As we enter the transition phase to the President Biden administration, it is a fair question to ask which Joe Biden will govern? We have the old moderate “Lunch Bucket Joe” and the radical left convert Joe.
We must understand that as President, Biden does not have to kowtow with either faction in the Democratic Party – and there are definitely two factions that were temporarily joined by mutual animus for President Trump. His freedom from the pressure of either side is inherent in the likelihood that – at his age and health – he will be a one term President.
Let’s first look at what “Lunch Bucket Joe” might look like.
Biden has a history of working across the aisle. He takes great pride in his collegiality. Old Joe preferred cooperation to confrontation. That trait got him into a bit of trouble with his more racial base when he used his working together with southern racist senators as a good example of his manner of doing political business. That did not sit well with Democrats like New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Senator Kamala Harris, both of whom accused Biden of being a racist.
“Lunch Bucket Joe” is a crowd pleaser. His positions can shift with the zeitgeist of the moment. While Biden demonstrated an ability to roll, pitch and yaw on several key issues, he was surprisingly uncommittable – often embracing diametrically opposing views. In that sense, he has left his governing options open.
“Lunch Bucket Joe” was certainly peeved at how Justice Merrick Garland and Amy Coney Barrett got on the Supreme Court, but he is not likely to push to pack the high courts and all those other federal District and Appellate courts. He is not likely to call for the end of the filibuster.
If you recall, in the one court nomination where tradition and appropriateness were not the issue de jure, Biden was not in the political vigilante mob looking to run Justice Brett Kavanaugh out of town on a rail. In the past, Biden – as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee – was quite tough on the salacious testimony of Anita Hill during the confirmation hearing of Justice Clarence Thomas.
He may even be faithful to his promise not to end fracking in the near future. By putting off the fracking issue to the far distant future – passed his term in office – Biden has essentially taken it off the table as an administration objective.
“Lunch Bucket Joe” would never support legislation that would end private sector insurance plans. No single-payer healthcare that is at the top of the Bernie Sanders/Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wish list. While “Lunch Bucket Joe” has paid lip service to the Green New Deal, he has not put his full support to the entire left-wing plan.
During the campaign, “Lunch Bucket Joe” talked imprecisely about the funding or defunding of police. He expressed his opposition to the left’s Draconian call for real defunding. The moderate Joe is not likely to condemn policing in general, but more likely to show a more friendly approach to policing through all those police unions. “Lunch Bucket Joe” always wants to be considered the friend of organized labor.
But what about Radical Joe?
Biden is the consummate weathervane politician. Over his lifetime in public office, he has spun left and right according to the winds of political zeitgeist. During the campaign, he had to walk a very narrow path between the moderate and radical factions of the Democratic Party –leaning more to those on the left because they are the current center of political gravitas within the Party.
The left will be pushing hard to craft radical legislation to put on Biden’s desk in the Oval Office. The Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez faction has said that they see their job as pushing Biden as far left as possible. They want an end of private insurance in favor of government-run healthcare. They want to end fracking NOW!
They want a return to the Paris Climate Accord no matter how damaging that might be to the United States economy. They hope to re-engage with Iran in a new nuclear agreement. They want their new economy to be founded on public sector jobs and a massive redistribution of wealth. Of course, they want to take over the federal courts with a legion of new judges and justices. And to facilitate all this, they want to do away with supermajority votes and the filibuster.
Is Biden so malleable that he will sign whatever legislation they can get to his desk? There is every reason to believe that he would – and they are probably right.
Perhaps the only chance there is to see “Lunch Bucket Joe” in the White House is to make sure that Democrats cannot run the table in Congress. That means Republicans must hold on to control of the Senate. At this moment, the odds favor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell returning to that post in January – and with Senate Democrats facing a tough election year in 2022, that control is likely to be expanded.
In exploring the two potential personalities of a President Biden, does it mean we are facing “Good Biden” or “Bad Biden?” From a conservative point of view, there is no “Good Biden.” The options more likely are the difference between a “Bad Biden” and a “Terrible Biden.”
So, there ‘tis.