The word I kept hearing on the radio every time there was an item about Biden’s too-little-too-late half-assed attempt to pretend he kind ion cares a little about Roe v Wade being overturned, was “incremental.” It made my skin crawl. On Friday we looked at the contours of one of the impending battles in the war for the 2022 midterms: who’s trying to take away our rights?
But another way of looking at the 2022 Grand Unified Field Theory of why Republicans suck, it’s also going to have to coalesce around danger, probably more so than rights. Regarding rights, they are taking away our abortion rights; they say that we’re trying to take away their gun rights; that argument seems to go nowhere. But they are creating the danger of an unwanted child in your life, the danger of being shot at a mass shooting, the danger of catching COVID from someone whom they say doesn’t have to wear a mask, etc. That’s really what they’re saying about us, in a completely inaccurate way– that there is a danger of Muslims committing terrorism in the U.S., a danger of illegal Salvadorans taking your job and raping your children, a danger that minorities will “replace” white people, a danger that strong women will emasculate men, a danger that gay teachers will groom our children, a danger that rioting African-Americans will loot our homes, and so on into eternity. They are relying much less on hatred lately, and much more on fear.
Yesterday Dan Balz noted that progressives, who have never been thrilled with Biden to begin with, see his puny action— and inaction— on core issues as further proof that he’s doesn’t really give a damn about the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party or why progressives stick with the post-Clinton party at all.
Balz wrote that the White House sees the complaints from progressives as “both expected and acceptable, that this is normal buffeting of a president by an activist base in an effort to keep pushing him to do more. But in this formulation, Biden presides over a broader Democratic coalition that includes everyone from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the left to Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) on the right and must never forget the importance of that. Whatever frustrations are being expressed about Biden’s leadership, the view from the White House is that where it has counted most, in Congress, Biden has delivered major pieces of legislation with hopes for something more this summer, and that the president has held together a congressional coalition with fewer defections than either of his two Democratic predecessors, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. In a 50-50 Senate and a House where the Democratic majority is slender, even a few defections can be deadly, and that is part of the discontent— and disconnect— between the president and his Democratic critics.”
In what world has Biden held anything together? Well, maybe the one where he alienated progressives by tricking them into voting for his inadequate transportation bill with the immediately broken promise that that would lead to a vote on Build Back Better. Could any self-respecting progressive— however many there are in Congress— ever take his word for anything again? I sure hope not.
Baltz wrote that progressives are pissed off that Biden “has been unnecessarily restrained in what he has pushed for.” As always, Balz us happy to shill for the White House, regurgitating their baloney— the party line— that thesis a reflection of “the real-world politics in which he lives: the knowledge that he and the Democrats have quite limited power to get their way on issues in the Senate and also that some of what he is proposing on abortion won’t stand up to the expected legal challenges.”
Even Balz realizes that what progressives want to see is a president “more willing to take on the big fights, even losing ones, to put down markers, to show where he is trying to lead, to rally and mobilize voters, to show more explicitly that he understands the feelings and frustrations of many in his coalition. As Faiz Shakir, senior adviser to Sanders, put it: ‘Show me you’re willing to be a disrupter, just as we’ve seen the right do. Give me politics that animate the fights I care about … and give me things I can touch, feel and see… There is a desire to see bold fights and friction.’”
Ever since Biden plopped himself down in the White House, aware that no matter how terrible a president he turns out to be— and he’s turning out as terrible as anyone could have expected— he’ll never be as bad as his predecessor. Since then though, Balz acknowledges, the coup and bloody insurrection “happened. New voting laws have been enacted in some states. Threats to future elections have arisen. Rulings by the Supreme Court’s new conservative majority happened. Mass shootings have continued. People are exhausted and on edge. They ask: Where is the passion, day in and day out, that reflects those changed circumstances and the new threats?”
Through friendly journalists like Balz, the White House is getting out its message that “Biden has some obvious goals over the next weeks as the Democrats head toward the November elections. One is to win passage of a package that could lower the price of prescription drugs and possibly raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Negotiations continue on Capitol Hill, though administration officials are not in the room in part because of strained relations with Manchin. Friday’s strong jobs report gives Biden another talking point, though the combination of inflation and fears of a recession make it difficult to get a hearing on jobs alone. The second is to use the abortion issue to mobilize voters to turn out in what is usually a low-turnout election. That was Biden’s main message on Friday. Though he outlined the elements of the abortion executive order he was signing, his rhetoric focused principally on November— the importance of everyone voting and the consequences of not doing so. He called on women to lead that charge. Changing laws, he said, requires more election victories, and that in turn demands a big turnout in November. No one can say with any certainty whether the decision to overturn Roe will dramatically change the trajectory of an election in which inflation remains the voters’ principal concern and Biden’s low approval ratings act as a drag on many Democratic candidates. For some activists that ignores the obvious problem: November is months away; the threats are immediate.”
And why should Biden and his corporate Dems care anyway? In large part because of phonies like them touting a so-called “bold agenda” without ever delivering anything, the term “bold agenda” itself has become exactly what George Orwell was talking about when he said that “political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”
Besides, they know they’ll soon be rid of Pelosi, who at least insisted on some degree of balance between the corporate whores from the Republican wing of the party and the progressive wing. And they have already won the battle— without a shot being fired— to replace her with the Democrats Wall Street has chosen as the next leader of what was once supposed to be the people’s party. This is the sack of garbage the Democrats are about to make their congressional leader. And we will all be expected to genuflect because, after all, he’s the first Black member to lead a party in the House, even though— like Dick Gephardt— his own limitations will prevent the Democratic Party from ever winning back the House while he’s in line to become Speaker.