Doe Joe Biden’s political woes stem from a lack of rage? Progressives seem to think that Biden has a fevah and the only medicine is a more fevered tone from the White House. That desire for more passion has spread across the rest of the party, The Hill reports this morning, although that’s not to say that divisions aren’t arising:
Democrats say they are angry, and they want President Biden to be angry, too.
In recent weeks, they’ve watched the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade and at least one conservative justice hint that same-sex marriage and contraception could be next. Then they saw the high court restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to effectively tackle climate change. …
Oliver’s anger, to a certain degree, reflects the sentiment among Democrats that Biden hasn’t come close to reflecting their exasperation and rage with his public comments on guns or abortion.
And it all comes at a difficult time for the White House, with The New York Times releasing a poll on Monday that found a stunning 64 percent of Democrats do not want Biden to be their party’s presidential nominee in 2024. It’s a difficult climate, to say the least, for Biden’s party ahead of the midterm elections in November.
“Persistent disappointment with Biden is rooted in his lack of channeling the intensity of what so, so many are feeling,” said Democratic consultant Tracy Sefl. “Critics want him to be who he’s not. And then, realizing who he’s not, [that] leads to deep frustration and further outrage.”
Joe Biden has no problem being angry. Angry Biden shows up all the time; in speech after speech, Biden goes from meandering to angry to Creepy Whisper, and then cycles back through them all. Joe Biden has a competency problem, not an emoting problem, and that’s what has progressive activists the most peeved. On both gun control and abortion, Biden and his team got caught flat-footed even after months of signals and multiple opportunities to do something, anything that might appeal to the progressive base.
On Friday, amid mounting pressure to do something—anything, really—to respond in some material way to the threats to reproductive rights spurred by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last month, President Joe Biden signed an executive action relating to contraceptive access and interstate travel. The president’s orders effectively act as bulwarks against potential laws that are likely to be passed in some states controlled by Republicans: One was aimed at efforts to restrict access to federally approved abortion medication, the second responded to the threat of Republican attempts to make traveling across state lines to receive an abortion illegal. Still, the most notable thing about these executive orders was that they were so late in arriving.
Samuel Alito’s draft decision overturning Roe leaked on May 3; it was widely known that when the decision became official, numerous “trigger laws” further limiting reproductive rights would snap into place all across the country and that Republican legislatures would get to work—on not just the next wave of abortion restrictions but the next fronts in the culture war. The White House—and, for that matter, senior Democratic leadership—has had two months to prepare for events that became inevitable the moment Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court in the fall of 2020. Charitably, the response from Biden and other senior White House figures has been passive at best. …
In a year of crises—Roe, Ukraine, inflation—Biden has been notably tucked away, his major communications coming in newspaper op-eds (another, Monday morning, detailed his goals for a diplomatic trip to the Middle East). With Roe, the situation is particularly galling, given the long lead time the administration was given. That Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, has recently emerged as the administration’s most effective spokesperson on a range of issues, is itself a damning indictment of the administration’s messaging. (Fox News keeps booking Buttigieg for appearances seemingly out of the desire to spar with someone with a pulse.)
Shephard misses a couple of other Biden absences from crises that makes this question more acute. No one at the White House bothered to address supply-chain issues until the media finally forced a response in the late fall. Biden refused to even acknowledge above-target inflation for months, then called it “transitory,” and then led a series of blameshifting message campaigns that tried to absolve Biden from doing anything effective to counter it — especially on energy policy. The New York Times started reporting on infant-formula shortages in October and the industry warned the FDA in January that a shutdown of the Abbott production facility would make it worse — and yet Biden said he wasn’t aware of it until April. His first action on the acute health crisis of malnutrition for infants was to set up a website in mid-May that didn’t do anything except refer people to toll-free customer service reps that confirmed that the companies didn’t have any stock.
All this time, however, Biden has had no problem shaking his fist at “corporate greed,” Republicans, “ultra MAGA” voters, Donald Trump, gas station owners, and so on. Biden shows up to do that much … but not much else, and now it’s not just Republicans and independents noticing.
At any rate, this isn’t the dumbest advice coming from progressives this week. Here’s Nina Turner arguing that Democrats’ polling woes are because the “neo-liberal” wing of the Democratic Party has lost touch with the always-Emerging Progressive Majority. You might recall Turner, whose finger was so reliably on the pulse of the electorate that she lost her second successive Democratic primary in Cleveland … this time by more than 30 points. We can only hope that Biden hires her as his new political strategist.
.@ninaturner: “There’s something wrong with the neo-liberal branch of the Democratic Party. […] Survey after survey shows that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is more in line with what the American people want in general.” https://t.co/57Gq2IGrku pic.twitter.com/eko4eFkM1H
— The Hill (@thehill) July 12, 2022