The Highs and Lows of Being Joe Biden

Flying and building airplanes…

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I asked members of this week’s focus group group about who is to blame for the partisan gridlock in Washington.

All eight of the participants – four Biden voters and four Trump voters – cited Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell, with no one in the group expressing a positive view of McConnell.

When asked who they would like to see wield more influence in Washington, all four Trump voters volunteered the name of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, deeming him more authentic than other Republicans, such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Week after week, Republicans from around the country in these sessions express admiration and support for DeSantis above all other hopefuls.

You can watch some of the focus group here:

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Legendary New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is legendary for a lot of reasons: her keen eye, her sharp pen, and her uncanny ability to meld the iconoclastic with the conventional wisdom.

She also has the advantage of having covered Joe Biden in the ‘80s, Bill Clinton in the ‘90s, and Barack Obama from the start of his national rise.

The latest result?

A brilliant, essential reading column teasing out the most important realities of Joe Biden’s present from the Delawarean’s past ties to Team Obama.

Read it all; here’s a taste of the tart-yet-firm center:

Creaky, old-fashioned Joe moved fast and broke things. Unlike the sleek, modern Obama, who kept trying to work with obstructionist Republicans, Biden blew them off, calling it “an easy choice.”

Progressives, who had fretted that Biden would govern in a centrist hell, trapped in a sepia, split-the-difference Washington where Mitch McConnell would eat his lunch, were pleasantly surprised….

Obama’s failure to go big and to send the tumbrels rolling down Wall Street certainly greased the runway for Donald Trump. The paradox of Obama is that Americans embraced radical change by electing him but then he held himself in check, mistakenly believing that he was all the change they could handle.

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How do we know that Sunday is not the day that Team Biden solves the challenge/crisis at the Mexican border?

A covey of press accounts laying out the (brief) history, current politics, and unrelenting dimensions of the challenge/crisis.

The Washington Post attaches several bylines to the most essential reading piece published anywhere to date on the matter, which includes too much choice material to quote in full, but here’s some:

The situation at the border — which Biden and his advisers steadfastly refuse to call a crisis — is the result of an administration that was forewarned of the coming surge, yet still ill-prepared and lacking the capacity to deal with it. Administration officials have been plagued by muddled messaging, sometimes making appeals that seem directed more at liberal activists than the migrants they need to dissuade from coming to the country….

“When you create a system that incentivizes people to come across, and they are released, that immediately sends a message to Central America that if you come across you can stay,” said Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, whose South Texas district sits near the border with Mexico. “It incentivizes droves of people to come, and the only way to slow it down is by changing policy at our doorstep. If they don’t change the policy, the flow of continued migration traffic isn’t going to stop or slow down….”

“We made the choice that we don’t want to be an administration that — if we can help it — has to turn back kids,” [Susan] Rice, Biden’s domestic policy adviser, said in an interview. “We’re basically having to build the plane as we’re flying.”

The warnings began before Biden even took office.

During the transition period, career officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection tried to issue sober alarms to the Biden team about the likelihood of a crisis at the border that could quickly overwhelm the nation’s capacity. Senior CBP officials delivered Zoom briefings to the Biden transition team that included modeling projections showing a steep increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors if Trump’s policies were suddenly lifted, according to one current and two former Department of Homeland Security officials….

On Wednesday, White House officials convened a private video call with Democratic strategists and prominent voices on immigration to coordinate their messaging. The officials talked about the need to push back against Republican attacks on the topic, and stressed key talking points — that immigration trends are cyclical and that Trump’s mishandling of the system made the challenges for Biden even harder, according to three people on the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal discussions.

Another Washington Post piece includes this passage, presented without the explicit characterization to which most WWoN readers would jump:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who also went on the trip, said these are “not kids in so-called cages.”

But, he added, they are not facilities that anyone would “want your child in for more than 10 minutes.”

“You’re sleeping on thin mattresses on the floor. They are sort of bunched, you know, about six inches to a foot from each other,” Murphy said on NPR Saturday. “We’ve got to ultimately do better.”

