Well, it’s amazing what a concession speech can do to get everyone’s minds focused in Washington. We postponed our normal Friday edition while we watched the House burn the midnight oil, so we’re coming to you on a Saturday with our latest take. It’s getting interesting…
(cover photo cred: Joshua Roberts / Getty Images News)
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Nothing Focuses the Mind Like a Concession Speech
It’s Back to the Future, Gibbsie! As readers of this great and crusading newsletter know (sorry watched the Front Page recently; I’ve been on a Walter Matthau kick), I’ve been honking on for some time about how the Dems should take the easy and important win…
and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIP) in the House and then get on to the tricky sausage grinding of spending like drunken sailors. But alas, I was ignored yet again! As we’ve gone over a thousand times, the Dem Progressives (particularly in the House where they’re about as rare as crabgrass) do not trust the POTUS of their own party or the Senate controlled by their own party so they revered to the old four year trick of breath holding and resolute stubbornness. Cut to the President’s plummeting poll numbers and a Democratic wipe out at the polls on Tuesday. So now, having turned blue, the Progs are breathing again and were appropriately frog-marched last night by Leader Pelosi and a hard-working squad of White House telephone operators into finally passing the BIP; something they should of done weeks and weeks ago when it could have been a huge win. Anyway, better late than never. It’s a good bill for the country and for Biden. Now the real fun starts because – exhausted with the endless bickering over President Biden’s $3.5, no 1.5, no 1.75, no 1.85 Trillion spending bill – Speaker Pelosi had a true moment of clarity… “Why is Sen Manchin my F@3cking problem! He’s a Senator! Let Schumer deal with him!” and promptly punted the domestic spending bill back to the Senate. Crafty. But it just moves the brawl to a new arena where it’ll rage on. Still, I think it was the only move she had to make and I so smell the beginning of the badly needed Biden reset in the air. We’ll call it Operation Uncle Phoenix!
Let’s just focus on the progress that happened last night, though I agree Tuesday night had an impact. The President won a big victory last night by getting the infrastructure legislation to his desk for signature in to law. As Biden might say, “a big fucking deal!” And let’s not lose sight of all the great stuff in there from roads and bridges, to broadband funding to creating an infrastructure for electric cars. This is big. And here’s the kicker…it wouldn’t have happened without Republicans in the House! The President will rightly take a victory lap on this one! But, let’s not lose sight of the other less covered piece of news: the House voted to set up debate on the larger Build Back Better plan and moderates agreed when they get a budget scoring back soon, they’ll support the legislation. It’s not getting the headlines this morning but another very big deal. A lot transpired to get to this point, including a lot of House Members figuring out how to let steam out of the mistrust valve to get to this point. The one complicating thing is this procedure, while necessary to get the Build Back Better plan moving forward, is going to make this process take longer in the end. The original theory was to get one legislative vehicle that everyone agreed on (House and Senate) so they could each pass it and have it go to the President. It’s why these negotiations dragged out. Now, the House is going to move something, but it's very clear that there are certain parts of that bill that are definitely not going to survive the Senate, which means this is all going to come back to the House at some point, probably in December (which is looming as a VERY busy month filled with a lot of must pass legislation). But I think the larger thing is the process churns forward, most of the Progressives got on board with the strategy and the President has a big, big win at a moment where he truly needed it.
Yeah, the Progs must have finally realized it was bad when even the New York Times has appropriately in my view, joined the bedwetting chorus with a tough editorial about the Democrats needing to wake up and become more practical. It seems to me like the Progressives are under attack from all corners; the voters at the polls, James Carville whenever a mic is on, and now even the editorial board of the New York Times. High time I say! How much damage are the Democrats going to let these dense-headed comrades inflict on their party? They've done more to hurt Biden to date than the entire RNC political operation.
The editorial was interesting. I agree with parts of it talking about Dems not being focused enough on some of the immediate economic challenges people are facing and campaigns that are more focused on Trump as a boogyman rather than enunciating a clear, optimistic, forward-looking governing agenda. As we have seen, the process has gotten in the way of the substance. The Times is wrong on the substance of the Build Back Better plan. What’s even more popular is asking the very wealthy to pay for it. So, if I was Joe Biden I’d pay as much attention to the New York Times editorial board now as I did during the campaign. The best thing that happened to Joe Biden in the New York Times editorial board process when he was running for president, was the endorsement of the security guard, Jacquelyn, who took him up in the elevator, which, by the way, got more publicity than the newspaper that endorsed, let's not forget it, not one, but two candidates to be President of the United States.
