Thursday, Jul 18, 2024

Biden’s Summer Revival Raises Democrat Midterm Hopes


In one of the most rapid and dramatic comebacks in recent US political history, Democrats, under the leadership of a seemingly reinvigorated Joe Biden, have come storming back from the brink of despair. Since the beginning of June, Democrats have succeeded in passing a series of bills through a previously gridlocked 50-50 Senate, which will enable them to boast on the campaign trail for this November midterm elections that they have fulfilled a number of key promises that Biden made to his liberal voter base in 2020.

Since the end of July, Democrats have succeeded in passing the $280 billion CHIPS act to bolster domestic production capacity for computer chips and increase research and development in the field to maintain America’s technological edge in the face of a serious challenge by China for world dominance.

Almost immediately thereafter, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a surprise agreement with moderate West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin on the deliberately misnamed 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. The $700 billion measure included, in somewhat reduced form, some of the key liberal agenda items in Biden’s original $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, which Manchin had been blocking because of its exorbitant cost during a period of rising inflation.


The biggest single spending item in the bill is $369 billion to be spent over the next decade in “green energy” and anti-climate change provisions. Most of the spending will be in the form of federal tax credits which the Biden administration will be able to distribute to benefit companies owned by its politically well-connected supporters and campaign contributors. Another $64 billion will be spent to extend expiring subsidies for Obamacare health insurance premiums to benefit middle income families.

To help pay for these benefits, the measure imposes a 15% minimum tax on corporate profits for companies earning at least $1 billion in profits annually. It also hopes to generate $265 billion from this country’s pharmaceutical industries in the form of forced price reductions for prescription drugs purchased through Medicare. While that will result in some reduction in drug costs for Medicare participants, those savings will come at a longer-term cost in lives, by reducing the incentive for drug companies to invest in the developing new life-saving drugs in the years to come.

The measure also provides $124 billion to hire a new army of more than 80,000 IRS tax collection agents in an effort to increase revenues by stepping up the harassment of mostly middle-class taxpayers with threats of audits.

Even Democrats quickly conceded that the Inflation Reduction Act, was deliberately misnamed as a concession to Senator Manchin by pretending to address his widely publicized inflation concerns.


Democrats and some liberal economists also claimed that the bill’s inclusion of $300 billion in federal budget deficit reduction might eventually lead to a slowing in the rate of inflation. However, that argument was undermined last week by Biden’s announcement that he was also granting debt relief for up to $20,000 in federal college student loans.

A thinly-disguised liberal vote-buying scheme which was never debated or approved by Congress, it will force federal taxpayers, most of whom never went to college, to give a tax-free gift to the privileged minority of those who did. It would cost the federal government as much as $500 billion, more than wiping out any federal deficit savings from the so-called Inflation Reduction Act.

Democrats would not have been able to pass any of these new liberal spending measures this summer had it not been for the negligence of an overconfident Republican Senate leadership. Senator Manchin’s objections to Biden’s original liberal spending measures, with the exception of his $1.1 trillion Covid stimulus package, spared Republicans the need to organize public opposition to those plans, and led them to falsely assume that Manchin could be relied upon to continue blocking Biden’s agenda indefinitely.

Initially, as president, Biden was able to largely maintain his popularity with the American people who were willing to continue giving him the benefit of the doubt. However, that quickly came to an end after Biden’s badly botched plan for a US military withdrawal from Afghanistan during the summer of 2021 revealed the extent of his incompetence.


The Afghanistan debacle turned out to be only the beginning of Biden’s job approval ratings plunge. As the failure of his domestic policies became more apparent, ranging from the rising tide of illegal immigration and smuggling at the Mexican border, to the spike in violent crime on America’s streets, to the mass revolt of parents against the introduction of radical liberal public-school curriculums, Biden was never able to regain his initial popularity.

By far Biden’s biggest single political liability was his administration’s stubborn refusal to recognize that his liberal big spending problems had triggered runaway inflation in the US economy for the first time in 40 years. That, together with his inability, due to Manchin’s opposition, to pass his ambitious liberal legislative agenda, eventually prompted even some of Biden’s supporters to begin comparing his dismal record in office to the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter.

