Maureen Dowd | Joe Biden: Old Pol, New Tricks – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

“WASHINGTON — Joe Biden never had a seat at the cool kids’ table at the Obama White House.

Heading into 2016 and 2020, if you told the hotshots from Obamaworld that you thought Biden would be a good candidate, they would uniformly offer a look of infinite patience, tolerance and condescension and say something like, “Well, I could understand how someone would think that.”

The message was unmistakable: Biden was not part of the Obama entourage. He was sort of a goofball and windbag. He was a member of an older, outmoded generation. In other words, uncool.

The West Wing attitude was that Biden should simply be grateful that the Great Obama had handed him a ticket to ride. Biden was viewed as a past-his-sell-by-date pol who needed the president’s guiding hand to keep Uncle Joe from making a fool of himself as vice president.

In 2012, Biden faced “friendly fire” from the West Wing, as one outraged Biden family member put it to me back then. Obama aides were furious when Biden went on “Meet the Press” and made a glorious gaffe, blurting out support for gay marriage while his boss was still dragging his feet. They trashed him anonymously to reporters, froze him out of meetings and barred him from doing some national media.”

David Lindsay:  While this column by Maureen Dowd has some flaws, it made me smile, since I too think Obama was an pretty bad president. Obama was and is a great guy, but he was an inexperienced and cautious politician. One could even hold Obama accountable for the rise of Trump.  Obama wasted a lot of his political capital waiting for Godot, for the GOP to compromise and help him help the country. His emergency bailout and stimulus package was half of what was needed in hindsight, and he followed the wrong advisors at the time. He failed to put bankers and fraudsters from Wall Street in jail, taking the advice of Wall Street chiefs, and enraged many less fortunate Americans, hundreds of thousands of whom lost their houses as the sub prime mortgage market collapsed. He unwisely took Pelosi’s advice, and in his first two years when he had a Democratic congress, he put heath care reform ahead of infrastructure and jobs, and then with the obstruction of the GOP led by Mitch McConnell, his presidency was doomed. Nothing else of consequence happened, since he lost the house in the mid terms. We made or continued the big international trade agreements, but didn’t do the job of finding or making work for the Americans displaced by the competition of world trade and the move towards automation is US manufacturing. The anger in white working class America was volcanic, and unaddressed, since the GOP wouldn’t let any of Obama’s responses go through.

The last  item on my short list is perhaps the most controversial. Obama was shy in foreign policy in Syria. He failed to follow the advice of his Joint Chiefs Staff and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and make war on Bashar Al Assad, after he crossed an expressed US red line, and used chemical weapons on the farmers, protestors and rebels from the north, who protested the lack of government aid while they combatted a severe drought attributed to climate change. The rebels of Syria begged for at least a  no fly zone to protect their schools and hospitals. Syria had about 21 million people. It is now an ugly state with perhaps 5 million refugees, 6 million displace persons, and a half million casualties, and there is a group of analysts who think we missed an important opportunity to remove or handcuff  or limit Assad to his southern enclave. Trump removed almost all of just 500 US troops from northern Syria, where they kept the peace, and we then witnessed the slaughter of  our close allies the Kurds and the northern rebels,  both of whom were betrayed by Trump. It was mainly the Kurds who did the fighting to defeat ISIS, with our backing and air support. They lost over 10,000 soldiers in that war with ISIS in Iraq.

David Brooks | Joe Biden Is a Transformational President – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post, via Getty Images

“This has been one of the most quietly consequential weeks in recent American politics.

The Covid-19 relief law that was just enacted is one of the most important pieces of legislation of our lifetimes. As Eric Levitz writes in New York magazine, the poorest fifth of households will see their income rise by 20 percent; a family of four with one working and one unemployed parent will receive $12,460 in benefits. Child poverty will be cut in half.

The law stretches far beyond Covid-19 relief. There’s a billion for national service programs. Black farmers will receive over $4 billion in what looks like a step toward reparations. There’s a huge expansion of health insurance subsidies. Many of these changes, like the child tax credit, may well become permanent.

As Michael Hendrix of the Manhattan Institute notes, America spent $4.8 trillion in today’s dollars fighting World War II. Over the past year, America has spent over $5.5 trillion fighting the pandemic.

