Biden Resurgent

American Bald Eagle in front of flag looking fierce
Eagle Eyed

1 September 2022

The Remarkable Resurgence of Joe Biden

by J.R. Thomas

Anybody who writes for public consumption, or utters supposedly informed comment, ought to know better.  “Crisis, what crisis?”  or “It’ll all be over by Christmas” or “Don’t worry, there isn’t a hurricane on the way!”.  Or indeed, your very own correspondent’s cast-iron certainty that in November 2022 the Republicans would win control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Wrong, Jim Callaghan; wrong, both Sir John French and Bernard Montgomery; wrong, Michael Fish; and wrong, JR Thomas.  Well, not wrong yet as it is only August, but the prospects for the GOP are fading as the polls report increasing support for the Democrats and even for President Joe Biden.

What is going on?  There is not just one cause of this unexpected turnaround of political fortunes.  The trigger was perhaps the Supreme Court overturning of Roe Vs Wade, which reversed that decision that abortion rights were a federal matter rather than a state one, and seems to have caused a surge of support towards, perhaps not directly Joe Biden, but to pro-choice politicians, views which cross party lines to a surprising extent, but are seen more as a Democrat cause.  Oddly, of course, the Supreme Court was probably right in law – such matters under the constitution are properly matters for individual states, and Washington should be bold enough to legislate to change the law to permit choice, if it thinks fit.  But this is a subtle matter, and many voters see the court decision, coming from a conservative dominated court, as simply anti-choice, a theme quickly picked up by the President. 

The second factor and perhaps one that may turn out to be more significant, is the raid by FBI agents on Mr Trump’s private residence in Mar-a-Largo, during which they seized large amounts of documents relating to the ex-President’s term in the White House.  What has gone on and is going on is not yet clear, but there seems little doubt that Mr Trump, and/or his staff, had removed large quantities of papers relating to his time in office.  Such papers (and electronic communications) are not the property of former office holders; they are, as Mrs Clinton found out some six years ago, the rightful property of the people and their government.  In practice it is not unknown for such items to leave with departing presidents or secretaries of state, to be sorted, perhaps copied for autobiographical purposes, and then returned to federal archives without due delay.  It is certainly not usual for the FBI to go into presidential homes to get them back, and equally it is not usual for them to be kept in private locked rooms and not returned to Washington on request.  We do not know what the papers are, but we can be pretty sure that the seizure was thought about with great care and equally sure that they are not menus for state banquets or guest lists for receptions.

This is certainly the view taken by most politicians in Washington, and not just on the Democrat side of the House.  Significant numbers of the general public appear not to be sympathetic to Mr Trump taking the contents of government filing cabinets off to Florida with him.  Indeed, this seems in the living rooms of the USA to be taken more seriously than the shenanigans around the Capitol Building on 6th January 2021, which after all, Mr Trump says, was just a protest that got a bit out of control.  Marches and building invasions are one thing: theft of public papers may turn out to be another.

We cannot avoid another aspect of this.  Did Mr Biden know of the impending FBI raid (we mean, was he told, not was he told and forgot) and if so, did he approve it?  He almost certainly did know and would have approved it; it is a very serious matter to raid an ex-presidential residence (indeed, nobody can think of any comparable action though Mrs Clinton probably would have been raided had she not cooperated) and the possible repercussions are enormous, especially if these do turn out to be menu cards  We should perhaps say that Mr Trump was in New York at the time, and that whilst President he did have numerous papers destroyed (they had to be reconstructed), and that he perhaps takes a businessman’s view of paperwork rather than a state bureaucrat’s. 

But in spite of the huge success that Mr Trump is having in getting pro-Trump candidates as winners in GOP primary elections for the November midterm elections, the most senior casualty being the deselection of Liz Cheney in Wyoming, the Republican in the street seems to be having doubts. Two recent by-elections that were expected to go to the GOP were won by Democrats, and, coming back to our earlier point, in a Kansas referendum, the state voted for liberalisation of abortion laws, by a large margin, when commentators were expecting a narrow victory the other way.

So things are looking good for Joe, who has been suggesting that he does seriously intend to run again in 2024 – and not just because he does not want to become a lame duck President for his last two years of office.  Which, if the midterms prevent Republican control of both Houses, could yet let him achieve his dream of being a great radical president.  It’s not that simple though; the voting demographics of the seats to be contested in the Senate this November, meant it was always unlikely that the GOP would win a big majority – not that they need it, a one or two seat majority will be enough to block anything controversial.  In the House of Representatives things are the other way; the seats coming up are to quite an extent Democrat held but with “natural” Republican majorities, and were probable GOP gains, giving Republican control this time round.  It will indeed be very sweet for Joe if he retains a Democrat advantage there this time.

But he may also, being the highly experienced politician he is, be thinking what the Republican leadership in both Houses is thinking.  Might it be to the long-term advantage of the Republicans if they did indeed loose in November?  (Preferably, from a Republican perspective, by very narrow majorities so as to be able to block some of Mr Biden’s more outré ideas – such as enlarging the Supreme Court to block its current conservative majority.)

Bad results for the Republicans would be easily, and correctly, blamed on The Donald.  That should be the end of his Presidential comeback ambitions and the end of “Trumpism” (whatever that might be thought to be) and Donald’s influence over the Republican Party. The Republicans could go back to being a moderate middle of the road conservative low tax small government non-populist party; a new generation of GOP leaders could appear; and it is the Democrats that would start to look like a collective of mismatched eccentrics (anti-constitutional eccentrics if they try to interfere with the Supreme Court).

No wonder that there are few GOP protests in Washington or in state capitals about the raids on Mar-a-Largo.  The law must be seen to be enforced, many Republicans may be quietly muttering; and if their leaders had long grey beards, they would be gently stroking them now.

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