Friday, Jun 21, 2024

Biden Failures Lead to Democrat Despair

The shocking incompetence of President Joe Biden, which has become painfully obvious since he botched the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan this summer, has disappointed the swing voters who enabled Biden to beat Donald Trump last November. It has also created a growing sense of panic among moderate Democrat incumbents representing swing districts, who fear that Biden’s failures inevitably will lead to their defeat in next year’s midterm election.

The dramatic decline in Biden’s popularity and increasingly negative voter assessments of his competence and trustworthiness has emerged from many public opinion polls taken since mid-summer. What has changed in recent weeks is the frank public admissions by many of Biden’s former supporters and leading Democrat pollsters and strategists that his presidency is in trouble.

However, Biden and his spokespeople remain in steadfast denial that he has lost the trust and confidence of the American people, or that his domestic and foreign policy failures require his administration to make a major policy course correction before it is too late. One might expect a president like Biden, who has lost much of his broad base of voter support, to adopt a more moderate approach, but he shows no public signs of being willing to do so.


It still might not be too late for Biden to seek compromises with the old friends across the aisle he made during his decades in Congress. Such an outreach could enable Biden to put together a bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate behind his main policy objectives, albeit in reduced form. That could give Biden and his fellow Democrats real accomplishments upon which to campaign ahead of next year’s midterm election.

Earlier this summer, Biden was successful in fashioning just such a compromise on a long-needed infrastructure spending bill with Senate Republicans. However, Biden abandoned that bill when he agreed to progressive demands that its passage be held hostage to simultaneous passage of Biden’s more controversial $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” spending proposal.

The recent collapse of Biden’s public support has significantly strengthened the bargaining position of two relatively moderate Democrat senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. It has enabled Manchin and Sinema to stand by their previously announced objections to both the very high cost and some of the more radical social welfare policies in Biden’s $3.5 trillion original proposal.


Biden had an opportunity in late September to pressure the progressives into dropping their insistence on linking the passage of the two bills. That would have given Biden and his fellow Democrats both immediate and longer-term benefits from quick passage of a measure with broad popular support. It would also have proven to Biden’s friends and enemies that he was still capable of getting Congress to function as it was originally intended to — through bipartisan negotiation and compromise.

But Biden declined that opportunity, betraying the trust of the remnants of the moderate wing of the Democrat party which had supported his presidential nomination last year, in favor of the progressives, led by Senator Bernie Sanders and AOC’s squad in the House, who had led the opposition to Biden’s candidacy.

Soon after Biden secured the 2020 Democrat nomination, he made a deal with Sanders and AOC for the support of the progressives which he needed to defeat Donald Trump in the November election. The price of that support was Biden’s willingness to quietly distance himself from the more mainstream liberal policy proposals upon which he had campaigned in the early primaries, and his promise to give the progressives a major voice in formulating his administration’s policies.

Such deals with former opponents are common in the presidential nomination politics of both major political parties, being necessary to reunify them going into the general election campaign. But in most cases, the concessions to former opponents and their supporters are generally limited to specific policy concessions in the party platform, or the promise of a few choice cabinet appointments after the new president takes office.

There was little indication to those outside the Democrat national party leadership that Biden, as president, would abandon the relatively moderate positions with which he had been associated throughout his long career in Washington. In fact, Biden had given the progressives virtual carte blanche over his administration’s economic, climate change, and social welfare policies.

This only became fully apparent last month, during the political showdown between House moderates and progressives over immediate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been trying for weeks to find a mutually acceptable compromise between the two Democrat factions without success, and was under increasing pressure from the moderates to fulfill her promise to call a House vote on passing the infrastructure bill by September 27.


Four days after that deadline passed without the vote being taken, the White House suddenly announced that Biden was coming to Capitol Hill to meet with House Democrats. The moderates and most of the mainstream media assumed that Biden was going to announce that he had negotiated a deal with the progressives to enable the infrastructure bill to be voted upon, passed, and then signed into law immediately, since the Senate had already approved an identical version of the bipartisan bill.

