Biden’s Problem

I think I’ve hit on Pres. Joe Biden’s fundamental problem: he was never a mayor.

When you’ve been a mayor of a liberal city you learn one thing right out of the gate: the left is never, ever satisfied. The left lives to be disgruntled. They cannot govern because being outside shouting at the powers that be is in their DNA. They would much rather “speak truth to power” than to have it themselves.

Biden was a senator for thirty years and he is a legislator to his core, despite serving as Vice President. Legislators seldom have to really confront their base when their base is wrong or being unreasonable. Legislators can just side step the issue or even agree with their base, knowing that whatever it is they want will be cut down by other legislators or by the executive. When you’re a legislator there’s always someone else to whom you can pass the buck. Being a legislator means never having to say ‘no’ to your friends.

But last week Biden learned this hard lesson. He went to Georgia to talk tough and to show the left that he was passionate about voting rights, a cause important to them if not so much to the rest of the country. And the left thanked him by boycotting his appearance and then saying he still hadn’t done enough.

Stacey Abrams and other activists stayed away from Biden’s speech. Another activist wrote an oped in the New York Times, charging (implausibly) that, “The White House slept on voting rights — and now our very democracy is at risk.”

That’s the thanks he got for burning bridges with his over the top rhetoric, which I can only assume was designed to placate those very activists. Among other things, he accused everyone who doesn’t agree with him and with those activists of standing with George Wallace, Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis.

That was simply ludicrous. The Georgia law that Biden was assailing is most definitely not “Jim Crow 2.0.” Yes, it does impose some restrictions that are tighter than what was allowed during the COVID election of 2020, but those rules are still more liberal than what existed pre-COVID, and they’re even more liberal than what exists in New York and other liberal states like Biden’s Delaware.

This man is not Che Guevara. He should stop trying to sound like him.

I have to agree with right-center columnist Peggy Noonan who described Biden’s speech as, “aggressive, intemperate, not only offensive but meant to offend. It seemed prepared by people who think there is only the Democratic Party in America, that’s it, everyone else is an outsider who can be disparaged. It was a mistake on so many levels.”

Let’s hope Biden learned his lesson and got this out of his system. He’s been playing to the hard-left in his party for a year, and it’s not working out so well for him, for the party or for the country. Now’s the time to understand that he can never satisfy the left, no matter what he does.

So, lesson learned, it’s time to move back to the center. Biden should drop the shovel on voting rights, killing the filibuster and most of Build Back Better, and pick up a real shovel at every ground breaking he can find that is due to his historic bipartisan infrastructure bill. He might even be able to salvage a piece or two of BBB. After all, Joe Manchin had offered him a $1.8 trillion compromise plan that Biden rejected under pressure from that same hard-left that is so quick to abandon him no matter how hard he pitches on their behalf.

And, as for the two biggest issues right now — COVID and inflation — he can’t do much except keep reminding Americans that he feels their pain. That and, as a devout Catholic, he can say a few rosaries and light some candles in the hope that both will just resolve themselves by the summer.

If he does those things and returns to the unifying, soothing rhetoric of his inauguration, Biden may find that this was simply the winter of discontent with his administration, just a low ebb in the course of events. But the bottom line is that Biden simply has to distance himself from his party’s unrealistic, uncompromising and ever-grumpy hard-left.

Welcome to the 335th day of consecutive posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

5 thoughts on “Biden’s Problem

  1. Biden, Bridge-Burner-in-Chief:

    At the beginning of his term, the Democrats had a nine point lead in a Gallup poll asking whether people were Democratic or Democratic-leaning, or Republican/leaning. At the end of 2021? Republican 7 point lead.

    Democrats, read and weep.

    (I am an ex-lifelong Democrat, now trans-partisan. If asked in this poll, I would have said Republican-leaning)


  2. Perhaps, Biden knows what he is doing. I wrote that as one who does not think highly of him and his legislative history (Bork, 90s crime bill, Patriot Act, and being the Senator from to the Credit Card companies, etc…). This my theory, he gives the far left what they want for the 1st 2 yeas, his party gets slaughtered in the mid-terms. He tells them there way did not work and pivots dramatically the center and makes great strides and victory in 2024.


  3. President Joe has forgotten the politician’s most effective tool: a deprecating sense of humor when one gaffes or clearly makes a mistake. The great ones can turn a silk purse from a sow’s ear by using press access combined with casual settings with friendly company. Trump actually does this quite well, poking fun at himself (he has such a target rich environment for this strategy that he out-produces the opportunities he can ever potentially leverage for his own benefit). Seeing a recent replay of the famous GW Bush “fool me once” gaffe reminded me that these guys can endear themselves to their base provided they act human. Biden is trying to act too presidential, in doing so looks like he’s running scared and has lost his approachability in the process.


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