Should Biden Run in 2024? Democratic Whispers of ‘No’ Start to Rise. – The New York Times

“Midway through the 2022 primary season, many Democratic lawmakers and party officials are venting their frustrations with President Biden’s struggle to advance the bulk of his agenda, doubting his ability to rescue the party from a predicted midterm trouncing and increasingly viewing him as an anchor that should be cut loose in 2024.

As the challenges facing the nation mount and fatigued base voters show low enthusiasm, Democrats in union meetings, the back rooms of Capitol Hill and party gatherings from coast to coast are quietly worrying about Mr. Biden’s leadership, his age and his capability to take the fight to former President Donald J. Trump a second time.

Interviews with nearly 50 Democratic officials, from county leaders to members of Congress, as well as with disappointed voters who backed Mr. Biden in 2020, reveal a party alarmed about Republicans’ rising strength and extraordinarily pessimistic about an immediate path forward.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I’m still in Biden’s court, though he pissed me off when he didn’t pass the Infrastructure Bill immediately, and caved to the left wing of his party, which I blame for most of our self-inflicted wounds. Sanders would lose in a landslide in the electoral college. When Nate Cohn puts together his amalgam of national polls, we will know who is hot and who is not, in the six swing states, that will determine the electoral college outcome. It would be great if Buttigieg could win them all. I I’ll bet you a penny, it remains Biden as our best chance. If Ukraine runs out of ammunition, which is happening now, and falls, all bets are off.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | President Biden: What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine – The New York Times

Mr. Biden is president of the United States.

“The invasion Vladimir Putin thought would last days is now in its fourth month. The Ukrainian people surprised Russia and inspired the world with their sacrifice, grit and battlefield success. The free world and many other nations, led by the United States, rallied to Ukraine’s side with unprecedented military, humanitarian and financial support.

As the war goes on, I want to be clear about the aims of the United States in these efforts.

America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.

As President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said, ultimately this war “will only definitively end through diplomacy.” Every negotiation reflects the facts on the ground. We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.

That’s why I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Joe Biden, and bless you. I agreed to recommend many of the top accolade comments. But I want more. I would have preferred a sentence about how important our NATO allies are, and how they were not all reluctant partners. I would like to see NATO and the US lift the blockade of Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Asimov, even if that means removing the Russian navy from those bodies of water. While most of us agree, we want Ukraine to be able to win this war, some of us also want to do it soon enough, so there is something left of the Ukraine when they do finally expel the Russians.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of “the Tay Son Rebellion,” historical fiction about war in18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Bret Stephens | On Taiwan, Biden Should Find His Inner Truman – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“The White House insists that President Biden did not break with longstanding policy when, at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday with the prime minister of Japan, he flatly answered “yes” to the question, “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”

Don’t believe the diplomatic spin that there’s nothing to see here. Don’t believe, either, that the president didn’t know what he was doing. What Biden said is dramatic — as well as prudent, necessary and strategically astute. He is demonstrating a sense of history, a sense of the moment and a sense that, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, new rules apply.

American policy toward Taiwan for the past 43 years has been chiefly governed by two core, if somewhat ambiguous, agreements. The first, the One China policy, which Biden reaffirmed in Tokyo, is the basis for Washington’s diplomatic recognition of Beijing as the sole legal government of China.

The second, the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, is the basis for our continued ties to Taiwan as a self-governing entity. But unlike the treaties the U.S. maintains with Japan and South Korea, the act does not oblige American forces to come to the island’s defense in the event of an attack — only that we will provide Taiwan with the weapons it needs to defend itself.

Former presidents, including Donald Trump, have hinted that the United States would fight for Taiwan but have otherwise remained studiedly vague on the question. That may have once served Washington’s strategic purposes, at least when relations with Beijing were warming or stable.

But Xi Jinping has changed the rules of the game.”

Thomas L. Friedman | My Lunch With President Biden – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“President Biden invited me for lunch at the White House last Monday. But it was all off the record — so I can’t tell you anything he said.

I can, though, tell you two things — what I ate and how I felt after. I ate a tuna salad sandwich with tomato on whole wheat bread, with a bowl of mixed fruit and a chocolate milkshake for dessert that was so good it should have been against the law.

What I felt afterward was this: For all you knuckleheads on Fox who say that Biden can’t put two sentences together, here’s a news flash: He just put NATO together, Europe together and the whole Western alliance together — stretching from Canada up to Finland and all the way to Japan — to help Ukraine protect its fledgling democracy from Vladimir Putin’s fascist assault.

