This article in today’s Washington Post is called, “Biden’s flexibility on policy could mean fierce fights if he wins.” In the paper edition, it’s called “Biden’s fluid ideas portend fierce fights if he’s elected.”
Notice the difference. “Flexibility” is often a desirable trait in a leader. Having “fluid ideas,” not so much.
The article itself, by Annie Linskey, goes with flexibility. It portrays Biden as a skillful mediator of conflicting views. In the end, it’s something of a puff piece.
Linskey’s premise is correct, though. There are conflicting views among leading Democrats about how Biden should govern if he becomes president. Some would want him to govern from the left, as Barack Obama did. Others would want him to govern from the far left, as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders would have done.
Fight House, Tevi Troy’s excellent book about infighting at the White House from the Truman presidency on, shows that ideological disagreement is, in fact, one of the best predictors of how fierce the fighting within an administration will be. On this basis alone, we can expect considerable tumult White House tumult, if Biden wins.
Tevi didn’t have occasion to discuss infighting under a president with diminished mental capacity. One has to go back to Woodrow Wilson’s second term to find such a president. But Biden’s mental capacity seems somewhat diminished already, and will likely decline as he approaches his 80th birthday. Thus, there might well be something like a void in the Oval Office in the event of a Biden presidency.
The sense of a void at the top of any organization will likely make infighting all the more intense — especially if that organization happens to be a high stakes operation like, say, the government of the United States.
Which faction would win the inevitable White House clashes in a Biden presidency? I imagine that both sides would enjoy some victories. Who would win what depends to some extent on which faction gets which top jobs and how good at infighting the key appointees are. (Kamala Harris’ presence as vice president isn’t likely to bring clarity. Her ideas seem as “fluid” as Biden’s.)
To a significant degree, though, policy would be set below the surface at the sub-cabinet level. And I expect that these jobs would be filled mostly by young, hard core far leftists.
Thus, there’s a good chance that a Biden administration would tilt far left.