Yesterday, Joe Biden held a very long press conference. For the most part, Jennifer Rubin was impressed. She writes:
President Biden, while marking the end of his first year in office on Wednesday, met a press corps anxious to paint him as a failure. While conceding that his voting rights bill and Build Back Better package have both stalled, Biden stuck to one core theme: The economy and the effort to crush the pandemic are improving because of his administration.
Many of the questions from reporters verged on self-parody. Fox News’s Peter Doocy comically asked why Biden is pulling the country so far to the left. (Disclosure: I’m an MSNBC contributor.) The right-wing outfit Newsmax asked about his mental fitness for the job. It seemed everything was his fault, from Republicans’ refusal to support virtually any proposal to the fight between airlines and telecom companies over 5G.
Faced with his stalled infrastructure bill and his failure to end the filibuster on his voting rights legislation, Biden said he was going to shift strategy:
While he argued that his BBB plan would have helped to address rising prices, such as for child care and prescription drugs, he recognized for the first time that the bill may need to broken into “big chunks.” While he initially denied that he was going to “scale back” his ambitions, this suggested he was doing just that. He speculated that investments in clean energy and universal pre-K might get through, but that an expanded child tax credit and free community college would not.
And he asked the key question: What are Republicans for? The simple answer is that they are for nothing, Instead, he bluntly assessed his opposition:
He also humorously needled the Senate minority leader. “I actually like Mitch McConnell … but he has one straightforward objective: Make sure there’s nothing that makes me look good … with the public at large.” Again, he asked: “What’s Mitch for?”
He did have some trouble answering questions on Russia. Vladimir Putin understands weakness, and he chooses targets that are weak. This would be the time for him to move in on Ukraine. We'll see how that turns out.
But, for the most part, Rubin believes Biden put in a strong performance. No doubt about it, though. He has a tough row to hoe.
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