Recent polling shows that Biden’s approval has started ticking up a bit and his disapproval has started going down. Gallup shows his approval at 44%, up from 38% with support among independent voters jumping 9 points. This morning, Axios noted that electorally vulnerable Democrats are no longer running away from him but have started embracing him.
Josh Kraushaar reported that Josh Shapiro and Matt Cunningham— the former the Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate and the latter a heavily targeted progressive Democratic congressman in a district with a super-dangerous R+13 partisan lean (4 points redder than it was in 2020) are doing an event in Wilkes-Barre with Biden today. Trump won Cartwright’s district by 3 points. Although John Fetterman has a previously-scheduled event in Pittsburgh today, he will be marching with Biden at a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh on Monday (and trying to persuade him to back marijuana decriminalization). One of the most progressive Democrats to make it through the primaries, Summer Lee, will also be marching in that parade Monday. Earlier today she told me that “I am excited to have President Biden join our Labor Day parade so he can see how Western PA is leading the expansion of our labor movement across all sectors and can be the model for the future of our movement nationwide. I hope to discuss the urgency in which we need to pass the PRO Act and protect our workers' right to organize so that they have the tools to protect themselves against the unchecked power of corporations and how Pittsburgh can lead the transition from fossil fuels to green union jobs for our future.”
Cartwright, one of the few Blue America-endorsed incumbents this year, told the Washington Post that he’s “been friends with Joe Biden for 30 years. What kind of person distances themselves from their friends just because their friends are a few points down in the polls?” Kraushaar noted that “when a Democrat in a Trump-carried district is willing to publicly sing Biden's praises, it signals a vibe shift.”
But as the public shifts in one direction, the Republicans are running in the opposite. Right now, they’re making plans for the Joe Biden impeachment hearings they plan to waste Congress’ time with if they win a majority of House seats. Mike Lillis reported on the farce-in-the-making for The Hill this morning, noting that impeaching Biden is the top priority for many of them! The House Republicans are following the fascist wing of the party on this one, Georgia Q-Anon Rep. Marjorie Traitor Greene having introduced 4 impeachment resolutions already.
A Republican member’s chief of staff, who asked for anonymity, told me this morning that Greene “has the depth of a junior high school student” but that Kevin “McCarthy is shaking in his loafers that she has the power to derail his life’s ambition” (to become speaker)… The inmates are running the asylum that our party has turned into.”
Irrational extremists like Greene “accuse Biden of committing ‘high crimes’ in his approach to a range of issues touching on border enforcement, the coronavirus pandemic and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Those resolutions never had a chance of seeing the light of day, with Democrats holding a narrow control of the lower chamber. But with Republicans widely expected to win the House majority in the midterms, many of those same conservatives want to tap their new potential powers to oust a president they deem unfit. Some would like to make it a first order of business,” wrote Lillis.
But “widely expected” is far less widely expected than it was just a month ago. Sharper political observers than those who parrot 3 week old conventional wisdom, now see the battle for the House as a toss up, with the Democrats having as much a chance of gaining seats than losing enough to toss the GOP the majority. The Republican tsunami turned into a Republican wave and then into a Republican trickle. Instead of playing offense, Republican strategists are rushing to defend vulnerable Republican incumbents like Mayra Flores (TX), Mike Garcia (CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), David Schweikert (AZ), Maria Salazar (FL), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA), Michelle Steel (CA), Steve Chabot (OH), Don Bacon (NE), Tony Gonzales (TX), David Valadao (CA), Scott Perry (PA), and Ashley Hinson (IA), as well as the Michigan and Washington seats Peter Meijer and Jaime Herrera Beutler lost in primary to extremists John Gibbs and Joe Kent.
The conservative impeachment drive is reminiscent of that orchestrated by liberals four years ago, as Democrats took control of the House in 2019 under then-President Trump. At the time, a small handful of vocal progressives wanted to impeach Trump, largely over accusations that he’d obstructed a Justice Department probe into Russian ties to his 2016 campaign. The idea was repeatedly rejected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), not least out of fear that it would alienate voters in tough battleground districts.
The tide turned when a whistleblower accused Trump of pressuring a foreign power to find dirt on his political opponent— a charge that brought centrist Democrats onto the impeachment train. With moderates on board, Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry in September of 2019, eight months after taking the Speaker’s gavel. Three months later, the House impeached Trump on two counts related to abusing power.
The difference between then and now is that liberals, in early 2019, were fighting a lonely battle with scant support. This year, heading into the midterms, dozens of conservatives have either endorsed Biden’s impeachment formally, or have suggested they’re ready to support it.
At least eight resolutions to impeach Biden have been offered since he took office: Three related to his handling of the migrant surge at the southern border; three targeting his management of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year; one denouncing the eviction moratorium designed to help renters during the pandemic; and still another connected to the overseas business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.
Those proposals will expire with the end of this Congress. But some of the sponsors are already vowing to revisit them quickly next year. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the lead sponsor of four of the impeachment resolutions, is among them.
“She believes Joe Biden should have been impeached as soon as he was sworn in, so of course she wants it to happen as soon as possible,” Nick Dyer, a Greene spokesman, said Monday in an email.
A noisy impeachment push from the GOP’s right flank could create headaches for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA), the Republican leader in line to be Speaker, and other party brass just as the 2024 presidential cycle heats up.
On the one hand, impeaching Biden could alienate moderate voters and hurt the GOP at the polls, as was the case in 1998 following the impeachment of President Clinton. Already, GOP leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY) are throwing cold water on the impeachment talk, suggesting it could damage Republicans politically in the midterms.
On the other hand, ignoring the conservatives’ impeachment entreaties might spark a revolt from a Republican base keen to avenge the Democrats’ two impeachments of Trump, who remains the most popular national figure in the GOP. McCarthy knows well the perils of angering the far right: The Freedom Caucus had nudged Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) into an early retirement in 2015, deeming him insufficiently conservative, then prevented McCarthy from replacing him.
…The challenge facing Republican leaders in a GOP-controlled House will be to demonstrate an aggressive posture toward the administration, to appease conservatives, without alienating moderate voters in the process.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) appears to be walking that line. Last summer, she called Biden “unfit to serve as president,” but stopped short of endorsing his impeachment.
The “mainstream” GOP position is to impeach cabinet members like Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland— and Vice President Kamala Harris. “’Next January I expect the House to pursue my impeachment articles against Mayorkas as well as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s impeachment articles that I co-sponsored against Attorney General Merrick Garland,’ Biggs added. Still, conservatives like Biggs, the former head of the Freedom Caucus, also want to go straight to the top by impeaching Biden. And it remains unclear if anything less than that will appease the GOP’s restive right flank— one that’s expected to grow next year with the arrival of a number of pro-Trump conservatives vowing to take on anyone they consider to be part of Washington’s political establishment.”