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Axios reports that President Biden has been consulting with historians in his quest to figure out who he is — and that, right on cue, those historians have suggested that Biden is a Great Man who has been sent to completely overhaul the United States.
Among the ideas with which the president’s consultants apparently agreed are that now is the time for Biden to “jam through once-in-a-lifetime historic changes to America,” that he must “go even bigger and faster than anyone expected,” and that it would be a good idea for him to “jam through what could amount to a $5 trillion overhaul of America, and vast changes to voting, immigration and inequality.”
Evidently, the Biden years are set to involve a lot of “jamming.”
Let us mince no words: This advice is deranged. FDR and LBJ, to whom the historians apparently have compared Biden, were both swept into office in landslide victories, alongside large congressional majorities — often large supermajorities — that were on board with their agenda. Joe Biden, by contrast, won the Electoral College by 45,000 votes, enjoys no majority in the Senate, and has a House majority so thin that the Democratic Party is trying to steal a House seat in Iowa that has already been certified for the GOP.
As Lloyd Bentsen might have said: I’ve read about FDR, and Joe Biden, you are no FDR.
Does Joe Biden know this?
Thanks to the Republicans’ suicidal post-election behavior, it will certainly be much easier for the Democratic Party to spend gobs of cash that we don’t have — and, maybe, to put some of that spending on a permanent footing. This represents no small alteration and should be resisted at all cost. But the remaining the areas in which Biden hopes to make “once-in-a-lifetime historic changes” represent an entirely different story.
Axios suggests that Biden “loves the growing narrative that he’s bolder and bigger-thinking than President Obama,” and I daresay that he does; for a certain sort of mediocrity, being fluffed by Michael Beschloss and Ezra Klein is a dream come true. But the important questions remain the same now as they were before that narrative emerged — and, indeed, remain the same as they were during President Obama’s interrupted tenure. What does Congress think? What do voters think? And how do those two inquiries intersect?
Here, we come back to earth. In Politico’s Playbook, a former Obama administration staffer suggests that the growing willingness of individual Democratic senators to put their foot down on issues that are important to them “shows that Biden isn’t feared on the Hill. He’s no LBJ.” Having established that, Playbook goes on to confirm just how precarious the entire Democratic agenda will remain even if the Senate were to abolish the legislative filibuster.
Immigration reform? Uh oh. Per a Morning Consult poll, “Forty-three percent of voters overall believe that undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. should have a pathway to citizenship — down 14 points since January.” That includes just 25 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats.
Gun control? Seems unlikely. A ban on “assault weapons” is not even on the table, and, because the various players have such dramatically different conceptions of what is acceptable, any push for “universal background checks” is unlikely to get to 50 votes.
Voting? H.R.1 may be well-supported in the press, but it’s a total mess of a bill, it is vehemently opposed by the Republican Party, it has been savaged by election officials in Joe Manchin’s home state, and it contains a host of provisions that are, frankly, spectacularly unpopular across all political and demographic groups.
And climate change? Well, if you really believe that the “Green New Deal” would be popular — even among Democratic constituencies — I’ve got a carbon-neutral bridge to sell you.
Which leaves . . . what? D.C. statehood? Not only is that unconstitutional, it’s a 70–30 issue in Republicans’ favor. Packing the Supreme Court? That doesn’t appeal to more than a third of Democrats. Single-payer health care? Now we’re just getting silly.
If Axios is correct about Joe Biden’s mindset, then Biden has perpetrated a monumental fraud on the American public. For the man whose quiet pitch was more “return to normalcy” than “fundamentally transform,” to believe that he is the Progressive Chosen One would be an extraordinary thing indeed. Biden is there to play caretaker, to serve as a stand-in, to represent compromise in a deeply divided nation.
“Overhaul of America”? You and whose army?
Adapted with permission from National Review.
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