By the beginning of this summer, a quiet consensus had developed among national Democrat supporters that he would never be able to recover his initial popularity, and a media campaign was launched, on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as other liberal publications such as Politico, calling on Biden to withdraw his announced candidacy for reelection in 2024, for the good of the Democrat party. The growing perception that the American people were no longer willing to respect Biden’s presidential leadership was confirmed in early June, when Biden’s dismal job approval numbers finally sank below the politically critical 40% level, and then lingered there.


Democrats were also becoming concerned at that time that the long-suppressed evidence of Biden’s notorious international influence-peddling schemes were gaining credibility. Their ultimate fear was that a serious investigation of the incriminating evidence found on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, and which had, by that time, been validated by the FBI, might eventually badly tarnish the personal reputation of the president himself.

As a result, as recently as mid-July, both Republicans and most Democrats were convinced that Joe Biden was already a lame duck, with no realistic hope of salvaging the balance of his one-term presidency. Democrat candidates in the upcoming midterm elections were also bracing for the worst. Based upon projections from their own pollsters, Democrats were anticipating a Republican landslide of historic proportions in the House, and as well as more limited gains that would enable the GOP to regain narrow majority control over the Senate as well.

However, those gloomy expectations have now rapidly been transformed into growing Democrat optimism, fed initially by their unexpected string of recent legislative accomplishments. Even more important, Democrats have benefitted from the perception that inflation, which has been the number one political issue for most American voters since the beginning of this year, has now peaked.

The Biden administration has been quick to claim the credit for the rapid fall of gas prices at the pump, from a record of more than $5.00 a gallon over Memorial Day weekend, to $3.85 a gallon today, even though, when gas prices hit their peak, they stubbornly continued their ongoing war on America’s domestic fossil fuel industry, while unfairly blaming the oil companies for price gouging the consumer.


But before that turnaround in Biden’s political fortunes, it must be noted that the Republican leadership foolishly squandered a golden opportunity to seize the national political momentum by failing to present the voters with coherent alternative conservative policies. Instead, Republicans allowed themselves to become distracted by destructive internal battles for control between traditional party leaders and Donald Trump and his supporters, who, to this day, still stubbornly refuse to accept the reality of his 2020 electoral defeat.

In state after state, Trump supporters battled the GOP party establishment by promoting candidates whose main agenda was not solving the many problems facing the American people today, but rather trying to right the imagined wrongs of the 2020 election. The result has been the nomination of inexperienced and unqualified Trump-supporting gubernatorial and senatorial candidates with much lesser chances of winning their general elections, in states such as Pennsylvania or Georgia, where any competent GOP candidate would be expected to win easily in this midterm election year.


This is not a new problem for Republicans. It also happened during the runup to the 2010 midterm election, which was dominated by the grassroots revolt of the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party was able to take over because of the failure of mainstream GOP leaders at that time to block President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. While Republicans won that midterm election by a wide margin, the GOP victory would likely have been much larger had the Tea Party factions not backed several clearly unqualified candidates in that year’s primaries.

Some GOP political analysts have also argued that the continued failure of national GOP party leadership to respond to the needs and priorities of their grassroots voters ultimately enabled Donald Trump’s surprise takeover of the party in 2016.


While strong alternative national GOP leaders have emerged, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former vice president Mike Pence, among others, none has yet been able to articulate their own clear conservative vision for the country’s future, their own updated version of Newt Gingrich’s famous 1994 legislative agenda dubbed the “Contract with America.” Instead, DeSantis, Pence, and the others have adopted, almost by default, the continuation of the same policies that Trump followed during his presidency.

The failure of a strong new GOP national leader to emerge on his own also explains Trump’s surprising ability to continue to dominate the party, despite his electoral loss in 2022 and the subsequent damage to his personal prestige due to his stubborn refusal to concede electoral defeat, as well as his irresponsible behavior during the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

This, in turn, has fed the public’s perception that Trump remains the party’s leader, when polls actually show that many Republican and almost all independent voters would prefer a different GOP presidential candidate to run against Biden and his failed liberal policy agenda in 2024.


