by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Over at Politico, Christopher Cadelago and Marianne Levine offer the latest excuse for Joe Biden going quiet in public, in this case on the reconciliation-bill fight on Capitol Hill: He’s busy playing the inside game!
“As Democrats on Capitol Hill brace in anticipation of a brutal midterm, Biden is spending an extraordinary amount of time and political capital behind the scenes to convince them to rally around a common framework for social and climate spending. His congressional huddles have accelerated, from phone calls on the White House veranda to one-on-one and group meetings — including two high-stakes Tuesday sit downs with moderates and progressives.” …
… Note, just as an aside, how “a brutal midterm” for congressional Democrats is already a baseline expectation the authors don’t need to explain or justify. Why is the White House at pains to stress how much Biden is doing privately? Because he’s not out there convincing the voters to put pressure on Congress:
“As Biden has worked on lawmakers in private — sometimes not putting a hard stop on his schedule so as not to stifle progress — he’s largely, though not entirely, resisted riskier public pressure campaigns that could backfire and are viewed as against his nature. Often, Biden has had just a single public event each day.” …
… This is, I suppose, the spin you need to cover over the problem: Public arguments by this president don’t help. They persuade nobody of anything. The bully pulpit has been reduced to a walker. Nine months into his tenure, Biden is already a spent force that nobody listens to. In terms of his influence, he went directly from honeymoon to lame duck. It is still likely that the Democrats will pass something this year — and whatever they pass, Biden will sign, and everybody knows it, so his actual leverage is zero.