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Biden channels his inner Gough | ticker VIEWS

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As Joe Biden prepares to face his most momentous week as president, with his entire legislative agenda on the line in Congress over the next few days, Biden is channeling his inner Gough Whitlam, who famously said:

“You’ve got to crash through or you have got to crash.”

Whitlam was more charismatic, more tumultuous in bearing and outlook, more larger than life than Biden. 

Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC was the 21st prime minister of Australia

But not more of a dreamer of what a good government should stand for.  The pillars of Whitlam’s policy agenda – health care, education, labour rights, human rights, anti-racism, gender equity, fairer taxes – are the same as what Biden is championing in his “Care Economy” program.

The president has been clear:  he demands action now

BRUCE WOLPE ON BIDEN’S PLEDGE TO UNIFY USA

He wants to take his climate policies to Glasgow to show the world that the United States is a leader in moving the planet to net zero by 2050 – and a lot more progress before 2030. 

And he wants to tell the American people that more help on the issues they care about every day – good jobs at good wages, education for their children and removing the wolf of poverty from their doors, expanded access to affordable health care, rebuilding roads and digital highways – is about to arrive.

Republicans are unalterably opposed and are resisting the Biden program with full political force.

The Democratic margin in the House is three votes.  There is no margin in the Senate; all 50 Democrats, plus the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, are essential. This is why Biden said in his CNN Town Hall last week that, in the 100-member Senate:

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the May jobs report after U.S. employers boosted hiring amid the easing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, U.S., June 4, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“Every one is a president. Every single one. So you gotta work something out.”

That’s what Biden is doing.  He is in the late stages of reaching an agreement with his Democrats in both chambers.  He has had to jettison free community college, reduce paid parental leave, abandon lower prescription drug prices through Medicare and higher tax rates for corporations. 

Still, if this scaled-back legislation is passed, Biden will have this year delivered $5 trillion in economic stimulus and investment in American households. 

In scale and scope, what Biden has on the table in Congress is as significant as Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

This is why this week is Biden’s crash through or crash moment

BRUCE WOLPE ON WHY BIDEN IS AT A CROSS ROADS RIGHT NOW

If he succeeds, it will be momentous in its own right, and will give Democrats momentum as they face the midterm elections for the control of Congress next year. 

If he succeeds, it will give Biden political capital to prosecute the racial equity agenda in a Senate choked by its rules for legislative debate.  

But if Biden fails, if the Democrats do not unify and vote this legislation through the House and Senate, Biden’s presidency will come to a screeching halt.  There will be no more progressive legislation of real consequence. 

Unlike Gough, Biden cannot be removed as president by a Governor General, but there will be nothing to save his presidency from paralysis for the balance of this term.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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Trump’s campaign tactic – debase and disgrace the legal process

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Donald Trump, former president of the United States, hated Arraignment Day I in Manhattan two months ago, the first time a former president had been criminally charged. 

Trump was being forced against his will into a proceeding he had utter contempt for.  He was being arrested and fingerprinted and photographed under an indictment under the jurisdiction of Manhattan in New York City for allegations of hush money payments and fraudulent bookkeeping practices to conceal criminal activity. Trump heard the charges read out against him and he entered a plea of not guilty.

Trump had a terrible day. Trump wore a scowl throughout. His countenance was fearsome.  What Trump hated most about his arraignment in New York is that he had to sit at a table with his counsel side by side with him — equal to him — and with the judge above him looking down on him. Trump could not control the discussion and could not interrupt to make his points.

Trump was subordinate to the judge. He was subordinate to no one as president.

Arraignment Day II

Arraignment Day II in Miami will be worse from Trump, even more stressful.  The charges are substantially more serious:  the alleged violation of federal criminal statutes involving the alleged mishandling and illegal possession of classified documents, lying to legal authorities, and obstruction of justice.  Potential penalties run to years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Trump throughout his business life had always crafted his affairs to avoid being a defendant. But in his term in office, he was caught up in it big time. He was a defendant in two impeachment trials – again, unprecedented events – and left office in disgrace.

