President Biden this week accomplished what America elected him to do — govern from the center and make deals that solve problems. Progressive Democrats don’t seem to like that cooperative spirit, which is a big reason their candidates keep failing to become president.
“The agreement represents a compromise, which means not everyone gets what they want. That’s the responsibility of governing,” Biden said last weekend in announcing the deal to raise the debt ceiling. It’s a defining Biden line.
The president’s congenital centrism is easy to criticize, especially in this era of hard, polarizing views. He’s a conciliator, a dealmaker who likes to say yes and has trouble saying no. He’s also risk-averse, and he avoids escalation when facing potential catastrophe, whether it’s war with Russia or a budget default.
But Biden’s critics miss the glaringly obvious fact that he is behaving precisely as he said he would. His inaugural address was a pledge to restore normal order. “I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy,” he said, but still, “we can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.”
Join forces with Republicans? Was Biden nuts? Yet gradually over the past two years, dodging brickbats from the left wing of his party, he has done it. First with a bipartisan infrastructure bill, then with a modest gun-control measure, then with the bipartisan Chips Act, and finally with the budget agreement. As Biden said on Wednesday, when the House passed the deal (it still must be approved by the Senate), “I have been clear that the only path forward is a bipartisan compromise that can earn the support of both parties.” [Continue reading…]