Gingrich’s “Contract with America” had consisted of congressional proposals which would:

  1. Require Congress to balance the federal budget each year, with limited exceptions
  2. Pass an anti-crime package with stricter sentencing guidelines and block grants to support local law enforcement agencies
  3. Create a $500 per-child tax credit for families

4, Stop sending US troops to fight abroad under United Nations commanders

  1. Create a package of small business incentive measures, a capital gains tax cut, and the mandatory review of any new federal regulations that would impose significant additional costs to business
  2. Start the establishment of term limits for US congressmen and senators
  3. Pass various provisions to encourage adoption, give parents a greater say in the education of their children, as well as tax cuts and increases in earning limits for Social Security recipients

Most Republican conservatives of that era eagerly embraced Gingrich’s platform. They were soon richly rewarded with a historic victory in the 1994 midterm, which gave the GOP control of both the House and the Senate for the first time since the Dwight D. Eisenhower elections landslide of 1952. Their control over Congress enabled Gingrich and his fellow Republicans to force Democrat President Bill Clinton to endorse their conservative fiscal agenda, which actually resulted in several years of balanced federal budgets and a temporary halt to the steady increase in the size of the national debt.


Unfortunately, none of the members of the current GOP congressional leadership seems willing to launch an open challenge to Trump’s party leadership. That is not surprising. As a group, most senior GOP party leaders consist of lawmakers who have spent far too much time fundraising for their next campaign and listening to Washington’s army of corporate lobbyists and political consultants, rather than making the effort to reach out to the voters of Main Street America to learn their actual needs and desires.

One can easily imagine that several of those 1994 proposals would also be included in any new GOP version of the Contract with America written today. Some of the additional measures Republicans would include to meet the needs for our times would strongly encourage the restoration of America’s energy independence, make local school board and public school curriculum decisions more accountable to parents, restore the strict enforcement of federal immigration laws at the Mexican border, provide greater federal support for law enforcement agencies nationwide as well as the restoration of strict local arrest and criminal sentencing guidelines, and implement new tax and investment policies designed to make American products more competitive in the international marketplace.

Yet, to date, no current GOP national figure has brought forth such a proposal. Instead of being forward-looking, proposing new solutions to today’s problems, most current GOP candidates are simply endorsing a return to Donald Trump’s policies, which haven’t essentially changed since he ran for president in 2016.


One of the few GOP leaders who have recognized this failure as a lost opportunity for the party to reassert its national leadership is former Trump attorney general Bill Barr.

During a lengthy interview with liberal columnist Bari Weiss in a podcast last week, Barr noted that, “The defining dynamic of our period right now is the sharp leftward turn of the Democratic Party. That creates a huge opportunity, because they’ve moved so far to the left, which can allow the Republicans to come in, as they did in 1980, and seize a decisive majority. That enabled Reagan to win two terms. It also forced the Democrats to elect a moderate Democrat like Clinton, who ran the country in the center.

“So it’s a huge opportunity. But instead of taking it, we are purging the party and starting civil wars over whether people are RINOs [Republicans in name only].”

Barr attributes this problem to Trump, for falsely accusing his GOP political opponents of betraying the party’s principles. To the contrary, Barr insists, “There’s never been more consistent conservatism within the Republican Party than there is today. The idea that there are RINOs, people that really don’t support Republican principles, is simply not true. What the president is defining as RINOs are people who are true blue Republicans and conservatives, but who just have a problem with Trump personally.”

According to Barr, Trump is saying to the rest of the Republican Party, “If you don’t do things my way and if I’m not the nominee, I’m taking my ball and going home. I will sabotage anyone you put up.”

As a result, Barr declares that Trump’s “pursuit of a personal agenda and personal power is weakening the Republican Party at a time when it could have a historic victory and make historic progress in ‘making America great again’…

“[Ronald] Reagan’s approach in 1980 was unifying the party and bringing over classical liberals who were upset at the turn of the Democratic Party in the 60s and 70s. We should be doing the same thing now,” Barr pointed out.