But Trump does not feel disgraced. He never does.  Trump does not have a reverse gear.  He never retreats.  Never admits. Never concedes. Never yields.  Trump is never embarrassed. Trump never feels ashamed. When something goes wrong, it is always the fault of someone else.

And Trump never repents.

Trump can feel this way because Trump is waging war on behalf of his armies in “the final battle” for the future of the county. In his first, fiery post-indictment speech in Georgia, Trump said, “They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people.  In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you … “Either we have a Deep State, or we have a Democracy…Either the Deep State destroys America, or WE destroy the Deep State.”

It is a powerful formulation, and his true believers love it.

Hours later, In North Carolina, Trump mainlined his distilled message for the Republican crowd:

“We are a failing nation. We are a nation in decline. And now these radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections by using law enforcement.

It’s totally corrupt and we cannot let it happen.

This is the final battle.

With you at my side we will demolish the Deep State.

We will expel the warmongers from our government.

We will drive out the globalists.

We will cast out the communists.

We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country.

We will roll out the fake news media.

We will defeat Joe Bide and we will liberate America from those villains once and for all.”

Any lesser mortal would be staggered by these events.  Any other presidential candidate would be driven from the race.  But not Trump.

Debase and disgrace

Trump is using the same playbook today as he successfully triggered after being charged in New York:  debase and disgrace the legal process by terming it completely political.  Trump said the federal indictment is “election interference at the highest level.”

Almost every other Republican running for president has adopted this line, insulating Trump from pressure to leave the field.

Trump’s chief opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said after these indictments: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”

Republican congressperson Nancy Mace: “This is a banana republic. I can’t believe this is happening.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Democrats are arresting their political enemies. and they work together in their corrupt ways to get it done.”

Trump is using his affliction to raise millions of dollars from his base.

Trump will likely face Arraignment Day III in Georgia in August.  A state prosecutor is expected to charge Trump with criminal interference in the certification of Georgia’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

As of now, there is no sign of cracks in Trump’s support among Republican voters.  There is no surge to another candidate.  What remains to be seen is whether Republican voters, as they see Trump spend his days in courtrooms and his evenings at rallies around the country, reach a conclusion that this is a spectacle too far, too much to bear, and that they want to turn to another conservative populist who stands for them in the political trials— and not the criminal trials – of 2024.

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Donald Trump’s legal woes will serve him well

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It’s not often that a U.S. President faces federal indictment, but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it might as well be Donald Trump first.

The news that Donald Trump is facing a federal investigation over the removal of secret documents from the White House in 2021 came as no surprise.

Keen watches of the Washington soap opera have seen this playbook before, albeit in a different form.

There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a Washington outsider. But as seriously damaged as he may be (thanks to the events of January 6), his support base has only grown whenever he faces scrutiny.

For his supporters, his legal woes mirror their own relationship with the government – a giant, unfair beast that picks and chooses its fights.

Trump is accused of storing sensitive documents—including those concerning matters of national security—in boxes, some even in a shower.

The documents were seized last August when investigators from the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.

The Department of Justice has historically avoided charging people who are running for public office. Whether they should do that is a debate for another day. But it’s happening now. And it’s making it all too easy for Trump to claim there is a concerted campaign to get him away from the White House.

Trump exposed the deep state. IF they exist, they probably don’t want him back in power. Whether they exist doesn’t matter really, because plenty of Trump’s supporters agree with him, and believe the secret state is working against them. Call it QAnon, call it a conspiracy – it doesn’t matter in a democracy.

The DoJ now has to go all in. Failing to secure a conviction would be a serious embarrassment for the department.

This is the second time Trump has been indicted in recent months, yet the opinion polls show he only increases his popularity among MAGA and Republican voters. It leaves the Republican party in a difficult position. Support their leading candidate or support the law?

As other Republicans rallied around the embattled candidate, Trump held on to his loyal base of supporters.

For the Democrats, and for Biden, another reality will soon sink in – if Trump becomes President, and they lose office next year, how will a Trump-run DoJ deal with them?

Broadly, the tit-for-tat one-up-manship of U.S. politics is breaking tradition and potentially breaking the country.

 

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