[guest post by JVW]
Don’t believe it? Yeah, neither really do I. But I am always up for giving due consideration to a writer who puts forward an interesting premise and then does a reasonably solid job of defending it. Writing in The Spectator, John R. MacArthur informs us that, as the title of his piece has it, Joe Biden Is Winning:
The president is a man of limited abilities, especially when it comes to stringing together coherent sentences. But he is nothing if not spectacularly persistent in the one cause that has animated his entire career: maintaining in the Democratic Party a rigid hierarchy with control emanating from the top, never from the hoi polloi and never from rebellious reformers like Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In Biden’s catechism, rewards and punishment must result from loyalty, irrespective of electoral success. A man of little principle – and no ideology – Biden is the most regular of regular Democrats, a hack politician whose positions on the important issues of the day may gravitate toward the center, but never deviate from his party’s leadership or the Washington “consensus.”
[. . .]
And yet Biden’s disillusioned critics insist that he’s become either a raving lunatic or a hostage to the left. Also that he’s been foiled in his “progressive” push by the intraparty opposition of Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. This is absurd. All the evidence suggests that Biden was in on the foiling from the beginning — that he cleverly lured Sanders, the incoming chairman of the Senate budget committee, into believing he would forcefully support what was, in fact, the Sanders Build Back Better bill. Sanders campaigned hard for Biden because of what he claimed was Trump’s overwhelming threat to democracy, so perhaps he thought the president was indebted to him.
[. . .]
Once in power, the new president got busy doing what he does best – not promoting leftist visions of social and economic justice but dispensing patronage. Quickly jettisoned from the Covid relief bill was the Biden campaign pledge pushed by Sanders, to raise, in stages, the minimum wage to $15 an hour, allegedly because the Senate parliamentarian said it violated Senate rules to include it in a reconciliation bill. No protest from Biden over this technicality, but silent approval from Manchin and Sinema (who thought $15 was too much) and vocal praise from Republicans. Once the relief bill passed, with tiny majorities in the House and Senate powered by unanimous Democrats, whom did Biden reward? Certainly not Sanders. On March 26, Biden nominated Manchin’s wife, Gayle, as co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal agency and a perfect conduit to West Virginia, among thirteen states, through which to funnel pork barrel money from the proposed infrastructure bill.
There’s more, so take the time to read the whole thing (I don’t think this article requires a subscription; apologies if it does). Three-and-a-half decades ago, Saturday Night Life had a (yes, this will be hard to believe) funny send-up of the Reagan Administration, with a President who all hip liberals knew for certain was a doddering old man turning out to be a calculating mastermind hiding behind a facade of genial befuddlement. Ironically enough, one of Ronald Reagan’s strengths ended up being to trick smug elitists into thinking him dull-witted and highly manipulatable during his Presidency, while the record over the past three decades has demonstrated a far more engaged and ideologically-focused chief executive. Will we be saying the same about Joe Biden in 2050? Again, I sort of doubt it, but it’s food for thought.