What Could Go Wrong: Joe Biden Edition
Everything’s coming up peach blossoms….for now…
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There is no doubt the Republican Party is now a house/party divided: what to do about Donald Trump generally; what to do about impeachment; what to do about Joe Biden’s legislative agenda; what to do about the GOP brand; what to do about the culture wars; what to do about Liz Cheney; what to do about Kevin McCarthy; what to do about Mitch McConnell; what to do about Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley; what to do about hiring Trump loyalists; what to do about the RNC; what to do about the extreme elements of the coalition; what to do about The Donors; what to do as an after-action report over Georgia; what to do about ballot security; what to do about the midterms; what to do about incumbents retiring; what to do about primary challenges; what to do about 2024.
Democrats on the other hand, appear to be much more united.
The Biden personnel decisions, congressional policy priorities, executive orders, and style are winning near universal acclaim from both the Wall Street wing of the party and the Sanders wing of the party (not to mention – and/but to mention – the media wing of the party).
Same with the party’s congressional leadership and governors; huzzahs all around for Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer and their trusty lieutenants and allies.
The impeachment process, the looming presence of Donald Trump, McConnell, rightwing extremists, an activist agenda, the shared, warm embrace of Hollywood culture – all are strong adhesives keeping the party faithful simultaneously rowing in the same direction and singing from the same hymn sheet.
Although there is some Blue carping in the news cycle about Senators Manchin and Sinema staking out positions in favor of retaining the filibuster, the protestations are as mild as an order of kung pao chicken from an airport Panda Express.
With encouraging poll numbers, a sense of momentum, positive press clips, and broad unity, what could possibly go wrong for the Biden-Harris administration?
10. The left finally rebels over a lack of results on immigration and other policy priorities.
9. Recriminations over a likely Trump Senate trial acquittal.
8. Premier Xi.
7. Biden not pulling the plug on a search for bipartisan cooperation at the right time.
6. Mitch McConnell flipping into full 2009 mode, reunifying his party around opposition to a new Democratic president’s liberal agenda.
5. Large portions of the economy prove unrevivable in the short term, including tourism and hospitality.
4. The use of reconciliation for the pandemic package hardens partisan divisions and divides the Democrats.
2. Biden finds no way to pass any major legislation before late spring, if then.
1. The logistical challenges and new strains of the virus prove unmanageable.
Biden is not having the typical honeymoon of a new president, to say the least.
But he’s handling himself with a quiet confidence and apparent focus in a manner that so far is maximizing his advantages and minimizing his deficits.
But he also has not yet faced a genuine crisis that would fundamentally disrupt the narrative his team has cleverly labored to impose.
But perhaps a crisis would actually help him jump start the efforts to combat the virus and revive the economy.
But a crisis might overload the already jammed up bandwidth.
Joe Biden ran for president on two big premises: he would end the bitter partisanship that was eating away at the soul of the nation and simultaneously beat COVID and restore the economy.
The Biden vision was that achieving the first would help achieve the second, and vice versa.
While no one should by any means give up on the first goal, let’s say for the sake of argument that the early returns don’t look promising.
So, in conclusion, I leave you with what I believe is now the central mystery of the entire Biden presidency: Can he defeat COVID and bring about an economic revival without uniting substantial portions of Washington and the country?
Such an outcome flies against Biden’s own animating theory of the case.
But it looks like what he will have to do.
* Although filled with caveats of the “nothing is decided until everything is decided” type, this Washington Post story detailing the potential impeachment trial strategies of the House managers (plenty of video, heavy on timeline) and Team Trump (the former president will stay in Florida, do a lot of polling, and pressure Republican senators while staying in the GOP) is best in class.
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Topics: politics, the new Biden administration, the media, the Presumption of Grace, or whatever you wish.
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