Barr also explained why he eventually supported Trump in the 2016 election campaign even though Jeb Bush had been Barr’s preferred GOP presidential that year.

“I think the greatest threat to the country is the radical progressive movement and what it’s degenerated into,” Barr said. “In 2016, had there been another Democratic administration, I was concerned that we’d have dug an even deeper hole that would be much harder to get out of. I think Trump did serve a historic purpose: He was sort of the wrecking ball, and against progressive excess. People were mad about it, and they wanted a no-nonsense person who would be a wrecking ball, and he did that. What I’m saying now is that we need something different moving forward. I give him credit for identifying people’s frustrations and being willing to call out some of the progressive excess that other people were cowering about then.”

“So, I think the Never Trumpers were wrong, because I do think that Trump did stop, or at least arrest, the progressive march to some extent. Part of that was in the Supreme Court. I would have supported Trump once he made clear the kind of people who would report to the courts on that basis alone,” Barr added.


While current polls still predict that the GOP will win a majority in the House, because of the weak pro-Trump candidates now on the ballot, the GOP margin is expected to be much smaller than had been predicted as recently as six weeks ago. In the Senate, the weak pro-Trump candidates could well prove fatal to GOP hopes for establishing a majority in November. Several national polls are now predicting either a continuation of the current 50-50 split, or even the possibility that Democrats could gain some seats, at last establishing a true majority of their own.

The growing confidence of Democrats in their ability to survive the midterm elections is also indicated by the virtual disappearance of calls from within the party for Biden to announce his withdraw from the 2024 presidential campaign. The mainstream media has followed that cue by going back to its previous practice of ignoring Biden’s frequent gaffes and treating him as a respected and trusted national leader once more. Though even while Biden is once again the default Democrat presidential candidate for 2024, his voter job approval rating is still underwater by double digits. However, that is a question which the Democrats have now put on hold while they concentrate on surviving the midterm election, now only two months away.

The once confident Republicans are also growing concerned about their dimming prospects for victory in the midterm elections. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now saying that a new Republican majority in the Senate can no longer be treated a certainty, especially in light of current distraction created by controversy over the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago.


It was obvious from the beginning that the raid was a politically-motivated decision by Attorney General Merrick Garland. It now appears to be a part of a larger Democrat political agenda to keep the media focused on Trump’s alleged “crimes” rather the ongoing failures of the Biden administration’s liberal policies.

Keeping the attention fixed on Trump is also an effective way for Democrats to “run out the clock” on the midterm electoral campaign. It enables them to keep their Republican opponents busy trying to defend Trump, instead of promoting their own solutions to the many problems which Biden’s failed policies have created.


However, there is a successful strategy that today’s GOP candidates could follow that would make them immune to the constant Democrat distraction efforts over Trump. It was tested and proven last November in Virginia, with the gubernatorial campaign of Glenn Youngkin, a businessman who self-funded his first electoral race against a formidable and well-known Democrat opponent, Terry McAuliffe.

Initially, Youngkin was given little chance in his race against the popular former Virginia governor — but Youngkin also understood that McAuliffe’s greatest vulnerability was his close association with the liberal Biden policies that were becoming unpopular with Virginia’s traditional voters. Youngkin’s strategy called for him to perform a delicate political balancing act which sought to avoid any close association with Donald Trump’s controversial presidency, while at the same time refusing to say anything that might risk offending Trump or his many GOP supporters in Virginia.

The strategy worked. On November 2, 2021, Youngkin defeated McAuliffe by a 50-48% margin, which made him the first GOP candidate to win election to statewide office in Virginia since 2009. The upset victory turned Younkin into an instant nationwide Republican role model for success in the 2022 midterms. But just how many other Republicans running in this November’s election will choose to follow the Youngkin model by turning their backs on Donald Trump remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the string of recent Biden successes has, at least for now, quieted the Democrat whispering campaign calling for the president to renounce his declared intentions to run for reelection in 2024. In the mainstream media, articles questioning Biden’s ability to run for and serve a second term have disappeared — as has all mention of the potential scandal arising out of the evidence of Hunter Biden’s influence-peddling schemes.


