Still, it has long struck me that the Trump Presidency was very much a House-style Presidency, just as Biden’s politics have undoubtedly been shaped by his thirty-six years in the Senate. Performative politics, edgy partisanship, and lots of shouting have long been in the House’s DNA. Remember the Benghazi hearings? For much of his time in office, Trump was literally surrounded by veterans of the most extreme House Republican faction: the Freedom Caucus. That group produced two of Trump’s four White House chiefs of staff: Mark Meadows and Mick Mulvaney. John Boehner, the former Republican Speaker of the House who quit under pressure from the Freedom Caucus, called them “political terrorists” in his recent memoir. In recent years, they have largely not legislated, spending their time instead politicking via press conferences and Fox News hits. The current chair of the group, Andy Biggs, of Arizona, was one of those who showed up at a protest in front of the Justice Department on Tuesday, the first day of the January 6th hearing—a protest in favor of the arrested insurrectionists, now rebranded as “political prisoners.” That is as Trumpy as it gets.
Biden, in contrast, is offering America a Presidency that draws from his years in the Senate. He speaks of old-fashioned notions such as bipartisanship and comity, even at the cost of angering the more confrontational House-style progressives in his own party, who crave more partisan rhetoric. As the Senate infrastructure negotiators were nearing their agreement, on Wednesday, Biden offered a statement on the process that could have served as a mantra for his Administration. “I’m working with Democrats and Republicans to get this done, because, while there’s a lot we don’t agree on, I believe that we should be able to work together on the few things we do agree on,” he said.
In the perennial war between the House and the Senate, between Trump-style confrontation and Biden-style consensus, of course, there are no permanent winners. And there are already many losers.