In a polarized era, the legislation is widely popular. Three-quarters of Americans support the law, including 60 percent of Republicans, according to a Morning Consult survey. The Republican members of Congress voted against it, but the G.O.P. shows no interest in turning this into a great partisan battle. As I began to write this on Thursday morning, the Fox News home page had only two stories on the Covid relief bill and dozens on things like the royal family and cancel culture.

Somehow low-key Joe Biden gets yawns when he promotes progressive policies that would generate howls if promoted by a President Sanders or a President Warren.

This moment is like 1981, the dawn of the Reagan Revolution, except in reverse. It’s not just that government is heading in a new direction, it’s that the whole paradigm of the role of government in American life is shifting. Biden is not causing these tectonic plates to shift, but he is riding them.”  . . .

It has become a covid lockdown tradition here for us on Friday night to watch the PBS News Hour with Judy Woodruff, and with analysis near the end by David Brooks and now Jonathan Capehart. Then Judy ends with a video collage In Memorium of 5 people who have died recently of Covid-19, with photos and stories submitted by their families. It is breathtakingly sad.
In the 7 or 10 minutes of Brooks and Capehart, Brooks usually summarizes his op-ed from that same Friday’s NYT in one or two sentences, which is quite a feat of discipline and taciturnity. And what a great column he wrote. (above)

Editorial | Joe Biden Takes Climate Change Seriously – The New York Times

“. . . .  All in all, a handsome batch of résumés, but résumés won’t match the urgent challenge ahead. How urgent? Just over two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s pre-eminent authority on global warming, warned that the world must transform its energy systems by midcentury in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, or risk widespread ecological and social disruptions — including but not limited to die-offs of coral reefs, sea level rise, drought, famine, wildfires and potential migrations of whole populations searching for food and fresh water. More pointedly, it stressed that the next decade was crucial, that emissions would have to be on a sharp downward path by 2030 for any hope of success, that there was no gentle glide path and that the world’s political leaders would have to take a firm grip on the emissions curve and wrench it downward in a hurry.

With that in mind, Mr. Biden pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and, along the way, eliminate fossil fuel emissions from the power sector by 2035. What this in turn is likely to require is set forth in a detailed Princeton study, summarized by The Times’s Brad Plumer on Dec. 15: a doubling, annually, in the pace of new wind and solar power; a huge increase in the number of new battery-powered cars sold every year, from 2 percent now to 50 percent of new sales by 2030, with charging stations to serve them; a big jump in the number of homes heated by electric heat pumps instead of oil and gas; and, necessarily, a vast increase in the capacity of the electric grid to handle all this clean power.

This transformation of the energy delivery system will not be achieved by regulation, although that will surely help, or, as some groups seem to believe, by simply ending hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas. What the Princeton study envisions is great amounts of new public and private investment, bigger by far than the modest energy-related tax breaks in the year-end spending and coronavirus relief package (which also, happily, included a provision that would curtail the use of planet-warming refrigerants called HFCs, thus bringing the United States in alignment with the rest of the world).

Extracting the necessary trillions from a potentially divided Congress is the tallest of tall orders. The betting now is on two possible legislative paths, maybe both: a stimulus bill with all sorts of green investments tucked into it, along the lines of the 2009 Obama stimulus but much bigger; and, after that, a big infrastructure bill targeted at projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Biden’s strategy is still in the making. But whatever path he chooses, progress in this still-fractured country will require all the energy and smart ideas his team can muster and all the negotiating skills Mr. Biden himself has acquired in a half-century of public service.” -30-

David Lindsay: Good editorial and comments.  Here is my favorite comment, of many good ones:

Woof

Let’s get to the bottom of climate change Americans , per capita, contribute to climate change more than any other Nation Country CO2 emissions per capita , tons

      US 16.56

       UK 5.62

France 5.19 I

    Italy 5.56

The French and Brits and Italians do not live worse than the US but pollute 1/3 as much as Americans To reduce climate change, the US , as a first step, need to tax gasoline on the EU level to discourage Americans from driving ever larger SUVs and Pick Ups It is that simple Joe Biden’s Climate Team Actually Cares About Climate it will start there

10 Replies155 Recommended

Frank Bruni | Can  Make American Politics Decent Again? – The New York Times

“I think it’s very hard to get back to the way things were,” said Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Senate Republican who voted to convict President Trump at the end of his impeachment trial. We spoke the day after the electors in the Electoral College formalized Biden’s victory.