Almost everyone outside the White House inner circle was then surprised to learn that Biden had sold out the moderates and kept his promise to the progressives, forcing an indefinite delay in the passage of the infrastructure bill while coming no closer to removing the obstacles to passage of the second bill by the Senate due to the demands of Senators Manchin and Sinema.

Meanwhile, Biden’s job approval ratings continued to sink at an alarming rate. After Democrat political strategists digested the broader polling results, showing that the opposition of independent voters to Biden’s policies was growing across the board, they became even more alarmed over the diminishing chances that his numbers would recover in time for the Democrats to survive the November 2022 midterms with relatively minor losses.

During his visit to Capitol Hill, Biden also delivered a disturbing message for the progressives. While he would not allow the infrastructure bill to become law without the Build Back Better proposal, Biden told the progressives they would have to find a way to scale back its $3.5 trillion price tag to a figure closer to the $1.5 trillion cap that Manchin said was the maximum for which he would be willing to cast his crucial 50th Senate vote.


But Bernie Sanders, who had written the original proposal as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and some of his fellow progressives, remained unwilling to cut the $3.5 trillion figure, while other House and Senate Democrats each seemed to have their own ideas about which welfare measures to cut from Biden’s Build Back Better bill to gain Manchin’s winning vote.

The debate intensified further last week, after Joe Manchin announced another requirement to gain his vote for the Build Back Better proposal. He demanded the removal of a clean energy initiative in the original proposal which, if allowed to remain, would have damaged the coal mining interests still crucial to the economy of his state of West Virginia.

The resulting confusion and growing acrimony among the Democrats further added to the public’s impression that President Biden was no longer able to govern, because the slim working majorities Democrats hold in the House and the 50-50 Senate are no longer unified.


Biden also did himself no favors with voters by publicly claiming three weeks ago that his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan would actually cost Americans “zero dollars” because all the new spending it calls for would allegedly be covered by increases in taxes falling exclusively upon the wealthy.

That statement, which the White House has since refused to walk back, is problematic on a number of levels. First, on a literal level, it implies that anyone wealthy enough to be subject to the new taxes no longer qualifies, in Biden’s view, as an American.

Second, independent financial experts agree that the original $3.5 trillion cost of the measure would not be fully paid for by the tax proposals in the measure. They also predict that the actual cost of the original measure, if all its provisions were to remain in place over the next decade, would be $5.5 trillion, almost double the advertised estimate, and that it would ultimately increase the national debt by $2.9 trillion.

Finally, Biden insists, contrary to all accepted economic logic, that dumping so much additional money into an already overheating American economy would reduce inflation. The consensus view, voiced in a warning from liberal economist Larry Summers, is that such spending would stimulate further increases in prices across the board.


According to a poll taken during the second week of October for the Winston Group of Republican advisors, the public is largely skeptical about Biden’s claim as well. When asked, “Do you believe or not believe the following statement: The Build Back Better Plan costs zero dollars,” 62% of those surveyed said they didn’t believe Biden’s assertion, compared to 21% who said they did. Among self-identified independent voters, 70% said they were dubious of Biden’s claim, while only 9% said they believed it.

The overwhelming support from independent voters was critical to Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump last November. Now many of those independent voters have been disillusioned by Biden’s dismal performance as president, and alienated by his lack of candor. Biden’s claim that the benefits from his Build Back Better plan would be delivered at a “zero dollar” cost were also disbelieved by members of two other key voter groups for Biden and the Democrats — women, by 61%, and Hispanics, by 60%.

Conservative economic commentator Andy Puzder wrote for Fox Business News that the “fundamental changes in our economy” that Biden is proposing threaten “to drive us over an economic cliff.”

Puzder adds that “it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to recognize that. . . an increased tax burden coupled with an artificial spike in demand from a glut of new government spending is exactly the sort of thing that could turn inflation into more serious stagflation that would hobble our entire economy.”

Many economists fear that Biden’s demand that both government and private employers impose a vaccine mandate, enforceable by law, on their workers, could lead to further disruptions due to labor shortages in the various sectors of the economy. This is especially true for nursing homes and health care institutions — especially in rural areas — as well schools, law enforcement agencies, and airline operations, which were already short-staffed before Biden issued his vaccine mandate.

