Could ‘Tacking to the Middle’ Pave Biden’s Road to Victory? Don’t Bet on It.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

President Joe Biden has a major obstacle on his road to re-election. That obstacle? President Joe Biden.

The guy is his own worst enemy. He stumbles, he mumbles, he whispers, he shouts; he forgets names, gets lost on the White House lawn, and generally seems to have very little idea of what is really going on all around him, which not only leaves policy decisions up to his staff – who seem rather less capable than a one-legged man in a sack race but also makes it impossible for old Joe to cast himself as an everyday-guy moderate.

Speaking of which: Democratic strategist Liam Kerr, writing at CNN, has a brilliant plan to resurrect the Biden campaign’s flagging fortunes: Tack back to the middle and reach across the aisle for some moderate Republicans.

There’s only one problem with this advice: It’s bollocks.

The biggest obstacle to President Joe Biden’s reelection is not that polls show sharp declines in support among important Democratic demographic groups from 2020 to today. It’s denying this reality.
Biden’s executive action Tuesday to limit asylum seekers at the border in spite of progressive opposition gives hope that he is taking the blinders off and course-correcting. But much more must be done and, as with most change, it’s important to start by admitting there’s a problem.

Oh, there’s a problem, but it’s not asking for a course correction. The border move – and it was a crap move, full of loopholes, as my colleague Mike Miller points out in a VIP post – was not an act of Joe suddenly realizing, “Oh, I’ve let these kid staffers drag me too far to the left.” It’s an act of desperation, almost certainly foisted on the increasingly befuddled president by staffers who are looking to keep their comfortable White House gigs.

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Kerr continues:

There are some initial signs Biden understands what needs to be done and is beginning to pivot despite his rosy view of the polls. Tuesday’s border action echoes Trump on a major issue on which Biden has been mired deeply underwater. A Gallup poll in April found that, for the third month in a row, immigration was the top problem facing the country. Only 37% of Americans approved of his performance on the border while 61% disapproved.
Progressives predictably expressed frustration with Biden’s move on the border, but it would be a mistake for the Biden campaign to be swayed by these voices. Biden bested a wide field for his party’s nomination in 2020 by building on a career in the political center and resisting his party’s left flank. Since winning the nomination, however, Biden has embraced too many policies on the left.

After three and a half years of mouthing every progressive shibboleth in the book, it’s a stretch to think that even the most credible voter would be swayed by this sudden turnabout. This has been the farthest-left administration in living memory – a memory that includes Barack Obama – and it’s not credible to think that Old Joe, at this juncture, will suddenly walk through a magical Epiphany Screen and come out of it reborn as a sensible, aw-shucks moderate.

For that matter, it’s doubtful that any magical treatment could restore him to what brains and acumen he had in his prime, which honestly wasn’t all that much.

Joe Biden’s worst enemy is himself – and his second worst, his advisers. But any course change at this point in the game is far more likely to be perceived as a self-serving, desperate, last-minute toss of the dice, rather than a principled change of position. And those kinds of things rarely win elections.


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