In doing so, he has enabled Ukraine to inflict significant losses on Russia’s invading army, thanks to a rapid deployment of U.S. and NATO trainers and massive transfers of precision weapons. And not a single American soldier was lost.

It has been the best performance of alliance management and consolidation since another president whom I covered and admired — who also was said to be incapable of putting two sentences together: George H.W. Bush. Bush helped manage the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, without firing a shot or the loss of a single American life.

Alas, though, I left our lunch with a full stomach but a heavy heart.

Biden didn’t say it in so many words, but he didn’t have to. I could hear it between the lines: He’s worried that while he has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America.

It’s clearly his priority, above any Build Back Better provision. And he knows that’s why he was elected — a majority of Americans worried that the country was coming apart at the seams and that this old war horse called Biden, with his bipartisan instincts, was the best person to knit us back together. It’s the reason he decided to run in the first place, because he knows that without some basic unity of purpose and willingness to compromise, nothing else is possible.

But with every passing day, every mass shooting, every racist dog whistle, every defund-the-police initiative, every nation-sundering Supreme Court ruling, every speaker run off a campus, every bogus claim of election fraud, I wonder if he can bring us back together. I wonder if it’s too late.

I fear that we’re going to break something very valuable very soon. And once we break it, it will be gone — and we may never be able to get it back.

I am talking about our ability to transfer power peacefully and legitimately, an ability we have demonstrated since our founding. The peaceful, legitimate transfer of power is the keystone of American democracy. Break it, and none of our institutions will work for long, and we will be thrust into political and financial chaos.”

Ezra Klein | Biden Has the Right Idea, but the Wrong Words – The New York Times

David Lindsay: I was unhappy with Biden’s speech last night, but it was late, and I had tennis at 6:30 am, so I went to bed rather than process my issues.  Ezra Klein apparently did not have to go to bed for early tennis, and he really connected some of my thoughts. My main critique was that he continued to want all of the above, instead of a narrow focus on mitigating climate change and rebuilding the middle class through manufacturing in America.  He has to get his program past Manchin and Sinema, to get it passed. I agree with David Brooks and others, James Carville, David Axelrod, and Stanley Greenfield, that you have to win over more white working class men in 4 critical states, if you want to carry the 4 swing states that determine whether the Democrats or the Trumpistas take over the White House.

Here is the end of Klein’s take on last night.

“. . . There are parts of Biden’s agenda that, if passed, could help to lower prices for families, rapidly. Medicare could negotiate drug prices next year. Child care subsidies could take effect quickly. There is no resource limitation stopping us from lowering Obamacare premiums. The same cannot be said for Biden’s more ambitious proposals to build the productive might and critical supply chains of the United States. To decarbonize the economy and rebuild American manufacturing and lead again in semiconductor production is the work of years, perhaps decades. It won’t change prices much in 2022 and 2023.

But it needs to be done, and not just because of Russia. Covid was another lesson, as America was caught without crucial supply chains for masks and protective equipment at the beginning of the pandemic and without enough computer chips as the virus raged on. And while I don’t like idly speculating about conflict with China, part of avoiding such a conflict is making sure its costs are clear and our deterrence is credible. As of now, whether we have the will to defend Taiwan militarily is almost secondary to whether we have the capability to sever ourselves from Chinese supply chains in the event of a violent dispute.

Biden devoted a large chunk of his speech to his Buy American proposals, which economists largely hate but voters largely love. As a matter of trade theory, I’m sympathetic to the economists, but as Russia is proving, there’s more to life than trade. You could see that in an analysis done by The Economist, which has long been one of the loudest voices arguing for the logic of globalization. “The invasion of Ukraine might not cause a global economic crisis today, but it will change how the world economy operates for decades to come,” it wrote. Russia will become more reliant on China. China will try to become more economically self-sufficient. The West is going to think harder about depending on autocracies for crucial goods and resources.

This was, in the end, the unfulfilled promise of Biden’s speech. Russia’s invasion and America’s economy were merely neighbors in the address, but no such borders exist. And connecting them, explicitly, would bring more coherence and force to Biden’s agenda.

Energy, for instance, is central to Russia’s wealth, power and financial reserves. Biden could have used that to mount a full argument for his climate and energy package, which is languishing in the wreckage of Build Back Better. As the energy analyst Ramez Naam has noted, Biden’s package would reduce American demand for oil and natural gas, both of which would weaken Russia — and plenty of other petrostates we’d prefer that neither we nor our allies were dependent on.

