Who’s really running Biden’s White House? Step forward, President Klain

A lot is riding on the success of Biden’s stimulus and infrastructure plans, not least the fortunes of the Democratic Party in the midterm elections next year. So far his policies are proving popular, although he is on the defensive over immigration and “woke” cultural wars. But plenty of moderate Democrats are concerned that he is betting the farm on progressive policies in a divided nation for which the party has no mandate.

Biden, they thought, was on their side, as was his White House chief of staff. What happened? Klain has argued that nobody should be surprised by the president’s boldness. “He laid this out in pretty elaborate, often mind-numbing detail over the course of the campaign — very detailed policy papers and very long speeches,” Klain was quoted as saying in The Wall Street Journal last week. “Everything we are doing is what we said we were going to do.”

Yet the point is that Biden was not expected to deliver on all those promises. They were devised as a “peace treaty” with Bernie Sanders, his rival for the Democratic nomination, who had a huge number of die-hard supporters on the left whom Biden needed to rally behind his own candidacy (after all the damage they caused Hillary Clinton). Once in government, the policies were supposed to be safely trimmed or dropped.