Recent confirmation by the FBI that the incriminating emails and other evidence found on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop was genuine, and not, as Biden supporters had insisted, phony evidence planted by the Russians, is no longer being mentioned in mainstream news reports. Nor does anyone in the mainstream media seem to be interested in reporting last week’s statement by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a Joe Rogan podcast.

Zuckerberg told Rogan that Facebook began censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story during the final weeks of the 2020 campaign in response to a general warning it had received from the FBI about Russian disinformation.

He said the FBI told Facebook that “there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election” and “there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that, so just be vigilant.” Rogan then asked Zuckerberg whether the FBI explicitly flagged Hunter’s laptop as disinformation. “No,” Zuckerberg said. “I don’t remember if it was that specifically, but it basically fit the pattern.”

But as opposed to Twitter, which banned all references to the New York Post article which broke the Hunter Biden laptop story, Facebook merely demoted it on its list of newsworthy stories, while its fact-checkers were trying to determine whether the story was true or not. As a result, Zuckerberg said, “the ranking [of the Hunter Biden story] in [Facebook’s] News Feed was a little bit less, so fewer people saw it than would have otherwise.”

Nevertheless, Zuckerberg told Rogan that he regretted having reduced the distribution of the story until his fact-checkers could confirm it, while at the same time defending the Facebook process as “pretty reasonable.”

“We still let people share it. But obviously you don’t want situations like that,” Zuckerberg conceded.


Based upon Zuckerberg’s account, the FBI’s deliberate interference in the US presidential electoral process has only grown in scope and audacity since Peter Strzok launched his notorious investigation into the 2016 Trump election campaign, based upon bogus charges invented by the Clinton campaign that Trump was colluding with the Russians. In the 2020 election, the FBI graduated from investigating the Trump campaign to censoring the distribution of information that could be damaging to Trump’s opponent.

Those accusations were recently confirmed in a public letter sent by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa to the Christopher Wray, the current director of the FBI, based the testimony of two whistleblowers within the agency. According to an article published by The Federalist, Grassley concluded that the senior agents of FBI “directly interfered in two consecutive presidential elections, placing a heavy hand on the scales to benefit Democrats in 2016 and 2020, all in hopes of keeping Donald Trump out of the White House” by deliberately sabotaging the investigation into the Hunter Biden laptop just prior to the 2020 election.

And now, more than two years before the next presidential election, the FBI has eagerly conducted a fully-armed pre-dawn raid on Donald Trump’s Florida home, ostensibly in an effort to recover government documents still illegally in Trump’s custody.

The legal basis for the Mar-a-Lago raid was always dubious. According to deliberate leaks to the media from the FBI, the concern was that Trump’s continued possession of the documents somehow threatened national security — despite the fact that he claimed that he used his power as president to declassify all the documents in his possession. It was also hard to see how Attorney General Merrick Garland might criminally indict the former president when in previous similar cases, the FBI and the Justice Department declined to severely punish the offenders.


Investigative reporter John Solomon also disclosed last week the existence of Biden White House memos and emails written this April and May, which show that then-White House Deputy Counsel Jonathan Su was working directly with the FBI, the Justice Department, and the National Archives to lay the legal groundwork for the Mar-a-Lago raid.

The memos directly contradict the initial public claims by the White House that it had been taken totally by surprise by news of the raid. In fact, the memos and emails show that not only was the Biden White House well aware, months in advance, of FBI plans for the raid, it had also assured the FBI that President Biden would not raise any objections to the raid on the grounds of violating executive privilege.

Legal experts now also agree that based upon inspection of a heavily-redacted form of the affidavit supporting the search warrant that the court released last week, it is highly unlikely that the FBI had any evidence in advance of the raid of a serious crime that had been committed by Trump’s mishandling of the documents.


Even if there were such evidence, recent case precedent suggests that the FBI would still not be likely to bring serious charges against Trump unless there was also proof of deliberate intent by Trump to harm national security.

