Less Biden just fine with Dems
For American voters, the less they see of Joe Biden, the more they like him.
The Democrats’ nominee spent much of the 2020 presidential race in his Delaware basement and still was elected. A similar phenomenon seems to be unfolding now.
With inflation soaring and his administration proving to be the gang that can’t shoot straight, the president came down with COVID on July 21 and was isolated. He appeared in public briefly after negative tests the next week, then had a relapse and has been isolated in the White House ever since.
Nonetheless, he is enjoying one of the most successful stretches of his presidency. Go figure.
Friday’s monster jobs report — the economy added 528,000 positions in July — came on the heels of two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia (near right) and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (far right), suddenly agreeing to back a revised version of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Never mind that it will not reduce inflation or that it is merely a repackaged, slimmed-down version of the Bernie Sanders-inspired Build Back Better bill. Or that the White House was not involved in the final negotiations.
The important thing is that Democrats united their narrow margins to get something through Congress that allows them to claim they are responding to voters’ concerns. In one of his few on-camera appearances, Biden announced that a US strike took out 9/11 plotter Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan.
String of wins
There’s more. A bipartisan consensus backed legislation to spend $280 billion to bolster semiconductor manufacturing and research to give America an edge against China.
Most important in the short term, gasoline prices have fallen nearly every day this summer. On Friday, the average national price of regular was $4.11, compared to $5.02 on June 14th, according to AAA.com.
It’s no coincidence that the polling is shifting, too. A Rasmussen survey last week found the president with a 43 percent approval rating, the highest for him since the third week of June.
Although the average of polling for the last two weeks on Real Clear Politics still has Biden underwater by 17 points, even that marks an improvement.
These developments are shaking up expectations of what will happen in the fall midterms. The long-held assumption of a red wave is growing iffy as the generic congressional ballot is now virtually even and Dems are energized by the possibility they could hold on to one or both houses and win some key state races.
In short, the fight for power has reached a surprising and intriguing inflection point. But crucial questions remain: What to do about Biden? And can Dems hide him through Election Day?
Recall that it was not so long ago that he and his aides decided the answer to his popularity woes was to get him out of Washington more, with Biden saying he realized he wasn’t elected to be the 101st senator. He vowed to hit the road and remind voters why they elected him.
On paper it was a great idea, but in reality it flopped. Inflation and crime were soaring and Biden had no answers, only excuses. Remember how he kept trying to sell the social-media ready #PutinPriceHike?
Anyone on the political staff who believed the public would fall for that scam should have been sent packing.
Worse, the suggestion that the president was out of touch with the times was reinforced by cognitive lapses and his frail, doddering appearance. He was not a good messenger for his own message that the economy was strong.
As his polling continued to crater, Biden became a political liability and Dem candidates running in close elections suddenly had “scheduling conflicts” when the president arrived on their turf. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Ohio senatorial candidate Tim Ryan were among those who avoided the president like the plague.
Now that Biden actually has something akin to the plague, he has a good excuse to hunker down in the White House and stay away from candidates in important races. But sooner or later he’ll have to re-emerge and at least appear to be leading his party into the elections.
Still, there is another wrinkle to the midterms that could be even more decisive. It’s the Donald Trump factor and it surfaces in two distinct ways.
First, Trump had big success in backing candidates in GOP primaries, but things are looking less rosy in general election races. Candidates in three key Senate races who won primaries with Trump’s endorsement are now trailing their Democratic opponents.
According to the weighted poll results compiled by FiveThirtyEight, Ryan leads J.D. Vance by four points in Ohio, John Fetterman leads Mehmet Oz by 11 points in Pennsylvania and incumbent Raphael Warnock leads Herschel Walker by three points in Georgia.
With three months to Election Day, none of those leads is insurmountable, but Trump’s role looks like a double-edged sword in these and other races.
‘Trump indict’ effect
Second, Trump’s impact could actually grow if, as seems increasingly likely, the Department of Justice moves to indict him over his role in events before and after Jan. 6. A criminal charge against a former president would be historic and, coming down the campaign stretch, would add an extra layer to the nation’s deep polarization.
The move could backfire on Dems, but because the pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict Trump is enormous, I assume Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer see a criminal charge as a way to fire up their base, or they would have stopped the televised show trial by now.
Of course, putting Trump back in the spotlight could again make Biden an afterthought. As always, the media can be counted on to play along with that game because they win double Bingo: Beating up Trump is good for business while keeping Dems in power is their purpose.
Adams vs. cowardly council
A midnight rocket from City Hall shows Mayor Adams has lost his patience with the radical City Council. It’s about time.
After voting for a city budget that included $38 billion for education that reflected $215 million in cuts based on a decline in students, some council members claimed to be shocked, shocked! by what they voted for. Adams stood his ground, parents and some council members sued, and Friday a judge shamefully ordered a do-over.
The fight and ruling didn’t sit well with Adams. The council “refuses to stand by its vote and is, instead, repeatedly issuing misleading and irresponsible statements,” he said in the late-night statement. “The council knew what it was voting for and knew it was the right decision.”
The uproar shows how irresponsible pols are wedded to unsustainable spending. The mayor is standing up for sanity, but sadly, he is standing alone.
And if mooching fails, you can always get a job.