Helpfully for Biden, Joe Manchin seems not just open to this line of argument; he’s leading on it. “The brutal war that Vladimir Putin has inflicted on the sovereign democratic nation of Ukraine demands a fundamental rethinking of American national security and our national and international energy policy,” the senator said in a statement on Tuesday:

The United States, our European allies and the rest of the world cannot be held hostage by the acts of one man. It is simply inexplicable that we and other Western nations continue to spend billions of dollars on energy from Russia. This funding directly supports Putin’s ability to stay in power and execute a war on the people of Ukraine.

Manchin went on to say that “we must commit to once again achieving complete energy independence by embracing an all-of-the-above energy policy to ensure that the American people have reliable, dependable and affordable power without disregarding our climate responsibilities.” I do not claim to know what Manchin truly has in mind here or what he will vote for when the roll is called. But it is a door ajar, and Biden should step through it.”

Opinion | ‘My Fellow Americans’: Four Times Columnists Channel Joe Biden – The New York Times

David BrooksGail CollinsRoss Douthat and 

The writers are all Opinion columnists.

With President Biden delivering the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, four Times columnists summoned their inner speechwriter and imagined what they would like him to say. One or two hit a single note they thought the president should emphasize; others found a few chords that they wanted him to strike. The only ground rule for this experiment was that the columnists had to write in Mr. Biden’s voice, if not in his manner of speaking.

“My fellow Americans:

People always talk about the state of our union in these addresses. I’d like to talk about the nature of our union.

Lately, we’ve had a tendency to be bipolar about who we are. At some moments in our recent history we have thought we’re the greatest nation of the earth, with such awesome power that we can reshape the world in our image. At other moments we have lost faith in ourselves entirely. We’ve withdrawn. We’ve discarded the idea that America has any special mission to help champion freedom and democracy or that the American government can do anything good.

It’s like the adolescent who wakes up one day to discover that his parents aren’t perfect and therefore concludes they are terrible.

I’m hoping we can settle upon a mature estimation of ourselves, one that accurately accounts for both our gifts and our errors.

We Americans are the people who fought two wars that are now widely regarded as mistakes, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are also the people who staunchly contained the Soviet Union, so that when the time came, the people of Eastern and Central Europe could liberate themselves.

We Americans have fomented coups and supported dictators. We also led the fight against fascism and helped nurture democracy in places like Germany and Japan, which we conquered but never sought to own.

This skein of sin and heroism, guilt and virtue, runs through our history. Maturity is being humble and confident at the same time. Today, as Russia attacks and China grows more menacing, I hope we can humbly make it clear that we can’t change other nations in ways they don’t want to change but also confidently declare that the global weather patterns are fairer when the United States spreads the message of human dignity and supports the forces of democracy.

I hope we can humbly accept that history is complicated and we are not wise enough to plan it but also confidently remind ourselves that when the United States has stood with people like Winston Churchill and Volodymyr Zelensky, we’ve ended up doing a lot of good.

I hope we can humbly know that we are barraged by forces larger than us, like a pandemic, but confidently recall that we responded with a set of gigantic policies that helped ease the economic trauma and successfully brought our people through.

They say youthfulness is America’s oldest tradition. But it’s time we grow up and adopt a global posture that is humble about the means we use to advance our goals but is confident in the mission history has assigned us.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
I thought this whole column idea was in very poor taste. But to my surprise, it worked. David Brooks was brilliant as usual, and so eloquent that maybe the Biden team can use some of it. Brooks wrote, “I hope we can humbly accept that history is complicated and we are not wise enough to plan it but also confidently remind ourselves that when the United States has stood with people like Winston Churchill and Volodymyr Zelensky, we’ve ended up doing a lot of good.” This sounds to me like a call to war, which I agree with. I wrote three comments to the NYT this morning, calling for NATO to let in the Ukraine, and start really helping them fight off Putin and his armies. Gail was funny and I love her wit. Brett was strong, but not willing to shed blood or treasure for the Ukraine. Poor Ross was pathetic, He apparently hasn’t a single friend to explain to him that 8 billion humans are what are causing climate change and the sixth great extinction of species.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Ezra Klein | If Joe Biden Doesn’t Change Course, This Will Be His Worst Failure – The New York Times

“Ninety-five percent of Afghans don’t have enough to eat. Nearly nine million are at risk of starvation. The U.N.’s emergency aid request, at more than $5 billion, is the largest it has ever made for a single country. “The current humanitarian crisis could kill far more Afghans than the past 20 years of war,” David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, wrote recently.

And we bear much of the blame. We have turned a crisis into a catastrophe.

