The last two Democratic presidents — Barack Obama and Bill Clinton — began their presidencies with grandiose plans to make America into a social-democratic paradise. Both presidents came crashing back to reality when their polling numbers went south very quickly. They began to emphasize decidedly conservative issues like the deficit, defense spending, and law and order.

Joe Biden now finds himself in exactly the same position as Obama and Clinton were in coming up to their first midterm election — dismal approval numbers and Republicans surging. He too will now look to emphasize less radical, more moderate issues.

But the difference for Biden is the party he leads compared to the party Obama and Clinton led.

The party Biden leads is the most radical, left-wing political party in American history. It can fairly be said that the kind of “transformation” desired by Democrats would leave the country unrecognizable to all but the most committed leftists.

Does anyone believe Biden’s lurch to the center is anything but an electoral two-step?


Underscored by his budget last week, Biden’s emerging election-year blueprint is to emphasize police and defense spending, accentuate federal deficit reduction and propose higher taxes on the ultra-rich. It’s the early centerpiece of a platform that Biden’s defenders note he’s deployed consistently over his long career. But gone is his early-presidency emphasis on bold deficit spending and revamping the social safety net to achieve long-sought Democratic priorities. In its place is an increased focus ondomestic and international security and stability.

Biden’s approach, which has been evident in recent speeches and described in further detail by advisers and close allies, is the clearest sign yet that the White House is trying to reestablish his broader competency ratings, which have taken sustained hits going back to the fall. And it follows months of calls from within the party for the White House to more aggressively chart a path for what promises to be a bruising fall election cycle.

Propaganda can only take the Democrats so far. If Biden and his party had demonstrated any interest whatsoever in strengthening America’s defenses, getting the federal deficit under control, or going to war against gangs and other criminals, this sudden emphasis on these issues might have some credibility.

But in fact, Biden and the Democrats have demonstrated by thought, word, and deed that they not only don’t care about these issues, but they also dismissed the idea that deficits were damaging. They claimed we were already spending too much on defense. And many Democrats gave a full-throated endorsement to the “Defund the Police” movement.

“Political reality just didn’t support the expansive view of progressive possibilities,” said Bill Galston, the former Clinton administration official now at the Brookings Institution. “If you put an ideological template on it, you have to say the correction is to the center.”

The recalibrated approach has not been received well by the entirety of the party. Progressive lawmakers and strategists have taken early aim at the proposed increases in defense spending. Operatives argue that the White House’s focus on deficit reduction is merely an effort to appease moderate Democratic senators to unlock their votes on Biden’s domestic agenda. They view the billionaires tax talk as a fig leaf to the left and stress that the midterm pitch cannot simply center on attempts to stifle GOP criticism for frontline members.

You sort of hope that those radicals get their way and force Biden to run on his climate agenda and massive social spending plans in the Build Back Better bill. They should be encouraged in their delusions because if that’s what they’re going to present to the voters in November, their defeat will be historic.

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