Joe Biden Has a Problem
My take: No matter how Biden tries to caveat his support for a long-standing measure barring federal funding for abortion, his position puts him at odds with his Democratic rivals for the nomination, leading abortion rights groups, and, most importantly, Americans who feel Roe and reproductive freedom are under assault.
The caveats: Barack Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress did not overturn Hyde as the law of the land; public opinion surveys generally suggest support for the concept embedded in Hyde; Biden is otherwise mostly in sync with support for abortion rights; and Biden’s campaign says he is open to revisiting the issue if abortion rights come under more siege.
The reality: None of those caveats matter to those who object on principle to Biden’s position, and the political dynamics going forward are as obvious as they are dangerous for Biden. His competitors for the nomination will continue to come after him hard on this. The press will push Biden to explain his complex position (something that does not play to his strength). And abortion rights supporters, especially young women, will now have grave doubts about the concept of Joe Biden, wire-to-wire frontrunner. Don’t underestimate the strong principles and emotions animating the opposition to Biden’s stance.
If you think this isn’t poised to be a full-blown crisis for Biden, read this paragraph from Danielle Campoamor in a Washington Post op-ed:
“If Joe Biden wants to carry the banner of a party that claims to champion, protect and uphold the inalienable rights of black, brown and poor people, he must reverse his support of the Hyde Amendment and follow the lead of his fellow Democratic candidates. Anything less would be the former vice president throwing under the bus the people whose support he needs most directly, at a moment when they are uniquely vulnerable. These positions may not stop Biden from getting the Democratic Party’s nomination. But they make him unfit to lead.”
Perhaps Biden will flip flop and change his position. That would create for him a new set of problems. It appears he is clinging to his long-held stance out of principle, not in some Sister Souljah move to help him in a general election by standing up to the left.
The danger for Biden here is much bigger than just his alienation from abortion-rights supporters. There already was an Iron Triangle wanting to knock Biden from his frontrunning perch: the other Democratic candidates, the press (which wants a competitive race to cover), and the Republicans, who need a contested primary on the other side to weaken the eventual nominee.
Now Biden has a fight on his hands with one of the Democratic Party’s most important constituencies, a fight that is filled with the symbolism and substance of all the doubts many progressives have about the former VP: that he is too tied to the past, too centrist, and too out of step with a changing and changed Democratic Party.
The fact that a new poll shows Biden topping Trump in Texas is washed away by that reality.
US-Mexico Tariff/Immigration Talks Continue
More mixed signals from Trump as Monday deadline looms.
My take: With border crossings and apprehensions reportedly surging, the House Republicans standing with Trump’s tariff threats, and the Mexicans looking to appease Trump in order to stave off the economic danger and save the broader North American trade deal, it appears the president might get a deal he wants and will back down.
But the greatest sign that Monday’s deadline might be delayed comes from this Washington Post reporting about a person who is generally as frustrated with Trump as Chuck Schumer is:
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has asked White House officials to postpone any decision until after Trump is able to personally hear lawmakers’ concerns, said two people familiar with the exchange…Such a scenario could require the White House to delay the tariffs.”
Pelosi Still Fighting Off Impeachment
My take: As the drumbeat for a formal inquiry gets louder, the Speaker likely needs to offer the left more than the status quo to keep the dam from bursting. The pro-impeachment forces want to be on a more clear track to impeachment hearings, as opposed to just “investigations that might lead to impeachment hearings.” Pelosi thinks she knows what’s best, and/but she also knows what the traffic will bear. Her allies still think she is right on the politics to avoid a formal impeachment process that would help Trump politically. But they also know she might have to change course if she can’t stop the momentum running against her. She needs a little luck to stave this off now, like some new storyline that unites the caucus.
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