One of the obstacles, Romney said, is a media environment in which different Americans now consume entirely different facts. “If you have 70 percent of Republicans thinking that Biden stole the election, that’s a hard hole to dig out of,” he said.

But if any president can make headway in this era of gall and grievance, it’s Biden. He was elected to soothe rather than stir, plod rather than strut, and by all appearances so far, he understands that.

Just look at his preternatural reticence in the face of Trump’s and other Republicans’ postelection provocations. Across much of November and December, reporters sought from Biden some howl of anguish, some fiery denunciation, and got oratorical oatmeal instead. He murmured metronomically that Republicans would eventually come around. It was unsatisfying but right. What would be accomplished by screaming the opposite?

Even when he finally took Trump and his Republican enablers to task in a speech on Dec. 14, he did so with an appeal for unity and a renewed pledge to work as hard for the Americans who hadn’t voted for him as for the Americans who had. His recriminations were measured and sandwiched between feel-good reflections on democracy.

Three days later, when he and Jill Biden were interviewed by Stephen Colbert, he remained impossibly placid and insistently positive as Colbert wondered about the ferocity with which Republicans were going after Biden’s son, Hunter. “It is what it is,” Biden said, assuring Colbert that no matter how unfair or overzealous Republicans’ effort, he would always try to work with them when Americans’ welfare was in the balance.

Times Editorial | Joe Biden Should Build on Common Ground – The New York Times

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Promises to pursue national healing and unity helped put Joe Biden in the White House. Americans embraced that vision. But the overall election results, with Republicans gaining seats in the House and possibly retaining control of the Senate, both exposed and increased the magnitude of the incoming president’s challenge.

In a nation so politically divided, making even modest progress on critical issues can be a slog. Mr. Biden will need to rally the public behind a Decency Agenda with broad-based appeal. That means first turning down the temperature of the culture wars, backing a policy agenda with broad public support and returning to constitutional norms that served the nation well for so long.

Common ground on policy is not terra incognita. The question is what to do with the common ground that’s already been scouted and surveyed. This effort can target the usual bipartisan suspects, like shoring up infrastructure and lowering the price of prescription drugs, but can also reach further afield, guided in part by the imperatives of the pandemic.”

Opinion | A Return to Decency – by Roger Cohen – The New York Times

“. . . .  This Biden makeover is all well and good, but the world has moved on, and the quest for the status quo ante cannot be the new president’s compass. Mr. Trump’s belligerence and Brexit have galvanized Europe in the direction of what Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has called “strategic autonomy.” For the first time, Germany has allowed the federalization of European debt, allowing the union to borrow like a government, an important step toward a stronger, more integrated Europe. It’s time for a “New Deal” between Europe and the United States that acknowledges European emancipation and shifting American priorities, while cementing an alliance of values and often overlapping interests.

Europe’s evolution has been evident in relations with China, which used to be purely commercial. Now, the expansionist China of President Xi Jinping is seen as a systemic rival.

The European Union has been critical of China’s human rights record, imposing sanctions in response to its repression in Hong Kong, and is rightly skeptical of Chinese boasts about its superior response to the pandemic. Still, European nations want to work with China. One of the major challenges for the West as the Biden administration takes office will be finding the sweet spot that confronts Mr. Xi’s China with firmness while avoiding outright confrontation.”

Editorial | A Debate That Can’t Be Ignored – The New York Times

By 

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“All Americans, whatever their political inclinations, should make time to watch Tuesday night’s presidential debate, and every minute of the two forthcoming debates.

President Trump’s performance on the debate stage was a national disgrace. His refusal to condemn white supremacists, or to pledge that he will accept the results of the election, betrayed the people who entrusted him with the highest office in the land. Every American has a responsibility to look and listen and take the full measure of the man. Ignorance can no longer be a tenable excuse. Conservatives in pursuit of long-cherished policy goals can no longer avoid the reality that Mr. Trump is vandalizing the principles and integrity of our democracy.

