Why is Biden suddenly endorsing moderates?

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

In the closing days of the Ohio Democratic primary, Joe Biden made the unexpected choice to jump into the middle of the battle for the state’s 11th Congressional District. Incumbent Democrat Shontel Brown was facing a challenge from the progressive wing of the party in the form of former state Sen. Nina Turner. Turner has been a vocal ally of Bernie Sanders and a favorite of the “squad.” Given how many far-left priorities Biden has been pushing since taking office, that surprised many analysts. His safest play would obviously have been to stay out of the race and simply endorse the primary winner, but he threw his political weight behind Brown. She went on to win the primary, sending Turner back to the bench. But there was more to this story than just a battle between centrists and progressives, and it involves some bad blood that dates back several years. (The Hill)

When President Biden jumped into an Ohio congressional race to offer a surprise endorsement, progressives weren’t pleased…

Given the contentious nature of their relationship, many expected Democrats to back Brown over her rival. But few saw Brown’s blessing coming from Biden himself. What followed was confusion about why the president — drowning in domestic woes and low polls to match — would exert his influence like that after calling for unity.

“Party machine politics is very strong,” said Angelo Greco, a senior campaign adviser to Turner. “I don’t even think it was necessary. The machine had already fallen behind Shontel.”

The eleventh district primary will likely serve as a reminder that political friends and foes have long memories and the things you say today may come back to haunt you tomorrow. Back during the early days of the 2020 Democratic primary, when Joe Biden had first decided to enter the race and was not doing well, Nina Turner was a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders. They both shared some of the more radical progressive views in the party, so that was a natural fit.

But Turner wasn’t just a supporter of Sanders. She was a vocal critic of Joe Biden’s decision to enter the race. She told a reporter from The Atlantic at one point that voting for Joe Biden would be akin to “eating a bowl of s**t.” She made other unflattering comments as well.

Clearly, Joe Biden either hasn’t forgotten that or someone reminded him of it this month. So this was probably less of an indicator that Biden is trying to move back toward the middle than a sign that he’s capable of acting out in a fit of pique against a member of his own party who acted in a disloyal fashion.

But it’s also possible that Biden actually is getting fed up with the House Progressive Caucus and the far left-wing. After all, they’ve done more to stall his agenda and keep him bogged down in terms of passing any signature legislation than the Republicans ever could have dreamed of doing. The only major item outside of COVID relief and aid for Ukraine that Biden has managed to get across the finish line was the infrastructure bill. And progressives held that hostage for months and almost managed to tank that bill as well.

Biden is running out of time to get anything else done beyond normal congressional housekeeping. If his party loses the majority in either chamber of Congress this November (which is looking increasingly likely) his presidency is effectively over. Nothing major will be passed for the last two years of his first term if there is a Republican in either the Senate Majority Leader’s office or that of the Speaker of the House. And if the Senate falls to the GOP, Biden probably won’t even be able to seat another Supreme Court justice if another opening comes up. Even in his apparent diminished state of mental acuity, even Biden must realize this.