Wall Street observers also had scorn for a “tone-deaf” comment by Biden’s White House chief of staff, Ron Klein, who dismissed spiking inflation and supply chain bottlenecks as “high class problems” which should not be a source of serious public concern.


But the prize for the most unbelievable statement issuing from the administration these days still goes to Joe Biden. Past presidents have been criticized for living entirely within a White House “bubble.” Biden’s carefully scripted public comments about his two current spending bills also sound as if they emerged from just such a “bubble” — divorced, in this case, from the harsh political realities on Capitol Hill.

“I’ve never been more optimistic about this country than I am right now,” the president said. “We are going to pass both the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and the Build Back Better Agenda, and start building this economy to beat the competition and deliver for working families.”

There is also no room within the political bubble where national Democrat leaders live for any hint of self-criticism or expressions of doubt. For example, when Speaker Pelosi was asked at her weekly press conference by a reporter whether Democrats need to do a better job in selling Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill to the public, she answered, “Well, I think you all [meaning the Washington press corps] could do a better job of selling it, to be very frank with you.” Pelosi was saying that if the Democrat message fails to resonate with the public, it must be the fault of those delivering that message, rather than a problem with the message itself.

Biden and his fellow Democrats see no reason to change course or review their policy assumptions just because most of the American people now reject them. The real question is why Democrats remain so determined to continue along their losing political path, when their own pollsters are now telling them that they are on course to electoral disaster, not only in next year’s midterm election, but also in the presidential election of 2024 and for the foreseeable future.


Veteran political reporter Ronald Brownstein, writing in The Atlantic, reminds Democrats that their newly elected presidents who had been most successful in passing their ambitious legislative agendas caused the party to pay a heavy price for those successes in the midterm elections that followed. Soon after Lyndon Johnson took office as a result of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, he passed several pieces of his landmark Great Society legislative during the 1965-66 Congressional session, including the bills that created Medicare and Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act.

Yet in the midterm election of 1966, Democrats lost 47 seats in the House and three seats in the Senate. In the 1994 midterm election, Bill Clinton’s Democrat party lost 54 seats in the House, despite his success in passing an anti-crime bill and gun control legislation. Similarly, in 2010, after Democrats pushed through the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, the voters punished them for that success by ousting their candidates from 63 House seats in that year’s midterm election.

The lesson to be learned from this, Brownstein concludes, is that, “Failing to pass their agenda could compound the Democrats’ problems by disillusioning their base and sending a message of dysfunction to swing voters. But completing the agenda isn’t likely to save them from the president’s party’s usual midterm losses.”

But whoever is responsible for the political advice that Biden and Democrat congressional leaders are following obviously disagrees. They have been telling Democrats in Congress that if they can somehow pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and Biden’s Build Back Better proposal, they will be able to run successfully in the midterm election on the infrastructure relief bill’s support for job creation, and the expanded child care tax credits and increased subsidies for Obamacare premiums contained in the $3.5 trillion package. However, the long history of big Democrat defeats in midterms immediately after their most important legislative successes does not support that optimistic expectation.


Joe Biden is now only nine months into his first term, yet he has already earned the dubious distinction of becoming the most unpopular and disappointing Democrat president since Jimmy Carter.

Biden and Carter came to the White House from opposite political backgrounds. While Jimmy Carter won the White House in 1976 running as an anti-Washington candidate still in the political wake of Richard Nixon’s resignation due to the Watergate scandal, Biden was elected based upon his reputation as the ultimate Washington insider, after having served for 36 years as a six-term US Senator from Delaware, followed by another eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president. But despite their sharply contrasting governing styles, their presidencies share many of the same policy problems and challenges.

For example, both Carter and Biden had to deal with the aftermath of a severe recession. Their liberal government spending policies touched off a sharp spike in inflation driven by rapid doubling of crude oil prices and rising consumer fears of domestic energy shortages. This ultimately led, in both cases, to a chronic form of slowdown known as stagflation, whose telltale signs have recently become unmistakable in today’s US economy.