It’s a tired frame, but consider how Americans would judge a foreign election where the incumbent president scorned the democratic process as a fraud and called on an armed, violent, white supremacist group to “stand by” to engage with his political rivals.

The debate was excruciating to watch for anyone who loves this country, because of the mirror it held up to the United States in 2020: a nation unmoored from whatever was left of its civil political traditions, awash in conspiratorial disinformation, incapable of agreeing on what is true and what are lies, paralyzed by the horror of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and beholden to a political system that doesn’t reflect the majority of the country.

After five years of conditioning, the president’s ceaseless lies, insults and abuse were no less breathtaking to behold. Mr. Trump doesn’t care if you think he’s corrupt, incompetent and self-centered. He just wants you to think everyone else is just as bad, and that he’s the only one brave enough to tell it to you straight. It is an effort to dull Americans’ sense of right and wrong, making them question reality itself and, eventually, driving them to tune out.

Yet there was a new sense of desperation in Mr. Trump’s performance. He knows, as most observers do, that he is on track to lose the election. His solution to that predicament is not to reach out to more voters, like a normal president would.

Instead he spent the debate as he has spent the past several months: claiming the election will not be legitimate unless he wins. This threat to the democratic process is no less real because it is a threat made in public.

At one point the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, asked Mr. Trump if he was willing to condemn the white supremacists and right-wing militants who have grown emboldened under his administration — specifically, a group called the Proud Boys who have been involved in numerous street fights in the past few years. (“We will kill you. That’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell,” their founder said.)

It was the slowest, fattest softball a president could be tossed. Once again, Mr. Trump whiffed. “Proud Boys?” Mr. Trump said. “Stand back and stand by,” before pivoting to accuse left-wing agitators of being the true threat. (False, according to the F.B.I.)

The campaign tried to walk back the “stand by” comment on Wednesday, but a different message had already been received: “This makes me so happy,” one Proud Boy wrote in an online forum. “Well sir! We’re ready!!”

Mr. Wallace later asked both candidates to commit to respect the outcome of the election. The fact that such a promise needed to be extracted in the first place is alarming. More ominous was that only one candidate, Joe Biden, agreed to it. Mr. Trump used the opportunity to warn of a “fraudulent election,” falsely claiming that mail-in ballots would be corrupted — again, despite his own F.B.I. saying there is no evidence of any fraud in mail ballots. Undeterred, Mr. Trump called on his supporters to “go into the poll and watch very carefully” — in other words, to intimidate voters in areas where Mr. Biden is likely to draw more support.

Should all else fail, Mr. Trump said that the election will be decided by the Supreme Court — which will most likely have a full complement of nine members by Election Day. The court will “look at the ballots,” Mr. Trump said. It bears repeating that it is not the court’s job to decide the election.

No one handled himself perfectly on Tuesday night. But that acknowledgment is by no means an equivalence. Mr. Biden exhibited remarkable restraint given Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to actually debate.

As the dust settled, there were calls for Mr. Biden to skip the rest of the debates. That is an understandable reaction; Mr. Trump’s behavior makes it essentially impossible to have a civil, substantive conversation.

But that is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. Mr. Biden will show up for all of the remaining debates, and Americans should too. Donald Trump is their president. They need to face him, and the reckoning he has brought on the Republic.

Most of all, they need to vote. In person, by mail — however they can, and as soon as they can. Mr. Trump wants Americans to be either too disgusted or too afraid to cast their ballots. Throughout the nation’s history, tens of millions of Americans have been made to feel this way. They never gave up the fight for a fairer and freer democracy. Neither should Americans today. The best response to a would-be autocrat like Donald Trump, and the only way to begin to extricate the country from this long nightmare, is to show up and be counted.”

With Cross Talk, Lies and Mockery, Trump Tramples Decorum in Debate With Biden – By Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The first presidential debate between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. unraveled into an ugly melee Tuesday, as Mr. Trump hectored and interrupted Mr. Biden nearly every time he spoke and the former vice president denounced the president as a “clown” and told him to “shut up.”

