May 22, 2020

Campaign Update

“Joe Biden and the last rival he bested to become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Bernie Sanders, [last] Wednesday announced the members of joint task forces their campaigns will use to promote party unity by hammering out consensus on six top policy issues. They include New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will provide input on combating climate change and potentially become a key conduit between strong progressives who supported Sanders and backers of the more centrist Biden.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left urges Biden to offer more ambitious foreign policy ideas, and praises Abrams, Klobuchar, and Harris.

“Biden is a centrist in a certain way — he has historically positioned himself in the center of the Democratic Party… [And] The center of the party is a moving target… The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting massive surge in unemployment has moved American political discourse to the left: Ideas that would have been considered too liberal for most Democrats a few months ago are now being proposed by Republicans. And if American politics is moving left, expect Biden to do the same…

“Biden’s long record in public office suggests that he is fairly flexible on policy — shifting his positions to whatever is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party at a given moment. So if Biden wins the presidency and his fellow Democrats are still clamoring for more government spending to help the pandemic recovery, Biden is likely to be a fairly liberal president, no matter how moderate he sounded in the primaries.”
Perry Bacon Jr. FiveThirtyEight

“While the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to win over Bernie Sanders voters have pushed the Biden campaign to embrace a more ambitious domestic agenda, little evidence indicates that the presumptive Democratic nominee is doing anything comparable on international affairs. That’s a pity, because America’s relationship with the world needs dramatic rethinking too

“[The pandemic] offers Biden the chance to break out of the parameters established by his predecessors. As the national-security analysts Joseph Cirincione and William Hartung recently noted in The National Interest, the U.S. spends $740 billion a year on the military and $11 billion on global public health. Hospitals teeter on the edge of bankruptcy while the Pentagon spends about $500 million a year on marching bands. Biden could use these ghastly discrepancies to challenge the view that military spending can only be trimmed at the edges.”
Peter Beinart, The Atlantic

Regarding the Trump campaign's efforts to paint Biden as weak on China, it's worth noting that “Mr. Trump [initially] downplayed the risk of the coronavirus and heaped praise on President Xi Jinping. Fifteen times in January and February, Mr. Trump lauded Mr. Xi’s leadership on Covid-19…

“On strategic imperatives, Mr. Trump allowed China to ease pressure on North Korea and failed to counter China’s cyberaggression and expansionism in the South China Sea. Yet, he saved the Chinese pariah telecom firm ZTE because American sanctions might cause ‘too many jobs in China’ to be lost. Mr. Trump also eagerly enlisted China to serve his personal interests, most notably by pleading for China’s help in the coming election and allowing his daughter Ivanka to pocket plenty of Chinese trademarks. Given such a self-serving and shameful legacy, it will take some truly Trumpian Houdini tactics to tar Joe Biden with being weak on China. In reality, the opposite is true.”
Susan E. Rice, New York Times

Regarding Biden’s choice for VP, “It’s true that Abrams has been honest about her ambition to be in the White House. But really, what choice does any woman have but to make the case for herself, especially if that woman was, like Abrams, born outside the natural network of wealthy friends and influential relatives who could be doing her bidding for her?…

“Some men picked to be vice president, such as Al Gore and George H.W. Bush, had senator fathers with powerful associates, pushing them along their roads to success the whole of their careers. Nebraska-born Dick Cheney didn’t have that kind of network, but he literally picked himself for the job of vice president after the presumptive Republican nominee, George W. Bush, asked him to run his vetting process… Stacey Abrams likely won't be the next vice president, nor should she be. But she has changed the face of female ambition forever.”
Patricia Murphy, USA Today

“[Biden’s] choice may boil down to [Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar] and California Senator Kamala Harris… Despite the regional and racial differences, the two women have much in common. They both ran credible presidential campaigns and positioned themselves as moderates, which makes them ideological soulmates for Biden. Both women have won the political triple crown and served in elective office at the local, state and federal level…

“A Midwesterner like Klobuchar could help Biden win the battleground states in America’s industrial heartland. But there is more than one recipe for a victory meal in the Midwest. Biden also might help himself with an African American running mate like Harris who night gin up black turnout in Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee. A higher urban turnout would make a big difference in states that Trump barely won in 2016.”
Brad Bannon, The Hill

From the Right

The right criticizes Biden’s embrace of far-left policies, and sees Klobuchar as an effective choice for Vice President and Abrams as a poor one.

