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Bipartisan Biden Continues to Be Better at Politics Than You

He ain’t taking your bait.
June 25, 2021
Bipartisan Biden Continues to Be Better at Politics Than You
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure deal at the White House on June 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden said both sides made compromises on the nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

While everyone in the Twitter and cable-news bubble is obsessing over panic porn, bemoaning the end of our democratic experiment, nitpicking the president’s mask messaging, and smearing him as a dangerous radical, “Average” Joe Biden is just plugging along, cutting deals, keepin’ his Trans Am shiny and his favorability rating above 50 percent.

I mean look at this chart. It is beautiful in its simplicity and steadiness.

(FiveThirtyEight)

Yesterday his political hot streak continued. Right at the moment that the fickle mainstream media was beginning to turn on him, declaring that “his prospects darken” (ominous) at home and that his unity talk had reached its limits, the wheelin’, dealin’, backslappin’ president showed up on the White House lawn with a bipartisan group of senators who were “almost shocking” in their “warmth and good humor” to announce that they had reached a deal on an infrastructure plan.

At the Huffington Post, Igor Bobic and Arthur Delaney lay out the current state of play on the terms of the deal:

The framework totals roughly $1.2 trillion over eight years, containing $579 billion in new federal spending on narrowly defined infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, airports and waterways. Its cost would be offset by a variety of revenue sources, but would not include any tax hikes. “We have agreed on the price tag, the scope, and how to pay for it,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said. “It was essential to show the Senate can function—that we can work in a bipartisan way.”

There remain significant ins and outs and what-have-yous before this framework becomes law; an announcement is not a bill signing. But even just an image of the divides being bridged reinforces how Biden can successfully stick to the same political plan that has improbably worked for him since he launched his campaign saying “the American people want their government to work . . . the country is sick of the division.”

For Biden, the good-faith attempt to live up to this promise accrues to his benefit politically, even if it doesn’t pan out. His bipartisan “we have a deal” press conference offers a stark contrast with the record of his boorish predecessor who, despite claims of being a dealmaker, rarely even brought legislators from the opposing party to the White House. (I remain astonished that Jon Tester, one of the most gettable Democrats in the Senate for Trump on a range of issues, had never been invited to the Oval Office before Biden took over.)

So now regardless of the outcome, when critics on his left flank claim bipartisanship is impossible, or bad-faith right wingers fabricate imaginary divisiveness, Biden will have the receipts.

Meanwhile his political opponents’ strategy continues to be…well…

Ah. Sticking with ye olde dementia attack, I see. That’ll do it.


But it’s not on just the infrastructure bill that Biden has shown deftness at keeping together his winning coalition. Consider how he has managed to hold his comfortable center despite many efforts to drag him away from it.

On Policing: “Defund the Police” Democrats are facing political problems across the country, as crime rises in the wake of the pandemic. So what does Average Joe do? Hold a press conference announcing $350 billion in COVID relief funds for local cops. He calls a local mayor to check in on police who have been shot. Meanwhile Kevin McCarthy won’t even meet with a police officer who was injured trying to protect him!

On Culture Wars: Do you know what Joe Biden thinks about what is being taught in the Loudoun County social studies class? Or about Victoria’s Secret new woke models? Or the Billie Eilish cancelation? Or any other stupid thing that they are talking about on Fox & Friends? No. Biden is a walking, talking “That’s Bait” meme.

Uh uh—he ain’t taking it.

On China: While Tom Cotton is fantasizing about Chinese Olympic DNA thievery, Joe Biden is working with Congress on a $250 billion bill to increase U.S. competitiveness with China in a variety of sectors. And he’s pushing our G7 allies to more aggressively counter the China threat.

And—oh yeah—we are closing in on getting 70 percent of the country vaccinated, with the country completely reopened before the Fourth of July.


So yes, this White House has made mistakes, and they have made some policy calls that aren’t my cup of tea, and there remain unaddressed challenges and yada yada yada.

But when it comes to delivering broadly center-left solutions, avoiding stepping on the landmines being laid out by partisans on both sides and delivering on his core promises of normalcy, competence, unity, and ‘building back better’ than Trump left things. . . . Well, Biden once again is beating expectations and proving all the naysayers wrong.

So let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Joe Biden doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s about 150 days in, and he seems to have the hang of it:

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump, communications director for Jeb Bush 2016, and spokesman for the Republican National Committee.