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Destroying Biden

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Not a moment passes since President Biden took office that somebody, somewhere isn’t making a doomsday prediction that Biden will fail. There are endless stories about how the Democrats are in trouble and will lose big in the 2022 midterms. Biden’s approval ratings are endlessly cited as proof of this supposed pending political Armageddon.

This is the same sorry template the GOP and conservative media used during the Obama presidency, to create a strawman argument that Obama’s policies were a failure, that he could get few if any political initiatives through, and those he did get through, such as the Affordable Care Act, were bad.

It’s the same game plan with Biden: Play up big every supposed Biden misstep, gaffe or policy fumble. At the midwinter meeting of the Democratic National Committee meeting in Washington, D.C. in March, Biden sounded the alarm. He warned Democrats to get doubly busy and get a massive Democratic voter turnout in November. The loss of the House or the Senate or both would be catastrophic. It would guarantee that Biden’s remaining two years of his first term would be neutered by the GOP.

McConnell and nearly all the GOP senators gave a preview of the hardball game they’ll play with Biden after his nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson for the SCOTUS. The near-universal consensus was that she was one of the most eminently qualified jurists to come down the pike in years. Her confirmation as the first Black woman on the high court would not just be a historic first, but also a neat, and fitting testament to the nation’s diversity and commitment to racial equity.

McConnell and nearly all the GOP senators had other ideas. They hectored and impugned Jackson with nonsensical and plain silly question and assertions at her committee hearings. Then, with three exceptions, voted against her confirmation. One of those three, Mitt Romney, refused to even give polite applause when her confirmation was approved.

McConnell and the GOP will mount a relentless, ruthless campaign of hectoring, harassing, dithering and obstructing many of Biden’s major initiatives. McConnell will continue to have an almost totally united GOP behind him. He’s armed with total mastery of all the parliamentary and legislative tricks of the Senate trade to stonewall Biden and will have plenty of opportunities to use all of them.

Biden still faces the COVID-battered economy and worries about a still-dangerous public health crisis, soaring gas prices, and a dangerous, unpredictable Russian war against Ukraine.

Biden has scored some notable wins; He got a bipartisan agreement on a stimulus deal. He got his massive infrastructure bill through.

However, Biden will almost certainly be thrust into the brewing battle over the pending SCOTUS case on Roe v. Wade. This has ignited a public firestorm on both sides of the battle lines, and Biden will be tugged hard to act. The question then becomes just what action to take.

McConnell and the GOP, fortunately, can’t do to Biden what they did to Obama — hamstringing him on confirmation of his nominations and appointments to federal courts and administration posts. But that’s only because the confirmation process is by a simple majority, and Democrats still hold that razor-thin Senate majority.

Yet there’s an array of housing, education, foreign policy, and spending decisions that are on the table. Biden will be forced to sign a rash of executive orders on education reforms and enhanced environmental and consumer financial protections. These were reforms Obama penned by executive order and Trump moved quickly to try and wipe them out. When Biden uses his executive pen, he will evoke the same howls Obama got from McConnell and the GOP that he is abusing the power of his office by usurping Congress.

As for criminal justice reform and voting rights protections, Biden is walking a continuous tightrope. He’s being pushed hard by Black Lives Matter, criminal justice reform advocates and civil rights groups to make good on promises for reforms in policing. This stirs fierce backlash from police unions and conservatives. He’s backed far away from any advocacy of defunding the police.

It’s not a pretty picture for Biden, and it’s made even uglier by the GOP and the conservative media. Biden is a skilled and seasoned politician, though. It will take all his skills and the firm backing of the Democratic party to keep the GOP from destroying him.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.