But aside from their economic policy failures, for both presidents, their incompetence was most dramatically revealed by their policies abroad.

In Afghanistan, Biden’s botched withdrawal of US troops this summer was matched by Carter’s ineffective response to the Soviet military invasion of the country in 1979.

With respect to Iran, President Carter proved incapable of freeing 52 American diplomats and citizens held hostage in the US Embassy in Tehran for 444 days by radical student followers of Ayatollah Khomeini. In that process, Carter was further embarrassed by the disastrous outcome of a covert rescue mission staged on his orders by the US military.

Similarly, President Biden has so far failed in his determined efforts to revive and renegotiate the terms of President Obama’s flawed 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Sensing Biden’s weakness, the leaders of Iran have flouted the deal’s restrictions on its nuclear program. This has enabled Iran to reach the threshold of its long-term goal of becoming a nuclear-armed power, enabling it to blackmail the entire region and threaten Israel’s very existence.

But the most disturbing aspect of the presidencies of both Carter and Biden was their lack of confidence in the American people and the American heritage. In Carter’s case, his lack of confidence was revealed during a televised speech delivered on July 15, 1979, following a conference at the Camp David presidential retreat to discuss the nation’s problems.


Carter told the American people in the now infamous “malaise” speech that the nation was confronted with a moral and spiritual crisis. “It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt of the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of unity and purpose as a nation. The erosion of confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and political fabric of the nation. . .”

Based upon the findings of public opinion polls commissioned by the White House, Carter then said, “a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of every Western nation.”

Finally, Carter openly questioned the American people’s “faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this nation.”

To be fair to Carter, Joe Biden, as president, has not been nearly as frank with the American people as Carter was. Instead, Biden’s contempt for the voters and America’s heritage of democracy and freedom have to be inferred from his actions and policies.


From his first days in office, Biden betrayed his promise to the voters to govern in a bipartisan matter, to reach out to his Republican opponents in an effort to achieve a consensus that would heal the wounds of a bitterly divided nation. He also refused to fulfill his duty as president to enforce federal immigration laws with which he disagrees, while promoting federal government policies which encroach on the basic constitutional rights of all citizens, including denial of their freedom of expression and the freedom to practice the tenets of their religious beliefs.

Biden and the leaders of his administration also revealed their contempt for the American heritage by joining in the accusations of progressive activists that systemic white racism pervades American society and local police forces, and supporting progressive efforts to have American schoolchildren indoctrinated in the classrooms with the distorted teachings about the American history of Critical Race Theory.

Following the lead of progressive senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the Biden administration has attacked the American dream by demonizing the wealthy for their success. Even though the wealthy are already paying their fair share of federal taxes, under the banner of “economic equity,” Biden and progressive Democrats want to confiscate even more of their private wealth with punitive tax increases. Progressives will then use the added tax money to expand social welfare programs, whose true goal is to make more Americans permanently dependent on government handouts instead of their own initiative and work ethic.


If anything, Biden seems to be even more incapable of dealing with the interconnected challenges this country faces today than Carter was more than 40 years ago. As the nation tries to emerge from the pandemic under Biden’s leadership, many aspects of American life are still not working nearly as well as they once had.

Under Biden, America, long known as the land of plenty, has suddenly become the land of empty supermarket and retail store shelves. Consumers are left with the prospect of a disappointingly toyless holiday shopping season, as well long waiting lists for goods ranging from home appliances to new cars. Those who saved the generous Covid relief checks they received during the pandemic are now finding that many of the things they wanted to buy with it aren’t available.

While the supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages have been getting worse for months, the White House has only now begun to wrestle with these interconnected issues. At the same time, the mainstream media has cooperated with White House attempts to play down the fact that these problems have been aggravated by Biden’s ill-conceived and inconsistent social welfare, green energy, and anti-Covid policies.