The drought in Afghanistan is the worst in decades. The Taliban is a brutal regime that has no idea how to manage an economy, and in many ways is barely trying. “Remember, the Emirate had not promised you the provision of food,” Mullah Muhammad Hassan, the head of the Taliban regime, said. “The Emirate has kept its promises. It is God who has promised his creatures the provision of food.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Ezra Klein. This is on point and simply brilliant. I am an early and vocal supporter of Joe Biden, but he is blowing this catastrophe, and this new disaster might well be the big regret of his life, like not intervening in Rwanda was for Bill Clinton.
Though I don’t pretend to be an expert of Afghanistan, I expect that the there is a 95% chance that the Taliban will be more disciplined and professional regarding the handling of their county’s funds, than the extremely corrupt government that we wasted two trillion dollars on. They might see the role of woman in an antediluvian manner, but so did we just a few hundred years ago. Klein is on to something big. If we starve this new, extremely old-fashioned and puritan Taliban government of resources, the massive starvation of the people will be on us.
We have to release all the money belonging to the Afghani people one way or the other, so the economy can start up again, or all the blood from impending starvation will be on our hands. No one is saying that the world is fair.
David Lindsay blogs at InconvenientNews.net, and is the author of “The Tayson Rebellion,” about 18th century Vietnam.

Paul Krugman | Mr. Biden, Your Good Economy Won’t Sell Itself – The New York Times

“Thirteen months into the Biden administration, Democrats face a troubling paradox. By many measures the economy has done very well, hugely outperforming expectations for growth and job creation. A record number of Americans say that it’s a good time to find a quality job. But inflation has spiked, consumer sentiment has plunged, and polls show that economic perceptions are currently a big liability for their party.

How should President Biden talk about this situation? Obviously he needs to acknowledge the inflation problem. But there’s a debate among pundits, and presumably within the party’s inner circles, about how much he should tout his achievements. Some commentators seem to believe that emphasizing the good news would be a mistake, that his best move would be to demonstrate that he’s in touch by acknowledging that things have gone wrong — that he should, in effect, ratify negative narratives about the economy.

Well, I remember the 1970s, and if you ask me, pundits calling on Biden to show “humility” seem to be suggesting that he should give a version of Jimmy Carter’s infamous “malaise” speech.

Furthermore, if Biden emphasizes the positive he will have reality on his side. I’ve been arguing for a while that the economy is doing much better than either consumer surveys or polling suggest. And two important new studies reinforce that case.”

Joe Biden and Peter Doocy Is the Rivalry Everyone Can Love – The New York Times

By Michael M. GrynbaumJan. 29, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ETAt first blush, the instantly viral hot-mic incident at the White House on Monday, in which President Biden called a Fox News reporter “a stupid son of a bitch” on live television, presented a grim object lesson about today’s political-media complex: When vulgarity happens, everybody wins.Liberal Biden fans cheered (“literal lol,” per the MSNBC host Chris Hayes). Fox News pundits pounced on a new grievance (“What a nasty old man,” said the host Tucker Carlson). Newspapers got clicks (The New York Times’s version of the story was among the most-read on the paper’s website) and cable news found fresh chum for its 24/7 news processing plant.But the spectacle of Mr. Biden lobbing an unintentionally amplified expletive at Peter Doocy, the fresh-faced Fox News reporter and a regular foil, also turned out to be one of the most unlikely feel-good moments of his time in office.

Bret Stephens | Biden Can Still Rescue His Presidency – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/18/opinion/biden-failed-presidency.html

“The view that the Biden presidency is flailing — and failing — has now moved from the opinion pages to the news pages, from right-wing criticism to Beltway conventional wisdom.

“With the White House legislative agenda in shambles less than a year before the midterm elections,” my colleagues Lisa Lerer and Emily Cochrane reported last week, “Democrats are sounding alarms that their party could face even deeper losses than anticipated without a major shift in strategy led by the president.”

Some of us have been sounding that alarm for months. What to do? Herewith, some suggestions for change:

1. The president needs a new team, starting with a new chief of staff.

The most surprising fact about the administration’s first year in office has been its political incompetence.

Why did the infrastructure bill languish for months in an intramural Democratic Party squabble? How did President Biden give his fire-breathing speech on voting rights in Georgia without first checking whether Kyrsten Sinema was going to cut him off at the knees? Why couldn’t the administration work out a deal with Joe Manchin on Build Back Better — and where was the political wisdom in having White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki publicly accuse him of breaking his word? Why has the president spent the year making overconfident predictions on everything from Afghanistan to migration to inflation? How was the coronavirus home test fiasco allowed to happen?