For the next month, the DC Diary will be written by a rotating cast of Spectator editors. Today’s author is Matt Purple. 

Biden takes off the gloves (were they ever on?)

Politico reports this morning that Joe Biden is finally ready to take off the gloves. Biden has reportedly all but given up on working with Republicans in Congress, whom he now regards as a pack of obstructionists and MAGA retreads. This is much to the delight of his staff, which has been pressing him to go on the attack.

“I never expected the ultra-MAGA Republicans who seem to control the Republican Party now to have been able to control the Republican Party,” Biden admitted last week.

To be sure, the GOP’s aggressive dedication to Trumpism, if not to Trump himself, hasn’t gone away. It’s also true that Biden has been a more consensus-oriented Democrat than, say, Nancy Pelosi, who seems to relish steamrolling the other side. Biden was in the Senate for almost forty years; the relationships he forged with Republicans weren’t just going to vanish.

But Biden has hardly been a paragon of bipartisanship. Back in January, he compared Republicans who opposed a federal takeover of voting laws to segregationists, a salvo his press secretary Jen Psaki later called “powerful.”

And even when Biden has made an effort to work with Republicans, it’s usually meant whipsawing them into supporting a slightly less expensive version of his agenda — like the $2 trillion Build Back Better climate overhaul. It was Democrat Joe Manchin who ultimately killed that package. And that’s just it. Biden’s political problem is bigger than just the GOP. It also cuts through certain rural and suburban moderates in his own party whom he needs to pass legislation.

There’s a trope among ideologues that anytime a candidate on their side falters, it must because they didn’t fight hard enough — “conservatism wins every time it’s tried,” as Rush Limbaugh used to say. Sometimes that’s true; sometimes it isn’t. But either way, the White House appears to be succumbing to the succumbing to the temptation to double down. Will more broadsides against Republicans save Democratic majorities in 2022? Given the price of gas, right now it doesn’t look like it.

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Biden heads to Buffalo

Speaking of Joe Biden, he heads to Buffalo today where he’ll give an address mourning the victims of the latest mass shooting at a Tops grocery store. Policy questions abound, first of all on guns, an issue that was part of Biden’s portfolio during the Obama administration.

Biden’s administration has lately been cracking down on so-called “ghost guns,” firearms without serial numbers that are difficult to trace. In Buffalo, Biden will reportedly issue a call for more sweeping gun control, specifically to “keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who have a serious mental illness.”

The problem is that New York state already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. They include so-called “red-flag” statutes, which allow law enforcement or family to petition to have someone suspected of being a risk to be barred from owning a firearm. No red-flag request was filed in the case of Buffalo shooter Peyton Gendron.

The more trumpeted (and perhaps more politically fertile) angle has to do with racist hate speech and the right’s supposed flirtation with white nationalism. Gendron was unquestionably a bigot who subscribed to the so-called Great Replacement theory, which holds that immigrants and racial minorities are trying to replace whites.

Democrats have seized on quotes from Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham to suggest they believe the same thing (Gendron’s manifesto mentions Fox once in passing and only to malign Rupert Murdoch for supposedly being a Jew). New York Governor Kathy Hochul, meanwhile, has called for internet hate speech to be censored.

Will Biden’s taking off the gloves mean he follows along? We’ll find out.

Super-special ultra-MAGA Tuesday

It’s election night here in America (cue Sting music) and the big question is whether the Republican primary candidates endorsed by Donald Trump will continue his winning ways.

Yet there are other narratives in play. One is whether Trumpism has become detached from Trump himself, as “ultra-MAGA” Kathy Barnette surges in Pennsylvania’s Senate race despite Trump having backed Dr. Mehmet Oz. Another is whether right-wing firebrand Madison Cawthorn can survive in North Carolina (very likely, given that he has seven primary challengers). Still another is which Democrat will win the nom for Oregon’s open governor’s seat, the progressive former state legislator Tina Kotek of Portland or the reformist state treasurer Tobias Read.

What you should be reading today

Peter Van Buren: The horror in Buffalo is not an excuse to censor
Ann Coulter: Good riddance, Harriet Miers
Taylor Millard: Say no to Democrats’ latest attack on Big Tech
Kevin Williamson, National Review: The Buffalo blame game
Andrew Prokop, Vox: Democrats worsened inflation, but by how much?
Robby Soave, Reason: Will Republicans screw up the school choice moment?

Poll watch

President Biden Job Approval
Approve: 41.8 percent
Disapprove: 53.3 percent
Net approval: -11.5 (RCP Average)

Pennsylvania Republican Senate Primary
Dr. Mehmet Oz: 29 percent
Kathy Barnette: 27 percent
David McCormick: 22 percent
(Trafalgar Group)

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