The gaslighting of Biden by the MSM continues
Posted by Raskolnikov on May 5, 2021, 4:37 pm
with the fraudian in particular this time (shock, horror!) No surprise this bullshit comes out of the mouth of an ex-Obomber staffer (I just started reading "He Was Our Man in Washington" and Obama was even worse then I remember): |
celebrated the $1.9tn relief plan that passed within the first days of his presidency and proposed an ambitious $4tn plan for family care, green infrastructure, education and jobs that Democrats might have been surprised to hear from even Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. To understand how Biden, the 78-year-old self-proclaimed moderate, came to push such an ambitious and progressive domestic policy agenda, you can start by looking at the young lanyard-wearing staffers who populate the West Wing and Old Executive Office Building.
Policy decisions in Washington are made by the principals – the president, the senators and the cabinet secretaries – but their decisions are significantly constrained by the information they receive. I served as associate staff secretary to President Obama from 2015 until the end of his term, building his briefing book and ensuring the appropriate staff edited and commented on the memos he received, and I saw how this information shaped the president’s choices. The president’s staff give the president a policy menu of memos, data and updates on government programmes. Extending the menu analogy, presidential decision-making looks a lot more like choosing from a few items on the prix fixe than dictating a specific meal to a private chef.
And what the meal looks like depends on how it’s described. Was the American economy strong for working Americans in 2015 because unemployment was low, or was the economy not nearly at full employment because the employment-to-population ratio had not recovered sufficiently from the Great Recession? That depends on the views of the members of the Council of Economic Advisers preparing data memos for the president. Should the administration pursue a carbon tax because it is the right thing to do even if it is unpopular, or should the administration pursue a more popular and less effective green energy policy? That in turn depends on what the data crunchers throughout the administration tell the principals, and how staff define what’s “popular”: is it what the polls say, or the consensus among Washington pundits?
So Biden’s decisions, like those of any president, are heavily influenced by what the staffers who populate the White House tell him. The new cohort of staff, who joined the administration when Biden took office, have fundamentally different views and experiences to those who worked under Obama’s presidency 12 years ago. Indeed, many of those staffers, myself included, saw Republicans block Obama at every turn, threatening to breach the debt ceiling in 2011, refusing to agree to additional stimulus when it was obviously necessary in 2013 and 2014, and preventing Merrick Garland from joining the supreme court. That was before the Republicans led America into a Donald Trump presidency, which exposed their austerity concerns as bogus and ended in an attempted coup.
The young Democratic staffers who dominate the White House and Capitol today have never known a Republican party worth negotiating with. They are tired of the Republicans and are convincing their principals to join them. And so a huge, popular stimulus package that includes child tax credits, increased health care subsidies and direct relief payments made its way through the Senate within two months of Biden’s inauguration, without a single Republican vote. When Washington pundits howled that the package was too large and not bipartisan, White House staff simply pointed to public opinion polling demonstrating the overwhelming popularity of the bill, marking a generational shift away from the centralised gatekeepers of Washington’s “Sunday shows”, the political talkshows that have represented and defined the mainstream current of Washington opinion for decades.
This generation of staffers haven’t just got different tactics: their ideological commitments are different too. Many of them lived through the Great Recession, have accumulated significantly less wealth than their baby boomer and gen X elders, and therefore have a much more positive view of how government action can improve people’s lives.
Beyond their economic experiences, they are also more diverse than their forebears. The Biden administration announced in January that of its first 100 appointees, over half were women and people of colour. Even young white Democrats, spurred by activists and protesters across the country, are significantly more progressive on racial justice and immigration issues than they would have been four or eight years ago. Many of the staffers who now occupy the White House worked for the Senate offices and primary campaigns of Warren and Sanders. Those senators didn’t win the primary, but their ideas can still be found in the White House, at least on domestic policy.
Yet while Democratic staff largely agree on most domestic issues, from transgender rights to increasing the power of workers, resistance still exists among some principals on other issues. The White House still remains hesitant over marijuana policy, for example; Biden is unwilling to join the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, in calling for a full legalisation of marijuana, and instead favours decriminalisation. And the Biden administration’s clear-sighted, progressive vision for domestic policy doesn’t extend to foreign policy. Unlike the numerous former Warren staffers running around the National Economic Council and treasury departments, the Situation Room doesn’t have leftwing Senate staffers moving through its doors.
Still, some good signs are perhaps emerging. The Democrats who now staff the White House came of age knowing that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were failures, and that Washington’s foreign policy “blob” – from the state department to the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies – led us astray. And the agreement on what went wrong has paid some immediate dividends, with Biden overriding the national security apparatus to announce that the United States will leave Afghanistan this year after two long, largely pointless decades spent in the country.
Moving beyond what America should not do – like invade Iraq for no good reason – to the question of what America should do on the global stage will require leftwing Democrats to produce a robust, positive vision of American foreign policy. Foreign policy often involves making hard choices from a menu containing only bad options, and the left remains split over how to make those choices. Knee-jerk interventionism is bad, but so are China’s “re-education” camps and anti-democratic actions in Hong Kong. Sanctions often harm the people they’re intended to help, but how else should the United States fight back against the tide of rightwing authoritarianism?
As in the domestic sphere, there is space here for a younger, more diverse generation to begin to shift the paradigm. If Biden’s presidency is remembered as more progressive than anyone anticipated, they will have played no small part in making it so.
Joel Wertheimer is a civil rights attorney and was formerly associate staff secretary for Barack Obama
I highlighted some bits that caught my eye: trying to slip that lying snake Warren in as comparable to Bernie, the usual smattering of idpol "victories", x% are women, more diverse etc., and the paragraph blaming "the foreign policy blob" for Iraq and Afghanistan but not his ex-boss of course, no sir. The commander in chief had nothing to do with all that.