Biden: Let's Finish The Job

[ Posted Wednesday, February 8th, 2023 – 16:30 UTC ]

Last night, President Biden gave (depending on how you look at it) a rousing State Of The Union speech or perhaps the first speech of his re-election campaign. Throughout it all, by my count, he uttered the phrase "Let's finish the job" a whopping 10 times (at the very least... I know I must have missed a few...). That sounds an awful lot like a new campaign slogan to me....

Biden's speech was rather extraordinary, mostly because of his delivery. He actively engaged with Republican hecklers, which is a very tricky thing to do, but he pulled it off masterfully. He stressed cooperation over partisan confrontation, for the most part, and called for unity and getting done what they could both agree upon. Which, again, is a very hard needle to thread in today's hyper-polarized America. But he managed to stay folksy and cheerful throughout it all, which is what made it all so extraordinary. I've already seen the term "happy warrior" used to describe Biden's performance last night, and it fits pretty well.

As expected, the speech stuck mostly to the tried-and-true listing of accomplishments mixed in with Biden's ambitions for future legislation. Biden reportedly heavily vetted the speech himself to remove all "Washington-speak" and/or technical government terms from the text. If this is true, he did a great job. He sounded natural and in his element for the entire speech -- it was all delivered in "Bidenese," to put it another way.

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Program Note

[ Posted Tuesday, February 7th, 2023 – 16:57 UTC ]

As is my wont, I will be watching the State Of The Union speech tonight and then writing my post-speech thoughts and reactions afterwards. But I am not sure I will finish this effort tonight, so I could either post it very late this evening or possibly tomorrow. Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up. Thanks for your patience.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Biden Takes The Stage

[ Posted Monday, February 6th, 2023 – 16:55 UTC ]

Tomorrow night, President Joe Biden will mark the halfway point of his first term in office by delivering a State Of The Union speech. He will remind Americans of all the things he has accomplished so far, and he will likely have a pared-down list of things he thinks he might still accomplish even with a divided Congress. All of which is traditional and expected. But what we can all also expect is a "soft launch" of Biden's re-election campaign.

Of course, the official launch of Biden's next campaign could come at any time now or it could even be months in the future. There's no real pressure on Biden to announce, since he seems to already have frozen all other Democrats out of the running. And there's no real mystery left at all about whether Joe's going to run again or not -- all the signs point to him doing so. He's been riding rather high politically ever since the midterms, and the economic numbers just keep getting better and better. Prior to the midterms, there was a lot of grumbling behind the scenes among Democrats about how it'd be better for the party if Biden did gracefully step aside to allow another candidate a shot at 2024, but those voices have all been quelled by the complete disappearance of the much-predicted midterm "red wave." Biden's job approval ratings have even been rising since then, although they still stand just below 45 percent -- which is supposed to be very dangerous territory for any politician seeking re-election. But if gas prices stay low and inflation continues to fall then Biden could be in the 45-50 percent range within a few months, which would be much more solid territory to run from.

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Friday Talking Points -- Biden Gets Good News Heading Into The SOTU

[ Posted Friday, February 3rd, 2023 – 18:24 UTC ]

Next Tuesday night, President Joe Biden will deliver his State Of The Union speech to a joint session of Congress. Today, he got some good news he will without doubt be touting in this speech -- the unemployment rate is not just low, not just "lower than it ever hit under Donald Trump," but historically low. The last time the unemployment rate was a mere 3.4 percent was in 1969, before we sent any men to the moon. If it falls any further, we'll have to go back to 1953 to find a similar number. So we certainly expect this to be prominently featured next Tuesday night.

Over half a million jobs were created in January. This is also an astounding number, since the predictions were that fewer than 200,000 had been created. Also, the figures for the past few months were revised upwards as well -- more jobs appeared at the end of 2022 than had previously been known. During Biden's time in office, the country has added an astounding 12.1 million jobs -- the fastest job-creation rate of any president ever. So, yeah, we fully expect a little football-spiking and endzone-dancing from Biden next week.

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Happy Groundhog Day

[ Posted Thursday, February 2nd, 2023 – 17:20 UTC ]

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! Or, to be more accurate, I should wish everyone a happy Groundhog Day, since I speak not of a small, furry weather prognosticator but instead of the movie of the same name which starred Bill Murray. For those of you who have just woken up from a multi-decade coma, the film subjected Murray to living the same day over and over again in a time loop. Which today certainly has some significant flavors of, you have to admit.

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And Then There Were Two

[ Posted Wednesday, February 1st, 2023 – 17:02 UTC ]

That headline is somewhat of a misnomer, of course, since when the phrase "...and then there were [number]..." is usually used, it conveys a shrinking of the field -- a Hunger Games style announcement-in-the-sky to mark when a tribute (contender) dies (literally in the stories, metaphorically when it comes to politics). In this case, though, it refers to the fact that there will soon be two official major-party candidates for president of the United States, not just one: Donald Trump and Nikki Haley (both Republicans). Haley has not formally announced, but has scheduled an official announcement event for February 15th. Trump, of course, announced about twelve seconds after the midterm elections, in an effort to distract from the storyline that he backed a whole bunch of losing candidates and quite possibly cost the Republican Party control of the Senate (once again). President Joe Biden is widely expected to announce on the Democratic side, but this may not happen for weeks or even, conceivably, months, because being the sitting president gives you the luxury of choosing your own timing.

