare. Sometimes you’ve got to fight. We can’t fold before we’ve had one fight.”
On Capitol Hill, other Democrats are sounding similar warnings.
“There is still plenty of room for bipartisanship, but real bipartisanship, from a position of strength, not begging Republicans to confer bipartisanship upon us if we do things their way,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who is worried that Biden’s outreach to the GOP is being met with resistance.