The Conventional Wisdom About Joe Biden

It’s Thursday, so we rate….

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TRUTHINESS: 20 out of 10.

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Any White House tires to set the convention wisdom in its favor through actions and spin.

But the reality is that even the most effective administration has to wage a minute-by-minute war with the political opposition and the media, both of whom are looking to put their own frame around the daily to and fro.

The most typical media prism is competence, and the standards are high: the presidential and posse could be elegantly spinning 99 plates at any moment, but if just one disc falls to the ground, well, the press declares the whole operation to be as incompetent and failed as The Bad News Bears before Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) showed up.

For the Redlands now, there is definitely interest in the “the Biden Gang can’t shoot straight” theme, but the preferred lens is “the Democrats are so left, they’ve left America,” which is truly an oldie but goodie for the right.

So, as we do every Thursday, let’s aggregate some of latest CW and put it to the test.

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CW PROPOSITION: Team Biden’s inept handling of the Tanden nomination is a metaphor for the growing doubts that chief of staff Ron Klain and the president himself have Capitol Hill game.

Cue the Wall Street Journal news story:

Sen. Bernie Sanders never got a heads up. There was no campaign to pressure Sen. Joe Manchin to change his mind. And the phones didn’t immediately ring in the offices of key Senate Republicans when it became clear the White House needed them….

Over the weekend, once it became obvious that Ms. Tanden’s nomination was in serious trouble, lawmakers and aides say they saw scant evidence of an intensive campaign to salvage the pick from a team that promised to bring Capitol Hill savvy back to the West Wing.

TRUTHINESS: 5 out of 10.

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CW PROPOSITION: The elements of the Biden-Pelosi-Schumer COVID bill poll very well with voters and therefore its passage will inevitably be a big benefit for Democrats in the midterms, while Republicans who vote against it will be punished by the voters in 2022.

Cue the history books that show the Obama-Biden administration thought the exact same thing about the unified Republican opposition to the Democrats initial big spending effort to deal with the financial crisis in 2009 – and that show what happened in the 2010 midterm shellacking.

TRUTHINESS: 2 out of 10 (or too soon to say!).

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CW PROPOSITION: The U.S. economy is going to take off like a rocket in Q2 and/or Q3 regardless of what Joe Biden and Congress do, setting the president up to be the rooster who takes credit for the rising sun.

TRUTHINESS: 7 out of 10 (or too soon to say…).

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CW PROPOSITION: Joe Biden is going to have as hard a time living up to his campaign rhetoric on Saudi Arabia as he will on any other promise.

Here’s David Sanger’s extraordinary New York Times lede:

As a candidate, President Biden left no doubt what he thought about how the United States should deal with Saudi Arabia.

His plan, he said, was to make the Saudis “pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.” Mr. Biden was equally blunt about the Saudi royal family. There is “very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Now, as president, Mr. Biden must deal with that government, whether it has redeeming value or not. And he must navigate a series of campaign promises to cut off arms shipments and make public the American intelligence conclusions about the role of Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince and the de facto leader of the country, in the killing of the dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

That process appears likely to begin this week when Mr. Biden plans to hold his first conversation with the ailing King Salman. And while the call will be full of diplomatic pleasantries, officials say, the real purpose is to warn him that the intelligence report is going to be declassified and published. The White House would say little about the carefully sequenced set of events, other than that no conversation between the two men had yet been scheduled — though clearly one was in the works.

TRUTHINESS: 8 out of 10.

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CW PROPOSITION: Dealing with immigration is going to make dealing with Saudi Arabia look like a day in Alapocas Run State Park for Mr. Biden.

The Washington Post’s essential read suggests ya:

President Biden promised to restore the United States’ reputation as a “beacon for the globe” by reopening the nation’s doors to immigrants and refugees. But he has infuriated some supporters by expelling tens of thousands of migrants, restoring an unlicensed shelter for migrant children and struggling to implement policy changes without a full staff in place.

After barely a month in office, Biden is scrambling to explain to some Democrats that his “Day One” promises for a gentler immigration system will take more time with health and economic crises engulfing the United States.

The risks of an early political backlash for Biden are growing. Former president Donald Trump dispatched his deputies to the Hill on Wednesday to lobby against Biden’s immigration overhauls, and Trump plans to blast those changes in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement email obtained by The Washington Post shows that the administration has already entered crisis mode on the southern border.

“We need to prepare for border surges now,” Timothy Perry, ICE’s new chief of staff, wrote in a Feb. 12 email. “We need to begin making changes immediately.”

The Biden administration is so worried about running out of shelter space for teenagers and children who cross the border without their parents that shelters have been authorized to purchase airplane tickets and cover other transportation costs for minors whose relatives are already living in the United States, according to an email from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement — which runs the shelters — that was obtained by The Post….

“If you think Obama focusing on health care during the recession was a misalignment of priorities, that is nothing compared to opening America’s borders and shutting down enforcement during an economically ravaging pandemic,” [Trump adviser Stephen] Miller said in an interview. “From a purely political standpoint, this is a recipe for Democrats to have an historic drubbing in the midterms if we can make it even as big an issue or bigger than Obamacare.”

TRUTHINESS: 11 out of 10.

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CW PROPOSITION: There are more negative stories coming about Hunter Biden that will not be received in the White House as beautiful things – and which will make some in Biden World wonder why they took all this on under the circumstances.

TRUTHINESS: 8 ½ out of 10.

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CW PROPOSITION: The White House is going to have to keep its head down to avoid the political fallout on the way for its two big Blue state cover guvs.

TRUTHINESS: 10 out of 10.

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CW PROPOSITION: The more Joe Manchin wins, the more Joe Manchin likes winning, the bigger the problem he becomes for Team Biden.

TRUTHINESS: 5 out of 10.

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ON OTHER MATTERS:

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CW PROPOSITION: There are more uneasy days coming for the Kevin McCarthy-Liz Cheney alliance.

Essential viewing:

TRUTHINESS: 10 out of 10.

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CW PROPOSITION: Democratic voters don’t have much use for 74 million of their countrypersons.

TRUTHINESS: 10 out of 10.

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CW PROPOSITION: Donald Trump’s Sunday CPAC speech contains multitudes of fateful choices.

I strongly recommend Karl Rove’s column on the two broad paths available to the leader of the Republican Party.

TRUTHINESS: 7 out of 10.

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