Joe Biden Controls His Own Destiny

Unless and until he doesn’t….

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With the impeachment trial behind us, are the country and the Biden presidency back to normal?

The answers are yes, maybe, and no.

On the surface of the surface, conditions for Mr. Biden seem “good normal” to start the week.

But probe a bit and the honeymooning POTUS is facing what passes for normal in DC and America today, a set of circumstances that are as daunting as they are now routine.

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Look!

It’s a week-ahead schedule from the White House, complete with a president traveling to battleground states to go over the head of the national filter, around the congressional opposition, and straight to the hearts and minds of the American people (with a soupcon+ of national security and international coalition building added in):

Then there are the impeachment-is-over-let’s-turn-the-page cooperative efforts between major media organs and an on-the-record Jen Psaki giving out weekend quotes, as for instance, in the New York Times:

President Biden’s allies say that with the distraction of the impeachment trial of his predecessor now over, he will quickly press for passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan before moving on to an even bigger agenda in Congress that includes infrastructure, immigration, criminal justice reform, climate change and health care.

There’s the plan to use the bully pulpit and raised platform of the presidency to bend public opinion to the Biden will, thereby, via bankshot, bending Congress to the Biden will:

In recent days, senior members of Mr. Biden’s team have begun internal meetings at the White House to discuss what the next phase of his agenda will look like and how it will be rolled out, according to two top White House advisers. Some of that could be revealed publicly in March, when Mr. Biden is expected to deliver a joint address to Congress, as is traditional in a president’s first year in office.

And there’s the related effort to get state and local Republican officials who need Beltway cash money to clamor for action from the Feds, thereby, in theory, bending Congress to the Biden will, as per this Washington Post story.

This is all possible, the Gang of 500 will tell you, because the members of the other party are in disarray and at each other’s throats. Cut to Ms. Jennifer Palmieri on Mr. Joe Biden:

“He may be able to rally more of the country to his side when it comes to support for the agenda because of the lack of a cohesive Republican argument.” (New York Times)

The Wall Street Journal ed board seems to basically agree:

The country is moving past the Trump Presidency, and the GOP will remain in the wilderness until it does too.

And the Journal news side gives space to another Democrat who concurs:

 “It would be a mistake for Republicans to feel there is a mandate to continue their partisan obstructionism,” said Democratic pollster Margie Omero. “That’s just not where voters are.”

There’s this additional Washington Post story, about how the pandemic is starting to get under control, which would solve a lot of substantive and momentum problems for Team Biden.

And, finally, there’s this evidence (as if more evidence were needed) that Joe Biden is going to get more positive press coverage than his predecessor, which should grease some skids:

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If everything seems to be coming up peach blossoms for Wilmington Joe on this Monday, well, things aren’t always as they seem.

The Republican Party might be terribly divided over What To Do About Donald Trump, but there are characters and dynamics that threaten Biden’s prospects – by uniting the right (and whether the right is somewhat divided or not).

First, those who buy the Team Biden mantra that Joe is so decent and honorable that America can’t help but be swayed by him can get a clean and clear look at the Murdoch memes by reading this New York Post column by Miranda Devine, with lines such as this: 

Now that the election is over and President Biden is installed in the White House, it’s safe for the truth about his character to dribble out. 

And what do you know? Turns out the ethical standards of “Honest Joe” aren’t worth a hill of beans. 

Starting with the obvious, Hunter Biden is still in business with the Chinese Communist Party.

Then there is the matter of Mitch McConnell.

Rahm Emanuel, trying to give peanut gallery advice about how to tame the Kentuckian in the delivery mechanism form of a Wall Street Journal op ed inadvertently paints a dire picture:

Mr. Biden’s legacy will be defined largely by how well he handles Covid-19 and whether he can rev up the economy. His pledge to unify the country distinguished him as a candidate. Because many voters view bipartisanship as a core part of his character, abandoning it risks undermining his central appeal to swing voters and others. Keenly aware of the president’s situation, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is looking to force him into a no-win choice between a short-term legislative success and long-term bipartisanship. Mr. Biden’s challenge is to avoid Mr. McConnell’s trap—to pursue the robust pandemic relief package the country needs without destroying his relationships with moderate Republicans who will be crucial to passing his plan to “build back better.”

And this:

Mr. McConnell is playing the long game as always. He knows that Mr. Biden won’t scale back the funding required to get the country past this long, dark winter. As minority leader, he can’t stop Democrats from using the tools provided through the budget reconciliation process; he used the same strategy when championing tax cuts in 2017. He wants to make Mr. Biden’s coming legislative victory as costly as it can be politically, framing it to the public as evidence that the president’s professed devotion to bipartisanship was merely lip service. If senators come to believe that the president is stiff-arming Republicans, Mr. McConnell will more easily convince his GOP colleagues to join him in obstructing the rest of the president’s agenda.

(Speaking, as we were, of the Senate minority leader: if you want the best deconstruction and explanation of how McConnell approached impeachment, and is approaching the whole issue of Donald Trump, read this essential George F. Will column, in which he basically endorses the notion that his man Mitch has perfect pitch when it comes to letting the air out of the Trump balloon at just the right pace, given the circumstances.)

Then there is the only person the Blues detest more than McConnell (and Trump): Mr. Stephen Miller, who the Washington Post quotes and casts as the keeper of the 45 flame, and who makes an important point that is at least somewhat (and maybe a lot) true:

Miller, the former Trump aide, said that even if Biden is able to rewrite federal regulations, his predecessor’s broader legacy — a larger realignment in politics and a growing distrust in the establishment — will be much more difficult to take on.

“Nothing that Biden can do can possibly touch that,” Miller predicted.

And as Biden encounters policy challenges, the Reds will unify, sensing weakness and a purpose around which to rally, as in, for instance, the current travails on vaccine distribution (Wall Street Journal) and school reopenings (Washington Post).

So cue the Gang of 500 member who is as focused on winning back the congressional majorities for the GOP as anyone else:

“Biden is giving Republicans plenty of ammo,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed. “His continuing lurch to the left on domestic policy is creating a strong contrast for the midterm elections already.”

And, then, finally, cue the moment you’ve either been waiting for or dreading more than anything else, courtesy of the New York Times:

Even with the trial over, Mr. Trump does not appear to want to lose his grip on the nation’s psyche. Aides to the former president say Mr. Trump plans to hold a news conference from Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home, in the coming days.

Conclusion: Only time – and Trump – will tell.

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