Concluding the Post’s Sunday triptych is a Dan Balz column which calmly lays out the political challenges the administration faces.

You already give Jeff Bezos a lot of cash money via Amazon; might as well kick in more to get this important content.

Finally, the Associated Press gets in on the act, with the kind of square blame placing that much of the Dominant Media now is laying out:

While the administration was working on immigration legislation to address long-term problems, it didn’t have an on-the-ground plan to manage a surge of migrants. Career immigration officials had warned there could be a surge after the presidential election and the news that the Trump policies, widely viewed as cruel, were being reversed.

Now officials are scrambling to build up capacity to care for some 14,000 migrants now in federal custody — and more likely on the way — and the administration finds itself on its heels in the face of criticism that it should have been better prepared to deal with a predictable predicament.

Broken-record prediction: As long as the administration chooses spinning/defending the current challenge/crisis over changing the policies, this will not end (or end well) for vulnerable human beings or the White House.

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THE ROUNDBALL ROUNDUP

The Pros:

The Madness of March:

A summary of Saturday’s men’s action here.

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RELATIONSHIP TO WATCH I: SUSAN COLLINS AND RON KLAIN

Via the Wall Street Journal:

“Why they would want to alienate the Republican most likely to work with them to find common ground is truly a mystery to me. And it’s obviously a very poor strategy,” [Collins] said in an interview….

[S]he says that White House chief of staff Ron Klain and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) are undercutting those efforts in order to satisfy the Democratic base.

She said Mr. Klain was dismissive of what she termed a good faith offer from a group of 10 Republicans on a slimmed-down relief package, less than one-third the size of what Democrats ultimately passed. She also said Mr. Klain has twice retweeted recent comments that she perceived as negative about her. Mr. Klain had previously praised her for her bipartisanship in a handful of tweets during the Trump administration….

A White House official said aides have been in touch with Ms. Collins and her team multiple times every week. Conversations have been on a range of issues, including convening a meeting with her and the Maine delegation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration focused on fishing, the official said. The White House declined to comment on Ms. Collins’s remarks regarding Mr. Klain.

Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Ms. Collins, said the senator and Mr. Klain on Friday had “a constructive conversation….”

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was chief of staff under Mr. Obama and worked with Ms. Collins on the 2009 negotiations, said that Mr. Klain hoped to patch things up.

“In my conversations with Ron, he regrets that the relationship with Sen. Collins has gotten off on the wrong foot and wants to right the ship. He knows she is earnest in wanting to help Joe Biden, ” said Mr. Emanuel.

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RELATIONSHIP TO WATCH II: TEAM SANDERS AND LARRY SUMMERS

“These are the least responsible fiscal macroeconomic policy we’ve have had for the last 40 years,” Summers said. “It’s fundamentally driven by intransigence on the Democratic left and intransigence and the completely irresponsible behavior in the whole of the Republican Party.” (Bloomberg)

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Miami Herald:

Frustrated and concerned by overwhelming spring break crowds that have overrun the city’s entertainment district, the city of Miami Beach on Saturday tried to shut down the party by imposing an 8 p.m. curfew in South Beach and closing the causeways into the city to visiting traffic.

The sudden orders — which some business owners worry could cripple venues banking on the crush of tourists to help them bounce back from the pandemic — constituted the most far-reaching restrictions on spring break partying that Miami Beach City Hall has imposed in recent memory, said interim City Manager Raul Aguila, who declared a state of emergency.

“These crowds are in the thousands,” Aguila said. “We’re at capacity.”

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As long-time WWoN readers know, no story is more essential in the wide world of news than the attempts of the United States to gain leverage over China and Russia.

For those that share that view, please make time to read the New York Times’ David Sanger’s step back from last week’s events.

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CORRECTION

Saturday, in attempting to link to Reason’s Robby Soave article about Alexi McCammond, I linked somewhere else.

I regret that my copy-n-paste skills are sometimes deficient, I regret the error, and I provide you the correct link here.

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