The right criticizes Biden’s embrace of far-left policies, and sees Klobuchar as an effective choice for Vice President and Abrams as a poor one.

These working groups could sow discord if Mr. Biden doesn’t shift far enough to the left… Many of the members picked by Mr. Sanders have extreme views. Varshini Prakash, a co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement, which has led the push for the Green New Deal, serves on the climate committee. Sunrise wants to end fracking immediately, ban drilling in federal waters and on federal lands, prohibit exports of oil and natural gas, and set a 10-year timetable to phase out all oil and gas drilling permanently. This is a political middle finger to not only Texas, but Pennsylvania, too…

“Mr. Biden is surrounded by a smart team, led by campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon and longtime adviser Mike Donilon. They’re making a risky, possibly unnecessary bet to give their recently defeated adversaries on the left a large role in defining Mr. Biden’s agenda. We’ll see how their experiment in party unity works out.”
Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal

“Throughout his career, Biden has moved to the left as Democratic politics changed. This is most clearly seen in his mutating stances on abortion. He began his Senate career as an abortion opponent… Today, he staunchly backs Roe

“In the 1970s, he worked with segregationist Southern Democratic senators to oppose mandatory busing… Now, he wants to get rid of restrictions on busing. He was against gay marriage in the 1990s, for it in 2012. He advocated increasing the Social Security retirement age; pushed for making sentences for possessing crack much harsher than those for having cocaine; and supported the Iraq War — all of which he has changed his mind on…

“Genuine centrists should be concerned about this well-established pattern. If they back Biden, will they genuinely get someone committed to prudence and national unity? Or will they get someone whose overriding passion is to be acclaimed by his party no matter [what] he has to say to win the applause?”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

Regarding Biden’s choice for VP, “If selected, [Abrams] would displace Sarah Palin as the least-qualified person ever to serve on a major-party ticket… At least Palin won her race for Alaska governor. Abrams’s claim to fame is that she lost Georgia’s governor’s race in 2018. Indeed, she has never won a statewide race. The highest office she has ever attained is minority leader of the Georgia state House of Representatives, a part-time legislature…

“According to her official bio, her foreign policy experience is serving as a ‘former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations’ (a temporary membership for young people) as well holding… a string of fellowships that might qualify her for an entry-level research job at a think tank. She is an accomplished author — not of foreign policy treatises, but of romantic suspense novels… McCain later said he regretted picking Palin as his running mate. Biden would similarly regret choosing Abrams.”
Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post

“President Trump has rewritten the rules of political experience, yet it’s still a stretch to imagine someone who has only served in the Georgia legislature — and as a state representative, not even a senator — is ready to become leader of the free world. Even Pete Buttigieg has more executive experience…

“Abrams can reasonably boast of an ability to stoke turnout among minority and young voters — she won more votes than any statewide candidate in Georgia ever. But given her high-octane progressivism, she’d have limited appeal to working-class swing voters and suburban women. By picking her, Biden would also be undermining one of his chief arguments, namely, that he’s a low-risk, experienced, steady hand. This means that Abrams is likely to be passed over — and, if the past is any guide, conclude that she got robbed.”
Rich Lowry, New York Post

“The first rule of running mates is to do no harm. That tenet alone gives Klobuchar an extraordinary advantage… Like Biden, Klobuchar supports codifying Roe v. Wade but crucially supports late-term abortion restrictions… Similarly, Klobuchar hasn't made herself a liability by backing 2020 trends du jour such as court packing, wealth taxes, abandoning Israel, Medicare For All, or the Green New Deal…

“And perhaps most importantly, Klobuchar has already proven she's electable. Clinton won Minnesota by just one point in 2016, but Klobuchar routinely wins reelection in the solidly purple state by more than 20 points. It's not hard to imagine that battle-tested appeal translating to Michigan, Wisconsin, and maybe even Pennsylvania… if you're trying to prevent alienating the Democratic base and win over the voters who sat out 2016, Klobuchar's not a bad bet.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

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