For example, the same Biden administration which canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and stopped issuing drilling permits for fossil fuels on federal lands as soon as it took office, in the name of climate change, recently issued a plea to OPEC to increase its crude oil production. The White House has also quietly asked for help from leaders of the America’s energy industry in reaction to growing consumer anger at skyrocketing energy prices, which will become even more intense when the cold winter weather arrives.


Even though effective Covid vaccines are now widely available, and most businesses and schools have reopened, there are five million fewer workers in the American labor force today than when the lockdowns started a year and a half ago. The American economy’s recovery is being hampered because so many good-paying jobs are going begging. However, the Biden’s administration counterproductive response has been to impose nationwide vaccine mandates that prevent the millions of idled workers still unwilling to be inoculated from going back to work.

Ironically, many of the heroes during the peak of the pandemic, including the health care personnel who risked their lives daily to care for those sick with Covid, and those who kept working at their essential jobs before a vaccine was available, have become today’s villains. An impatient President Biden has ordered them to be fired en masse from their jobs in both the public sector and the private sector for refusing to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, more than a million and a half illegal immigrants, a 20-year high, were intercepted by federal officials at the border with Mexico since Biden took office. Contrary to federal law, most were allowed to enter the US and stay here indefinitely, even if they had not been vaccinated against or tested for Covid.

The Biden administration is also supporting mostly Democrat state and local officials, who are drunk with their emergency powers, when they try to force young children to wear masks in school, and adults to show vaccination certificates before entering a restaurant or a theater. At the same time, the Biden White House has condemned the Republican governors of Florida and Texas for their refusal to go along with his arbitrary Covid restriction proposals by claiming that their refusal is a threat to public health.


In the eyes of many Americans, President Biden’s credibility was completely undermined by his false messaging and reassurances during the botched withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan.

Biden’s disconnect from the grim reality unfolding on the ground in Afghanistan in front of news cameras was shocking and deeply disturbing. Many of Biden’s former apologists in the mainstream media felt forced to finally condemn his Afghan statements as false and misleading, and to label the botched execution of his withdrawal order as nothing short of a disaster for America’s international prestige. Since then, mainstream media reporting on the many failures and inconsistencies of Biden administration policy has been more accurate and inclusive than before, even though a strong liberal bias still colors the news coverage.

The media has also been paying more attention than it did before the Afghan fiasco to the current spike in inflation, as well as the interrelated policy problems which underlie the international supply chain shortages and delays.


After decades of stable consumer prices, inflation has returned with a vengeance at the checkout counter and gasoline pump. For the first time since the end of World War II, Americans seeking to buy a new car, or their first house, or even a package of paper towels or a container of their favorite brand of orange juice, are being told, “We don’t have any to sell you, and we aren’t sure when we will.”

Daily life has not yet returned to normal. Due to the shortage of workers, many businesses have been forced to reduce their normal hours of operation. Many state and local courts are still closed. Airline schedules and package deliveries have become unreliable. Rental cars are difficult to find. The list goes on.

Meanwhile, many seniors are finding that the value of the retirement savings they accumulated over a lifetime of hard work are being rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation, and poor returns on the investments in their 401-K accounts. Next year’s scheduled rise of nearly 6% in Social Security retirement payments, the largest in several decades, reflects the accelerating pace of rising prices. Even the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve have now been forced to admit that the current inflation spike is not as “transitory” a phenomenon as they recently claimed it was.

Wages are rising, but working-class families are still falling further behind, because the costs for their essentials of daily living, including food, energy and housing, are rising even faster.

All these problems, if they remain unremedied, would seem to predict a devastating defeat for Democrats — not just in the upcoming midterms, but also in subsequent national elections at least until the end of this decade.


An anonymous political analysis published on the AMAC conservative news website, under the pen name of Daniel Roman, observes that the Democrats are not acting like a party which achieved a clear victory last November. Instead, they have been acting like a party deeply disappointed by its failure to defeat Donald Trump and the Republicans far more decisively, and a party which is painfully aware that its tenuous current hold over the House and Senate is unlikely to survive past next November’s election.

