The Darkness of Biden/Trump
The never-ending matchup....
“Let me tell you about this Ultra-MAGA Agenda. It’s extreme, as most MAGA things are…. this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that's existed in American history -- in recent American history.”
-- Joe Biden Wednesday, saying what he truly believes and/but writing off, what, over 40% of the nation?
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Who will unite us during these fractious times, with barricades going up around the Supreme Court, the nation beset by inflation, crime, foreign threats, and all manner of urgent challenges?
On abortion, perhaps Joe Biden is uniquely situated to understand the broad continuum of American opinions on this contentious issue, since he himself seems to have held pretty much every position along the spectrum.
As per the New York Times:
To the extent that he has discussed abortion this week, he used phrasing that was far from the preferred language of his own side. On Tuesday, he referred to “the judgment to choose to abort a child,” a wording that seemed to accept the anti-abortion argument that it is a child, not merely a fetus, that is aborted….
Mr. Biden was first sworn into the Senate in January 1973, just 17 days before the Supreme Court issued Roe. and at the time he accused the justices of going “too far.” In an interview a year later, he said a woman should not have “the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”
In 1982, Mr. Biden voted for a constitutional amendment pushed by President Ronald Reagan allowing individual states to overturn Roe. He called it “the single most difficult vote I’ve cast as a U.S. senator” but explained it in the context of his faith. “I’m probably a victim, or a product, however you want to phrase it, of my background,” he said. He reversed himself and voted against the amendment a year later.
For years, he voted for the so-called Hyde Amendment barring the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion and proposed an amendment of his own to prohibit foreign aid for biomedical research related to abortion. He voted for legislation outlawing a rare late-term abortion procedure. But as he noted repeatedly in recent days, he also led the fight against confirming Robert H. Bork, an outspoken abortion foe nominated by Reagan to the Supreme Court.
By the time Mr. Biden was gearing up for his second run for the presidency, he presented himself as a changed man. “I was 29 years old when I came to the U.S. Senate, and I have learned a lot,” he said on “Meet the Press” on NBC in 2007. “Look, I’m a practicing Catholic, and it is the biggest dilemma for me in terms of comporting my religious and cultural views with my political responsibility.”
His shift in position to meet his political needs was most recently on display in 2019 as he battled more progressive opponents to win the Democratic presidential nomination. One day his campaign said he still supported the Hyde Amendment, but after an uproar on the left, he reversed his longstanding stance the next day.
As a result, both sides share uncertainty about his true convictions. “If you follow his history on this, Joe Biden has been on this issue wherever he thought it was politically expedient,” said David N. O’Steen, the executive director of the National Right to Life Committee. “Internally how does he really feel? Nobody really knows how he feels.”
The Biden presidency doesn’t have to be looked at only through the prism of it being a manifestation of a majority of the nation’s reaction to Donald Trump, but history might well record that such a perspective is the best way to make sense of both the existence of Joe Biden as president and the manner in which he has conducted himself in the Oval Office.
On the two issues that arguably most account for Trump’s 2016 victory – immigration and China – Joe Biden has struggled to grapple with (and break from) his predecessor’s record and rhetoric.
So the Washington Post fact checker gives Biden’s Homeland Security secretary three Pinocchios for claiming that people who enter the U.S. illegally are removed “promptly.”
And on China, a case of COVID has postponed Secretary of State Blinken’s long-delayed policy speech, which appears will be an attempt more at Council on Foreign Relations circle-squaring than at providing a strategic piece of the midterm puzzle:
According to foreign-policy experts who consult with the administration, the speech is unlikely to offer an approach different from what the White House has outlined during the past year—that is, working with allies to confront and compete with China, while establishing “guardrails” to prevent the competition from becoming outright hostile.
As November approaches, Joe Biden will be under even more pressure to become a partisan, the leader of his party as much (or more) than the leader of the nation.
Of course, Mr. Biden is not the first American president to be in such a position.
But the specter of Donald Trump and the array of crises the country faces now make this no ordinary moment.
And this dynamic is not going to diminish during the balance of Biden’s term; if anything, it will escalate.
A pair of Politico essential reads tell the tale.
From one, quoting Mitt Romney on Trump’s strong hold:
“I don’t delude myself into thinking I have a big swath of the Republican Party,” Romney said in a Wednesday interview. “It’s hard to imagine anything that would derail his support. So if he wants to become the nominee in ‘24, I think he’s very likely to achieve that.”
From the other, on a possible 2024 rematch:
The current president has had repeated conversations with allies that he would need to run again to prevent Trump from reclaiming the Oval Office. Like he did in 2020, Biden views Trump as an existential threat to American democracy. And like he did in 2020, Biden thinks he’s the only one who can beat him. He plans to more aggressively target Trump as the midterm season approaches — both as a means of turning around his party’s standing for the midterms but also to set up a contrast for the future….
“Everything is frozen until after the midterms. I expect Biden to run, I hope he runs. And I think if there is a credible primary challenger against Biden there is almost a certain Trump victory,” said Paul Begala, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton.
It might indeed be a time for choosing, but it also must be a time for leadership and unity.
Darker and more divided days are, unfortunately, coming.
OTHER ESSENTIAL READING
Weird Al biopic trailer that could also be an SNL parody:
Politico Playbook: JD Vance.
Punchbowl News: inflation.
Axios: Not available at press time.