Deliberate intent was the standard applied when former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was caught removing documents from the National Archives in 2003 by hiding them in his clothing. Because there was no evidence of such intent, Berger’s sentence was limited to a $50,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.

In 2016, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed more than 30,000 subpoenaed documents on her private email server, including highly classified documents, James Comey, then head of the FBI, refused to prosecute her, and let her go with nothing more serious than a public tongue-lashing.

Thus, for the Justice Department to try to impose a harsher sentence on former president Trump for a much less egregious version of the same kind of offense, would appear to imply that he was being denied his Constitutional rights to equal treatment under the law.


In fact, it is now clear, three weeks after the Mar-a-Lago raid, that it had a very different two-fold purpose. First, it was a thinly-disguised fishing expedition in the FBI’s search for other evidence that might support more serious criminal charges that could potentially prevent Trump from running again in 2024. Second, it was yet another in a long series of false accusations and bogus investigations instigated by Democrats to keep smearing Donald Trump’s reputation.

This extended smear campaign, which was inaugurated by the Clinton campaign the morning after it lost the 2016 election, has now become a highly successful political tactic by keeping the political pressure off Biden for his many policy failures. It is also the latest manifestation of what has become known as Trump Derangement Syndrome: the obsessive determination by Democrats to keep blaming Donald Trump for virtually everything that is wrong with this country today, including problems resulting from the many ongoing failures of Biden’s policies.


After six years of lies, innuendoes, and false facts, the smear campaign against Donald Trump has now taken on a life of its own. Whether the latest charges against Trump are true or not — or whether there is any evidence to support them — is of no concern to those spreading them. They have long since convinced themselves that Trump is inherently evil, and therefore must be found guilty of, at the very least, being Donald Trump.

This is the key point which Republican candidates running in the November midterms must understand. Any public attempt to defend Trump or justify his actions is ultimately doomed to fail, because anyone infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome is inherently incapable of listening to the evidence being presented on the other side. Indeed, the very act of trying to defend Trump is treated as convincing evidence that all his supporters are just as evil as he is.

Thus, Glenn Youngkin’s successful Virginia strategy, which starts by eliminating Trump as a legitimate subject for pre-election debates, appears to be the only practical way for Republican candidates to conduct their midterm campaigns this fall.


But if that is so, it is a disturbing indicator of the low level to which acceptable political debate has now fallen in this country.

In her interview with former attorney general Bill Barr, Bari Weiss asked him about that specific point. Referring to the famous friendship between two ideological opponents on the Supreme Court, the conservative Antonin Scalia and the liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Weiss observed that creating such a friendship across the political aisle “seems almost inconceivable today — a world in which protests are being held outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, and the FBI agents who searched Trump’s home are being targeted by his supporters after their identities were leaked to the public. Is there any going back to that world of good faith disagreement, when politics weren’t the politics of total personal destruction? Have we left that world behind?”

Barr seems agree with that observation, and sadly notes, “If we’ve left it behind, I don’t think this ends well for the country…

“I put this on the doorstep of the radical progressives as their responsibility. They’re the ones who have sharply shifted. The political model before this was the liberal democratic spectrum where you have right and left, but we’re all within the liberal, democratic, Anglo-American political tradition.

“What we’ve moved to [today] is a bipolar system that’s more typical of revolutionary countries, where you have some totalitarian party trying to take power. It’s all or nothing and anything goes. It’s war by other means…”


Barr then explained that, “Those of us who are traditional conservatives… believe in the Anglo-American system of politics. We have a First Amendment that allows citizens to debate and come to some consensus for the public good…

“One of the things that bothers me is that people talk about the threat to democracy… In the Federalist [papers, founding father James] Madison says it’s when the majority uses democracy to oppress the minority. When someone takes a transient 51% majority and tries to ram things down the throat of the other 49%…

“Whereas the institutions that we’ve had before this were meant to require some form of consensus and incremental change. They allowed people to build up some consensus for an approach, and things moved slowly. That’s not good enough for revolutionaries, who want to tear things down or change things instantaneously. I think that’s the basic challenge we face [as a country] right now.”




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