Come On, Man
Joe Biden is not up to the task at hand
During the 2020 Democratic primary, Joe Biden told voters that as president, he’d get Republicans in line.
A year-and-a-half out from his inauguration, it’s clear that hasn’t happened. He’s not up to the challenge.
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Biden’s inability or unwillingness for the first 18 months of his presidency to fight the Republican Party on issues that affect the most vulnerable Americans has emboldened the GOP after what should have been a crushing defeat and repudiation in the last election.
And now, with the Supreme Court’s striking down of the federal right to abortion last month, the failures of the Biden presidency are becoming hard to ignore for all but the most blinkered Democratic Party partisans.
“At this point, Joe Biden's refusal to do anything about abortion rights—from refusing to revoke the Hyde Amendment to passivity about Dobbs to electing this fascist judge—should be understood to mean that Joe Biden does not support abortion rights,” journalist Heidi Moore tweeted.
Yet despite the real and urgent need for action, the administration has repeatedly poured cold water on administrative fixes, brief or otherwise, for the current state of abortion rights in the US. Expanding the Supreme Court? Not on the table. Offering abortions on federal lands? Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, speaking for the Biden administration, made clear that doing something like that might be disrespecting the Court.
And last week, the Courier-Journal revealed that Biden is trading a lifetime appointment of a pro-forced birth judge in Kentucky in exchange for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell allowing for the appointment of two federal prosecutors in the state—who will be replaced at the end of Biden’s term.
It’s just the latest added insult to injury to the party base at a time of crisis, and Biden and his people have little more to offer than pleas to vote in November and for donations.
To be sure, the strategy has had some success. The party raised over $80 million since the Roe decision, according to ActBlue, and polling has jumped them back into the race for the midterms. It may well pay off in November; the party has an outside chance now to hold both chambers of Congress.
But even that outcome—which, while better than the GOP returning to power in either the House or the Senate, or both, doesn’t assure the codification of the right to an abortion—shows the limitations of the Biden approach. For people suffering right now in states that have banned or otherwise curtailed the right to abortion, elections four months away are little consolation for their very real need for reproductive healthcare today. And that’s to say nothing of the glacial pace at which any possible legislation would move and the political considerations and landscape by January 2023, when any new Congress would be seated.
Biden has made it perfectly clear, again and again, that he’s not up to taking big action on equally big challenges. The only question now is how to manage expectations around that disappointment.
For more on Roe, check out the podcast. I did a quick reaction episode the day of the decision where I took calls from the audience; you can find that here.
Then, on June 28, I discussed the ramifications of the decision with newly-minted Rolling Stone reporter and frequent guest Nikki McCann Ramirez. Listen at the link.
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