Biden Agonistes

The pandemic has been very very good to Joe Biden, as it has allowed him to hide out in his basement for months and avoid much public exposure. He may have found its limits with his refusal to say whether he will support court-packing if he wins. Even our biased and weak-minded media is going to keep pressing the question, because Biden’s answer—that his answer will “become an issue”—is absurd.

But it also shows how inept Biden has become. One of several reasons he wants to avoid answering is that Democrats hope the prospect of court-packing might pry loose a couple of Republican votes against Amy Coney Barrett. So Biden could say something like, “I’d hope we won’t even need to consider the issue, which we won’t if the Senate does the right thing and doesn’t rush the confirmation of Barrett to the Supreme Court.” Or some variation of this.

The other reason he doesn’t want to say is that he knows that a lot of the progressive left will push hard for court-packing, and unless Democrats gain a sufficient Senate majority, court-packing is unlikely to pass. If he comes out for court-packing now, it could not only hurt his own campaign but could conceivably cost Democrats a couple of close Senate elections.

Someone in the media ought to ask Biden or his campaign spokespersons to comment on an interview Biden gave in Iowa last year, here he said the following:

Biden was not open to making any major changes to the judicial system, like expanding the Supreme Court. “No, I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day,” he said.

The Trump campaign might try promoting this quote, and assert that Biden has already declared against court-packing, and then see how Biden and the left deal with it.

We know that voter enthusiasm fort Biden is tepid at best, but some lefties are actually opposed to voting for Biden. One lefty group, Common Dreams, is urging their followers to vote for Biden to get rid of Trump, and then go to battle against Biden!

Protestations that Biden is beholden to elites are true but beside the point. The lesser evil is evil, but in this case, the greater evil is simply off the charts. . . So, it comes down to this. Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden. Vote for Biden at least in swing states—and urge others to do so as well. And then get on with building grassroots movements for ongoing fundamental change.

This is too much for another lefty group called New Politics, who think that the left shouldn’t vote for Biden at all:

We, members of the New Politics editorial board, wish to respond to the “Open Letter: Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden,” published in Common Dreamsand signed by 55 progressives, including two other members of the board. Given the horrendous nature of Trump and his regime, we understand why the signers have taken this position. Nevertheless, we reject the letter’s call for leftists to vote for Biden as a lesser evil. . .

First, it is important to note that Joe Biden is a “lesser evil” who has used his power to do great harm. For 40 years, Biden has been an enthusiastic proponent, and often a leading architect, of neoliberal foreign and domestic policies: assaults on public education, bank deregulation, militarized police forces, mass incarceration, gargantuan military budgets, savage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, full support to Saudi aggression against Yemen and Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. Biden is a member in good standing of what Naomi Klein calls the “Davos class.” His entire career in Congress was bankrolled by the credit card industry. And now, running for president, he famously promised his donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” for them if he is elected.

There’s much more, but this is enough. You can see not only why Biden is trying to thread the difficulty of keeping the Bernie Bros in the fold, and also how much difficulty he will have governing if he wins.

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