Happy Sunday, Jill Biden and Iris Weinshall
Credit where credit is due....
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As a fully united Democratic Party under the leadership of Team Biden-Harris-Klain-Pelosi-Schumer moves towards Senate passage of a historic reconciliation bill embodying many of the party’s longstanding, cherished goals, there are four political questions screaming out:
1. Will this bill, along with the other recent achievements, improve Joe Biden’s poll numbers?
2. Will improved Biden poll numbers, Democratic legislative achievements, the increased prominence of abortion and gun politics, the weakness of Republican midterm candidates, and powerful Democratic fundraising turn a presumed Red tsunami into a shocking Blue surprise?
3. Will the Dominant Media get back on the Biden Train?
4. Will Joe Biden run for reelection?
Previewing the Gang of 500 consensus at the weekly Lauriol Plaza Sunday brunch later today: not much, not really, yes, and no.
Here are my answers: probably, maybe, mostly, and perhaps but probably not.
Speaking for the heart and soul of the entire Democratic Party, from the socialist wing to the centrist wing, strategist Simon Bazelon published this an hour ago:
As I write this, it’s 6:00 am Eastern time, and 3:00 am on the west coast, where I am. The U.S. Senate is approaching the seventh hour of the “vote-a-rama” process, as they continue to debate the Inflation Reduction Act. The world is asleep, except for the Senators, their staff, a few determined reporters, and a couple politics junkies like me…..
A few months ago, it looked like Biden was facing a legislatively failed presidency, with little in the way of a lasting legacy on domestic policy. Today, it seems likely that we’re going to get:
An economic rescue plan that has helped lead to the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years
A major investment in American infrastructure, that doubled as an impressive display of bipartisanship
The first significant gun safety legislation in more than a decade
Electoral Count Act reform, on a bipartisan basis
A $280 billion dollar investment in semiconductor manufacturing, as well as American science
The confirmation of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court
The Inflation Reduction Act
For a 50-50 Senate, that’s pretty damn impressive.
Joining the chorus:
We can already see in the media coverage (which treats Republican objections to the reconciliation package like they are of the same clarity and significance as the voices of adults in “Peanuts”) the storyline long pined for by Ron Klain & Co., as, for instance, in Sunday’s New York Times:
The vote put the bill on track to pass the Senate as early as Sunday, with the House expected to give its approval by the end of the week. That would provide a major boost to Mr. Biden at a time when his popularity is sagging, and it would hand Democrats a victory going into midterm elections in November in which their congressional majorities are at stake.
“I think this legislation is long overdue and is critically important,” Ms. Harris said after casting her vote. “It’s going to lower costs for American families.”
From another Times story, pending an expected second additional negative COVID test Sunday morning:
After his trip to Rehoboth Beach, Mr. Biden and the first lady are slated to travel to Kentucky on Monday to meet with victims of the flooding there. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the White House is planning to hold ceremonies for the president to sign legislation investing in the domestic semiconductor industry and expanding medical care for veterans exposed to toxic substances from burning trash pits on military bases.
And this is 101st Senator Paul Kane of the Washington Post in the Sunday editions, with the construction of midterm analysis all y’all better get used to:
The top lines for Democrats continue to be brutal heading into the November midterm elections: Voters are furious about inflation, they overwhelmingly believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, and President Biden is not at all a popular figure.
But based on recent polling, the issue matrix has shifted enough to provide Democrats some hope that they can limit some of their potential losses and outperform expectations, especially in statewide races for the U.S. Senate and governorships.
A giant tea leaf: Even the New York Post’s virulently anti-Biden columnist Michael Goodwin is getting in on the act, sounding more like Jennifer Rubin than himself:
[D]evelopments are shaking up expectations of what will happen in the fall midterms. The long-held assumption of a red wave is growing iffy as the generic congressional ballot is now virtually even and Dems are energized by the possibility they could hold on to one or both houses and win some key state races.
So today, and all the coming week, headed to expected House passage of the reconciliation package Friday-ish (and then another, even bigger White House bill signing ceremony shortly thereafter), expect the “Biden Is Back, Baby” meme to proliferate and put down some roots.