Even while narrowly defeating Trump, Biden seriously underperformed expectations. In state after state, even those that Biden won, Democrat candidates running on the same ticket generally failed to gain any ground on their Republican opponents. In fact, while Biden was winning, Democrats lost 13 of their former congressional seats, reducing their current majority in the House to 222-213 — far less than the average pickup for the party out of power in a midterm election.

In addition, Democrats will have to overcome the effects of the redistricting process, adjusting congressional districts in each state to account for the results of the 2020 census. In most states, that process will be controlled by state legislatures, most of which are currently under Republican control. In those states, the new district lines drawn will favor Republican candidates, who will likely remain in place through the 2030 election.

Democrat prospects for maintaining control over the 50-50 Senate in upcoming elections are even bleaker. Roman writes that the reason why Democrats are now eager to eliminate the Senate filibuster is because they no longer think they have much chance of doing better in the Senate than maintaining the 50 votes they currently have. Without the filibuster, 50 votes plus the vice-presidential tiebreaker would be enough for Democrats to pass any legislation they want, rather than submit to the limitations imposed by the Senate’s reconciliation rules.

Some Democrat analysts see Biden’s underperformance last November as a warning that 50 votes may be the ceiling of their strength in the Senate, rather than the floor upon which to build in future elections.


In the 2022 midterms, Democrats will be defending their current Senate seats in the states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, all of which Biden won by narrow margins, and in which the Democrat incumbents are expected to face strong Republican challengers. Republicans will be defending Senate seats in two states where Biden won last year, Pennsylvania and Florida, but will have the advantage of defending their Senate seats in two other states that Trump won in 2020.

According to Roman, the fact that the thin Democrat majorities in both chambers of Congress are now on a political “death watch” has confused their current legislative priorities. The remaining Democrat moderates from competitive districts in the House have been willing to vote for the progressive legislation Speaker Pelosi has been pushing because they now believe they will lose their seats next year, no matter what they do.

But Democrat progressives such as AOC and the members of her squad come from overwhelmingly liberal urban districts, which virtually guarantees their reelection next year. They feel free to sabotage any compromises Pelosi might make to appease the moderates, even if it means foregoing an immediate political victory for President Biden, because they know their own seats are safe and they believe time is on their side.

Senators Manchin and Sinema feel strong enough to stand up to the intense pressure from the White House and party leaders, because they know that their moderate policies are more popular with voters in their home states right now than Biden and Pelosi are. They are also not afraid of the threat of a strong primary challenge from Democrat progressives, because they could easily respond by switching parties and would probably be welcomed by most Republicans in their states, as well as the national GOP leadership.

Progressive activists are so strongly motivated by their socialist-inspired ideology that they just can’t see that their own beliefs are the real threat to the ability of Democrats to remain competitive in upcoming national elections. The reservations expressed by Manchin and Sinema are not the problem — they are reasonable compromises in response to the realistic recognition by the moderates of current mainstream voter attitudes.


As long as progressive such as Sanders, Warren and AOC, who have been newly empowered by Biden and Pelosi, refuse to even consider such compromises, the Democrats are doomed to continue losing the support of their own working-class voters, including blacks, Latinos and women, as well as most independents who do not share their radical ideological beliefs.

The defections began back in 2016, when Donald Trump managed to convince many lifelong working-class Democrat voters to cross party lines because he was more concerned and willing to speak out for issues that were important to them than Democrat party leaders were.

Downballot Republican candidates continued to make gains with those voters in 2020, even though many had been turned off, at that point, by Donald Trump’s combative personality. Trump’s narrow loss to Biden camouflaged the continuing national political trend among working-class Democrat voters favoring the Republicans, but it is now reemerging for all to see.


That is also why increasingly desperate moderate Democrats are unwilling to allow mainstream voters to forget Trump’s excesses, both real and imagined. It is the only way they believe they can remain competitive in future elections — by trying to hold on to the swing voters that Trump had alienated.

The problem facing moderate Democrats is that they must compete in the 2022 midterms without Trump’s name on the ballot. There is also a growing realization among swing voters that despite all his flaws, Donald Trump was a much better president for this country than an incompetent and untrustworthy Joe Biden, under the control of his progressive handlers, is today.




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