In Biden’s flat SOTU, he tries to un-burn bridges

February 13, 2023

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 7

  • Biden’s State of the Union falls flat
  • Conservative group won’t back Kari Lake
  • Republicans have another chance in NV-SEN next year


State of the Union: once you have referred to the other political side as “semi-fascist,” there isn’t much chance of a reconciliation. This is a lesson that apparently President Joe Biden never learned, If his state of the Union address is any indication.

Biden tried to hit all the right sympathetic notes about coming together as a nation. And these are things that Americans generally do want to hear their leaders say. But he seems to have missed the fact that most people, including most Democrats, do not want to come together behind him.

Fifty-eighy percent of Democrats do not want Biden to be their nominee, according to a recent poll by the Associated Press — one of many polls with similar findings. Republicans disapprove of him at a much higher rate, obviously. The nation wants to come together, but not around Joe Biden.

The Democratic Party is stuck with Biden, however, as we have noted previously, unless he surprises everyone and bows out for health reasons. All the left-wing talk about replacing him has fizzled out. For now, however, Biden’s main problem is that he cannot be both the president who turned his opponents into “fascists” and threats to “our democracy” and the president who wants to unify the country. At this point, the latter ship has sailed.

President 2024

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) will announce her presidential bid this Wednesday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is reportedly interviewing staff for a presidential campaign in key states, but he does not intend to announce until this summer.

Meanwhile, it appears former President Donald Trump hired the Berkeley Research Group in late 2020 to prove that his loss in the 2020 election had been the result of fraud in some or all of six states — Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada. The results were never released because the researchers did not turn up any such evidence.

Finally, a very early poll of the swing state of Nevada has both DeSantis and Trump leading Joe Biden in the Silver State, although DeSantis’s lead (six points); is much bigger than Trump’s (two points). Biden currently has a 55% disapproval rating in Nevada, according to the poll of likely voters, which was conducted earlier this month for the Nevada Independent.

Senate 2024

Arizona: If Kari Lake (R) runs for Senate, the Club for Growth will not support her. “We’d probably stay out of the race,” was how Club for Growth president David McIntosh put it. Lake’s loss of a very winnable race in 2022 obviously made her a much less attractive candidate, but so has her attempt to reitigate the election after she lost. At this very early date (Arizona’s primary is usually in August), Lake is the only potential candidate showing outward signs of wanting to run.

California: Rep. Katie Porter (D) has hilariously declared that, in the event of Sen. Dianne Feinstein‘s (D) resignation, she would like to see Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appoint a black woman as a temporary senator to replace her. But of course, she does not want the black woman who is running against her, Rep. Barbara Lee (D), to take the seat for the long term. She wants a white woman — namely, herself — to be the permanent senator. Because permanent Senate seats are for white women, even if temporary Senate seats can be set aside for black women. 

In other words, it’s all well and good to engage in woke virtue-signaling, until it gets in the way of your political career.

Nevada: Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) has only a 37% favorability rating at home currently, with 40% viewing her unfavorably, according to the Nevada Independent poll side of above. Republicans desperately need a win in Nevada for a change, and both the presidential and Senate races present them with real possibilities, assuming they can field a good candidate. Senate Democrats are likely to be on defense everywhere, so it would signify a terrible failure were they not to make this one a real race.

Senate 2028

Pennsylvania: Campaigners for Sen. John Fetterman (D) lied and lied for months about his condition, and he won his election last year. Now, after just a month in office, he has already had his first major health scare — apparently not another stroke, fortunately, but his office has been keeping the details about his condition close to the vest once again.

The ethics of running such a campaign or Senate office are a serious issue and have come front and center again. Hopefully, nobody will pressure Fetterman to risk his life unnecessarily again in the near future.

House 2024

Ohio: The election of a more conservative majority to the state Supreme Court should allow Republicans to keep congressional and state legislative maps similar to the current ones in place. 

The current maps and similar ones had repeatedly been struck by the old Supreme Court as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. But as the clock ran out for the 2022 election, a federal court ruledthat the current map could be used at least once. Now, a new map has to be drawn, but the new court is expected to be much more sympathetic to a map that looks just like the current one. Looming in the background is the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Moore v. Harper, which could bolster state legislatures’ powers with respect to the redistricting process. The high court may decide that courts cannot supplant the state legislature in redrawing the maps.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) blames both parties for refusing to compromise on the map. Contrast this with the map-making process in Florida, in which DeSantis pressed for a maximum Republican advantage but also produced a map that was geometrically and geographically bulletproof. The two states have very different systems for redistricting, but this is the difference between a governor who has national aspirations and one who doesn’t.