There are two stories out there today that are super cautionary for those who want (or expect…) there to be Four More Years of Joe Biden.
First is the classic-of-the-genre NBC News web piece about how the Democrats’ fat cat donors are not happy with the Biden presidency because, well, Joe Biden is old, has bad poll numbers, and isn’t giving his bundlers the TLC stroking which they believe is their birthright.
President Joe Biden’s donors are antsy — worried about his re-election chances, annoyed that they have little access to him and, in some cases, prepared to walk away from him in 2024.
“Privately, I see a lot of donors being very nervous,” one veteran party fundraiser said. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure [for Biden to step aside] coming up post-midterms….”
Interviews with more than a dozen Democratic insiders paint a picture of a donor class that faces a conundrum with Biden. Some feel they’re not getting the attention they deserve, as evidenced by a hastily scheduled virtual conference between the president and major fundraisers Wednesday night. Many contributors and big-money bundlers would prefer a different nominee in 2024 but are sticking with Biden primarily because they believe he is the party’s strongest contender against Trump.
If Trump doesn’t run, though, there are concerns that Biden would have trouble beating a younger Republican nominee, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and donors would be more likely to recruit and support alternatives. Like the veteran party fundraiser, these sources spoke on the condition of anonymity to give a candid assessment of the mood.
Crucially, influential buck-rakers see his White House as indifferent to them, giving them less reason to stand behind Biden if he looks vulnerable following the midterms. Whether it’s failing to arrange for a White House tour, a grip-and-grin photo with the president, or an invitation to one of his events outside Washington, Democratic insiders say the Biden team’s engagement with donors has been anywhere from nonexistent to woefully ineffectual. That has triggered deep resentment among many of those who helped Biden win the presidency in 2020 and whose enthusiastic support is essential if he is to retain it.
Anyone who has ever heard a disgruntled donor of either party complain about what they see as insufficient gratitude from a White House will laugh and nod knowingly at the blind quotes in this piece.
Forget the absence of sufficient Air Force One M&Ms; embedded in the crevices of his essential reading story are some of the main reasons why even a legislatively successfully Biden 2021-22 might not lead to his renomination.
And then there is MoDo:
Maureen Dowd’s column, which many of you have likely already read, will be Topic A at the brunch, of more interest to the Gang than the pending passage of the reconciliation bill.
In it, she argues that Biden should ride his victory lap to a declaration that he will not seek another term.
There are a lot of variables and a lot going on for an August Sunday, but let’s make one thing clear: As long as Donald Trump appears to be on track to run for and win the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, Joe Biden intends to run for reelection.
And as the only Democrat with the proven ability to beat Trump in a one-on-one matchup – and with a growing bevy of legislative achievements already under his well-exercised belt – Biden-Harris 2024 is, in the incumbent’s mind, not only a possibility but a high probability.
Check out Politico’s coverage of Trump’s dominating of CPAC and Fox News person-on-the-street “confirmation” at Friday night’s Trump rally in Wisconsin that MAGA still HEARTS its man to understand the formula:
Trump ’24 = Biden ’24 (regardless of what Maureen says).
That is now, for the foreseeable future, going to be the conventional wisdom.
Let’s reconvene in November and see if it holds.
The New York Times look at the Liz Cheney Moment contains an interview with her and this:
What’s more puzzling than her schedule is why Ms. Cheney, who has raised over $13 million, has not poured more money into the race, especially early on when she had an opportunity to define Ms. Hageman. Ms. Cheney had spent roughly half her war chest as of the start of July, spurring speculation that she was saving money for future efforts against Mr. Trump.
Ms. Cheney long ago stopped attending meetings of House Republicans. When at the Capitol, she spends much of her time with the Democrats on the Jan. 6 panel and often heads to the Lindy Boggs Room, the reception room for female lawmakers, rather than the House floor with the male-dominated House G.O.P. conference. Some members of the Jan. 6 panel have been struck by how often her Zoom background is her suburban Virginia home.
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