by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden, who campaigned on lowering the temperature after former President Donald Trump, seems resigned to the inevitability of political incivility now that he is in the White House.
Biden’s lackadaisical response to activist harassment of members of his own party raises fresh questions about how committed he is to changing the tone in Washington.
Biden chided protesters this week who kayaked up to West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s Potomac River-moored houseboat and male and female activists who filmed Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in a bathroom at Arizona State University, where she guest lectures. The president said their invasive strategies against his own party members, who are pivotal votes delaying his $3.5 trillion social welfare and climate spending package, were not “appropriate” but that similar intrusions happen “to everybody.”
“The only people it doesn’t happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around them,” he told reporters Monday. “It’s part of the process.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden’s “process” comments hours later. Psaki underscored the president’s support of “the freedom to protest, to speak out, and to criticize” as “fundamental to our democracy.” But while she repeated that the Sinema incident on Sunday in particular was “inappropriate and unacceptable,” her condemnation was limited. …
… But neither Biden nor Psaki deterred demonstrators from badgering Sinema on her flight back to Washington or at Reagan National Airport on Monday — three years after notorious confrontations during the Trump administration occurred, such as then-press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being kicked out of a Lexington, Virginia, restaurant and former Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, being cornered in a congressional elevator over now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.