In a chaotic, 90-minute back-and-forth, the two major party nominees expressed a level of acrid contempt for each other unheard-of in modern American politics.

Mr. Trump, trailing in the polls and urgently hoping to revive his campaign, was plainly attempting to be the aggressor. But he interjected so insistently that Mr. Biden could scarcely answer the questions posed to him, forcing the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, to repeatedly urge the president to let his opponent speak.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NY Times comment:
Thank you Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns for this excellent summary of a stomach turning debacle of a debate. My partner and I discussed the debate while walking off outside the knots in our stomachs. I thought that in any future debates, the moderator needs a partner, who can turn off the mic of any candidate abusing the rules of the debate. Future debates should have timed response times after each two minute solo, with mic control on duty to allow both sides to speak without interruption. I thought Biden could have done much better, if he had held his adult silence during Trump’s two minutes of insults and lies.
My girlfriend disagrees. “Hermione,” as I like to call her, thought Biden had to interrupt back, to show that he could not be rolled over. In the next debate, she thought he could remain silent, since he proved today he could counter punch with the bully. I remain with my opinion that Biden could have interrupted less last night, though always in revenge, and one commenter apparently agrees, who wrote, a stronger debater like Bill Clinton might have increased his lead by ten points.
My last point is that we should not cancel the next two debates until we see how the public through polling reacts to this first one. I predict that Trump hurt himself with plenty of voters last night, while Biden survived a public mugging, and made some important points well.

Warren Rolls Out a Bankruptcy Plan, Reviving an Old Clash With Biden – The New York Times

“Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday announced a plan to roll back provisions in a 2005 bankruptcy law, reviving a debate she had 15 years ago with Joseph R. Biden Jr., a United States senator at the time, over consumer protections and the credit card industry.

Bankruptcy is a critical part of the political origin story of Ms. Warren, whose new plan would make it easier for families to file for bankruptcy and increase accountability for creditors. A former law professor who studied the issue as an academic, she first went to Washington as part of a blue-ribbon commission to review related laws in the 1990s.

She spent a decade resisting industry efforts to tighten bankruptcy rules until such legislation, supported by Mr. Biden, passed in 2005 despite opposition from consumer groups, making it harder for many Americans to file for bankruptcy. She has portrayed the battle as something of a political baptism in which she learned firsthand about a broken American system influenced by money and power that she is now campaigning to overhaul.

But despite its central role in her life — and Mr. Biden’s position as the national front-runner for the Democratic Party’s nomination for most of 2019 — Ms. Warren has scarcely brought up her specific bankruptcy battles with Mr. Biden, which included testifying before his committee. In the plan she outlined on Tuesday, Ms. Warren would ease bankruptcy rules, allow students to declare student debt as part of any bankruptcy filing, and let more families keep their homes and cars while declaring bankruptcy.”

Opinion | Joe Biden Is Learning That Liberals Eat Their Own – By David French – The New York Times

By 

Mr. French is a senior writer for National Review and a columnist for Time.

CreditCreditKathryn Gamble for The New York Times

“As a conservative watching the Democratic debates, I found that one of the most astonishing aspects of the multicandidate assault on Joe Biden was that the case against him seems to be based in large measure on his role in two generations of Democratic victories. His “crimes” consist partly in playing crucial roles in the political successes of two previous Democratic presidents — men who were personally so popular that it’s entirely likely that they would have won a theoretical third term.

In key issue after key issue, Mr. Biden isn’t running against the failures of the past. He’s running against the arrogance of the present.

Let’s take, for example, his role in passing Bill Clinton’s signature anti-crime legislation, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Yes, it was tough on crime. It enhanced penalties; it expanded the death penalty; and it funded new police officers and new prison cells. It also included the Violence Against Women Act and an assault weapons ban that wouldn’t have a ghost of a chance of passing Congress today. Moreover, it did not play a material role in mass incarceration, which is a product mainly of state prosecutions, not federal law enforcement.

And what two additional elements do Mr. Biden’s critics miss? First, it was passed with overwhelming Democratic support (including a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus), which means that most of his present critics — had they been in office at the time — would have also voted for the bill.”