David Axelrod, the man who masterminded the winning presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, believes that no one is in charge in the White House.
Discussing the filibuster “carve-out” for an abortion vote in the Senate that Biden has proposed, David Axelrod dismissed the idea, saying “I mean, this is the lot that Biden finds himself in. There is this sense that things are kind of out of control and he’s not in command. And this lends to that.”
This from a Democrat?
Axelrod isn’t saying there’s a “hidden hand” at work behind the throne. He’s not claiming Obama or anyone else is actually running the show. His point is even scarier: no one is in command.
The 79-year-old Biden is intellectually and cognitively deficient. Let that sink in for a second. It doesn’t just “seem” like no one is in charge. There is literally no one at the helm of the ship of state. Have you noticed how long it takes for a decision to be made, and how his staff always seems to be running around fixing his serious blunders?
Matt Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon argues that it’s not so much that “Biden is doing a bad job (although he is) as that it seems he isn’t doing the job at all.”
Lately, though, I have been having second thoughts. Not that Barack Obama or Ron Klain or Dr. Jill are running the show in secret. What I have been wondering, instead, is whether anyone is leading the government at all. There is no power, either overt or covert, in or behind the throne. The throne is empty.
Think of the economy, the border, and Ukraine. From time to time, Biden addresses these issues. He may even answer questions about them. The White House sends out press releases describing its latest initiatives. Vice President Harris or the second gentleman pops up somewhere to talk about all the good she and he are doing.
Yet each of these elements—the president, his staff, his spokesperson, his vice president, his policy—comes across as disconnected, discombobulated, as if each inhabits a separate sphere of activity. Whether because of Biden’s age, or his weekend trips to Delaware, or years of remote work, or lower-level staff turnover, or a painstakingly slow decision-making process, or ideological stubbornness, or a lack of a strategic plan, this administration drifts from crisis to crisis, and from one bad headline to the next. And nothing improves.
The radical left has just about given up on Biden. They’ve stood by while Biden has, they feel, “wasted” his Democratic majority in Congress and has not flexed his presidential muscles to effect the radical changes they want. They actually believe Biden could forgive $1 trillion in student loan debt with the stroke of a pen or enact sweeping and extraordinary changes in energy policy to get their pet climate projects into law.
They don’t care about inflation. They don’t care about the national debt or the budget deficit. This is their moment, they feel. And Biden is blowing it.
Biden, as long-time political commentator Ron Brownstein notes, is an institutionalist. He won’t attack the Senate with a wrecking ball because he sees the filibuster as an institutional safeguard against an out-of-control majority. He won’t wreck the presidency by issuing executive orders that would make the president king and congress irrelevant.
Biden came of age at a time when America’s institutions were unquestioned. That’s not true today. Both the far right and the far left are attacking America’s foundations of stability and ripping and tearing at the fabric of society.
Perhaps a younger, more moderate Joe Biden might have had more success. But truly, with the pandemic, the Russians, and America ripping itself apart, it’s doubtful any politician could have succeeded.