Trump, as mentioned, announced early for reasons of his own (mostly having to do with seeing an active campaign as some sort of "get out of jail free" card, which is magically going to save him from all the multiple investigations into his previous actions). But there are reportedly a whole passel of other Republicans champing at the bit to run for president as well. So what has stopped them from throwing their own hats in the ring? Well, it still is extremely early in the cycle, and announcing a run means subjecting yourself to all the campaign finance rules (which you can avoid right up until you do actually announce your intention to run). But those are really minor reasons in this particular contest -- the major reason is that many of the other candidates are downright terrified of Trump's wrath, plain and simple.

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McCarthy Shows His Weakness With George Santos

[ Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2023 – 16:54 UTC ]

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is in a bind, quite obviously. He's got one member of his caucus who is not just politically toxic but politically radioactive. George Santos is currently being hounded by packs of reporters -- which is not exactly normal for a freshman congressman -- because there are just so many questions that remain unanswered about all his various lies and fabrications. Some of which may wind Santos up in some legal trouble, so he's keeping mum for the most part. And it doesn't seem like a day goes by without some further revelations of his pathological lying, which means those reporters aren't going to get bored with the story any time soon.

If these were more normal times, a party leader would either take Santos aside and tell him to do the right thing and resign, or if that didn't work Santos would be very publically drummed out of the party ranks and sent into political exile. This would mean no committee assignments and no political support whatsoever, verbally or financially. McCarthy, however, can't afford to do the right thing -- or, at least, he obviously thinks he can't afford to, from his words and actions to date. So instead, McCarthy was forced to reward Santos's vote for him for speaker by putting Santos on two relatively backwater committees. McCarthy has the thinnest of majorities and, when his full caucus is present, he can only afford to lose four votes on any issue. Currently, this is down to three votes, because one Republican House member recently fell off a ladder while doing yardwork and seriously injured himself (and McCarthy ended "proxy voting" so House members have to be present to vote once again). McCarthy's margin is so small he can't afford to lose anyone else.

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The Republican Bait-And-Switch

[ Posted Monday, January 30th, 2023 – 16:47 UTC ]

Remember the midterm election campaign last year? Remember what Republicans ran on? Apparently they're counting on everyone just conveniently forgetting, and pulling their usual "bait and switch" trick by loudly proclaiming they have a sweeping "mandate" on all sorts of stuff they barely (if ever) mentioned while running for office while largely ignoring the things they did actually run on. With the House of Representatives in Republican hands now, we will all get to see their real agenda, as opposed to the agenda they sold to the voters last year. The open question is what the public will think of it all.

Republicans, for the past decade (at the very least) have gotten elected with one overarching top priority: politically weaken all Democrats and the Democratic Party as much as they possibly can, in the hopes of improving their chances in the next election. To those unfamiliar with this concept, just think: "Benghazi!" -- Republicans rode that political hobbyhorse about as hard as they could, just to tarnish Hillary Clinton's political prospects.

That was then and this is now, however. The key phrase nowadays isn't: "...but her emails!" anymore, but rather: "Hunter Biden's laptop!" You can expect to hear lots and lots about it in the coming months, ad nauseam.

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Friday Talking Points -- Republicans Show Their True Colors

[ Posted Friday, January 27th, 2023 – 17:58 UTC ]

President Joe Biden gave a speech this week on the state of the American economy. On his watch, the economy has greatly improved as we all dug ourselves out of the pandemic recession together. So Biden deserves a victory lap. He also used the speech to draw a stark comparison between Democrats responsibly steering the economy and Republicans who apparently are salivating at the prospect of blowing it all up.

Biden pointed to many indicators that the economy is strong, including better-than-expected growth, all-time low unemployment levels, a manufacturing rebound, the fact that wages are now growing faster than inflation, and that inflation itself has been coming down for six straight months. Biden's big infrastructure investments are now being implemented across the country, in thousands of projects that will improve Americans' lives (including a whole bunch of them in red states and red districts). Biden's basic message: things are getting better and better.

So of course the Republicans now want to burn it all down. The big fight in Washington for approximately the next six months is going to be over the debt ceiling. House Republicans seem to think they got elected to hold the American economy hostage to force Draconian budget cuts on a Democratic president (they never scratch this particular itch when a Republican is in the Oval Office, of course). But the American people don't seem to agree -- a recent poll showed that 73 percent of the public did not agree with the House Republicans' priorities in Congress. Not exactly a mandate, is that?

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Let New Hampshire Go First

[ Posted Thursday, January 26th, 2023 – 17:17 UTC ]

At President Joe Biden's urging, the Democratic National Committee has picked a big and (in my opinion) a completely unnecessary fight with the state of New Hampshire. Last year, when the party met to decide which states would go first in the presidential primary calendar, Biden blindsided just about everyone with his own preferred schedule. Earlier, the party had announced there would be a free-for-all for states to apply for early primary slots, which was largely seen as a convenient way to demote Iowa from the early states, for multiple reasons (the largest being how incompetent they had been in 2020). This conventional wisdom held that one or perhaps even two other additional states would be elevated to the ranks of the early-voting states, again for multiple reasons. But few predicted that New Hampshire would be affected. This proved to be wrong, as Biden released his preferred schedule: South Carolina would be the "first in the nation" state, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire three days later (both voting on the same day). Yesterday, the party met again and instead of locking in Biden's new schedule, gave two states until June to comply with the new setup -- New Hampshire and Georgia (which was newly elevated into the ranks of early-voting states).

This is a largely symbolic and also a completely avoidable fight. What real difference is it going to make to the primaries if New Hampshire goes first or second? Why did Biden decided to pick this fight when it is going to continue to be a gigantic and distracting headache over the course of the next two years?

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