Well, I normally disagree, but I agree on this one. And I am amused for the first probably last time in human history, my friend Robert Z. Gibbs sounds exactly like Mitch McConnell. I'm hoping to see more of that spirit going forward.
The one thing Democrats really have to understand is after Tuesday, everybody's in the same boat. People are not going to be able to steer around the hurricane of a dour national political environment, particularly in the House. So, it's time to start rowing together. They have to realize that and realize it quickly.
Great interview by Politico of Jeff Roe and Kristin Davison, who ran a very strong campaign for Glenn Youngkin (with a mighty assist from the Democratic woke squad). Very much worth reading if you want to see an astute analysis of how the Youngkin team saw the race.
Yeah, Democrats should pay particular attention to what they say about education because they outline the fact that the Youngkin campaign was deeply surprised that McAuliffe, who has a good record on this as governor, never got to this issue in a significant enough way. The Youngkin camp was concerned the entire time that Democrats would take this issue off the table. Let me just say if we're going to have robust campaigns in this country and they're going to center on education, Democrats should jump in feet first and be excited about that. We used to kick Republicans’ asses on education and there's absolutely no reason we can't do it again.
Reading Roe’s comments brought a smile to my face because when we planned Jeb Bush's gubernatorial comeback race in 1998, (after he had lost in 1994), early on we decided we had a candidate with a unique passion for education and the policy to do something about it. It was a huge issue to Florida voters and traditionally, as Robert says, a Democratic issue. But we decided if we could win education, we would win the race because we would naturally as late 90’s Republican reform conservatives do well on crime and the economy. So with enthusiastic support from Jeb, we put our shoulder into education, went on offense, and won the race. Republicans who run as education reformers and play good offense on the Democratic backfield – if they have the ideas and the candidate to back it up – can do really, really well and Youngkin reminded everybody of that lesson. The other point that I thought was valuable was Roe and Davison’s framing of the race of who the revolutionaries are and how suburban voters are never looking for a revolution.
My other tidbit: it hasn't been a great three months in the White House as anyone can tell, but the jobs report was a good one. A huge chunk of the new jobs came in leisure and hospitality, which means businesses and consumers are understanding that we are likely on the backside of the Delta variant wave, which is great news for public health and the economy. Also, the sneaky thing that the Bureau of Labor Statistics always does, at the very end of their long release is mention the revisions in job gains from previous months. Readers might remember that a month ago the world was falling because the jobs number was less than 200,000. They added nearly a quarter of a million jobs that were created in the two previous months that they just “found.” The jobs report always comes with an interesting margin of error, as we talk about whether pollsters get political elections right. This won’t solve everything for Dems by a long shot. People process their economic situation for themselves, not using a monthly jobs report. Inflationary prices are hurting folks. Gas prices are too high. Supply chains are a mess.
Also, Pfizer's announcement yesterday about the effectiveness of their COVID pill in a potential gamechanger. Coupled with the news from the CDC that 80% of all adults have received at least one COVID shot and 70% are fully vaccinated (yes, mandates work), its possible there is real light at the end of our long, dark pandemic tunnel. You can certainly imagine a political environment led by a pandemic that's under real control and an economy that's humming and people feeling better about the direction of the country being the backdrop for Election Day 2022, which would certainly help the national political environment for the Democratic Party. It doesn't mean it's necessarily going to happen. But I would just underscore the real key for Democrats is making sure that what happened Tuesday doesn’t have to be the environment under which the game is played in November of 2022.
A couple final weekend tidbits. I’ve been going on as usual about the Democratic parties’ dive into woke grievance politics and what a campaign dud it has proved to be. Here’s a great op-ed from the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus on the latest madness from the Yale Law School. Worth a read. (Hint: she had me on sentence one with “Maoist reeducation camps.”)
Tidbit two: Country First! Here are the 13 House GOP Members who voted for the BIP. Shame it isn’t more.
Meanwhile, six Democratic Uber-Progs voted against Biden’s BIP, joining Kevin McCarthy and the bulk of the Republicans. Curious who the Useful Idiots (as Lenin once said) might be? It’s not hard to guess. The Squad, with A.O.C. and Tlaib in the despicable lead:
Next week, we'll be back as Chuck Schumer inherits the Manchin wrestling problem being sent over with a nice pretty bow this week by Nancy Pelosi. Hopefully Senator Schumer can get some rest this weekend!
Murphy and Gibbs