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You Expected More From Joe Biden? When Will You Learn What A Conservative Is?

The new Associated Press poll by NORC doesn't just show him with a miserable approval rating (43% to 56% who disapprove) but also shows that most Americans (70%) don't want him to run again. Only 29% of Americans want Biden to run in 2024, including just 48% of Democrats. (27% of Americans want Trump to run in 2024, including 56% of Republicans). Most Democrats-- apparently not DWT readers-- say the job performance of Biden and Harris is about what they expected, while about two-thirds of Republicans describe their job performance as worse than anticipated.

Writing for Time Magazine today, Molly Ball and Brian Bennett noted that "the fate of Biden’s social-spending and climate package is more uncertain than ever. The pandemic he promised to bring to heel rages out of control. Inflation is at a four-decade high, canceling out rising wages. The border is a mess. Violent crime continues to climb. His approval rating has sunk to the low 40s. In the eyes of many Americans, 'it’s just been one disappointment after another,' says Iowa-based nonpartisan pollster J Ann Selzer. 'Joe Biden was supposed to be the expert at dealing with all of these issues. What is it that he’s done right? Other than getting infrastructure passed, what has he done that’s come off really well?' One year in, there’s a growing sense that the Biden presidency has lost its way. An Administration that pledged to restore competence and normalcy seems overmatched and reactive. Biden has been caught flat-footed by not one but two COVID-19 variants. He has repeatedly failed to close the deal with the Senate he boasted of mastering... [T]he President has been a shrinking figure, giving fewer interviews or press conferences than his predecessors. Voters widely question his capabilities. Privately, top Democrats acknowledge the public is losing faith in his leadership. 'What people don’t see is an overarching plan.'"

Here's an overarching plan. Don't you wish Biden gave this speech?

Yesterday TruthOut published an OpEd by John Knefel Biden’s Wing of the Democratic Party Is Sinking His Presidency. Biden read a written statement to reporters that he isn't Bernie Sanders. That's for sure-- Bernie's as popular as Biden is not-- and Knefel noted that "Biden’s agenda appears to be dead in the water. The much-touted Build Back Better Act, Biden’s signature legislation, has completely stalled out on Capitol Hill. It was initially linked with the infrastructure bill, but Democratic leadership and conservatives in the party were successful in beating down the Congressional Progressive Caucus until they ultimately relented and separated the bills. Ever since the bills were decoupled, Biden’s social spending bill has been dying a slow death at the hands of Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema."

Most of the blame for this sorry situation rests squarely at the feet of Senators Manchin and Sinema. Some have said working with Manchin is “like negotiating via Etch A Sketch” due to his constantly shifting negotiating positions. He holds so much power in the closely divided Senate that liberal TV host Chris Hayes has argued the White House should wave the white flag and just ask Manchin to write a Build Back Better bill that he’d sign. “I don’t quite understand why we haven’t gotten to the point where they say, Senator Manchin, write the bill that you will vote for and we will pass it, because that’s the only way out of this,” Hayes told The New York Times’s Ezra Klein. Others have argued for a similar approach to election reform, claiming that fixing the law Trump tried to use to stay in power, the Electoral Count Act, is the best and only option on the table.
Unfortunately, even these inadequate measures may prove to be too large a lift. Manchin, for his part, has already walked away from one version of the spending bill that he had previously endorsed. There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t do the same again. And any bipartisan election reform legislation that hampers Republican legal claims toward minority rule could stall out in a million different ways. Still, it’s understandable for those on the left to look over these meager offerings and take what few victories may be available. The time for playing hardball may have passed Biden by, and his pressure campaign is likely as much a form of virtue signaling to disaffected liberal voters as it is a real push to get passable legislation.
The broader blame for the predicament the Democrats find themselves in falls on the shoulders of the faction of the party that Biden and Schumer belong to-- the same faction as Manchin and Sinema. Decades of divestment from pro-labor policies in favor of neoliberal Clintonian triangulation has resulted in a party at odds with itself. The party is uninterested in, and incapable of, pursuing long-term strategies that require building a bench of progressive candidates and elected officials. Instead, the party’s organs function as an incumbent reelection racket and a jobs guarantee program for wealthy consultants whose only function is to punch to the left.
There’s no reason that the Democrats couldn’t field, support and elect a working-class candidate in West Virginia or Arizona, if that had been a multiyear priority. Rather than spending time and money training and cultivating teachers, working-class activists and union organizers, the Democratic Party has treated those types of candidates as hostile enemies to be vanquished. Instead, they prioritize prosecutors and veterans of a particular, centrist ideological bent. As a result, there will always be a Joe Manchin or a Kyrsten Sinema-- or a Joe Lieberman-- willing to tank the party’s entire agenda.
The irony is that after spending his career as a conservative Democrat, Biden’s agenda is being thwarted by his own supposed allies. He ran as a creature of the Senate, who could force Republicans to support some of his most ambitious plans due to his decades in elected office. Now, he can’t even whip support from his own party. If the Democrats hadn’t spent decades doing everything possible to disempower the left and the party’s activist base, Biden might actually be able to advance his legislation. Unfortunately for the millions of people in the United States who stand to benefit from Biden’s stalled plans, that has never been a priority for the modern Democratic Party.

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