The good news for Joe Biden? There are still 17 months until the general election. That could be enough time to move past some of his catastrophic mistakes. The bad news for Joe Biden? There are still 17 months until the general election. And that’s an awful lot of time to make more.
Not many candidates survive a week as disastrous as the former vice president’s. And if you ask a lot of strategists, there’s no guarantee Joe Biden will either. As far as Democrats are concerned, his flip-flop-flip on the Hyde amendment — one of the most stunning policy reversals in 40 years — may have single-handedly reelected Donald Trump. “One of the largest obstacles to the defeat of President Trump in the 2020 election is the radicalism of the Democratic Party on the issue of abortion,” Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post. “By forcing Joe Biden to abandon his support for the Hyde Amendment,” he goes on, liberals have given this administration its best chance at a second term.
“The problem here is not only that Biden appears weak and vacillating on an issue of conscience — which he does. Or that he will now be pressured to repudiate every hint of moderation in his 36-year legislative career — though he will be. The Hyde Amendment has played a particularly important role for Catholic politicians. It has allowed them to draw a distinction between permitting abortion and promoting it. Supporting the amendment has let them claim neutrality on abortion even while being effectively pro-choice. For Biden, this fig leaf is now removed. And seeing a 76-year-old man religiously and ethically naked is unappealing.”
For others, the shock wasn’t so much Biden’s betrayal — but what it reveals about the Democratic Party. “It’s troubling,” Richard Cohen mused, that the Left “is so intolerant of an opposing idea that it would doom a candidacy on that basis alone.” But then, this entire year has been a rude awakening for a lot of Americans who desperately wanted to believe that moderation still had a seat at the party’s table. Those illusions are gone, along with any whiff of Biden’s sincerity on abortion — or any other issue.
“He has put himself in an even worse position than Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign,” the Wall Street Journal argues. “I think he is actually toast,” “The Five’s” Greg Gutfield insisted. “I think that this is going to push him out the door.” Even in the press, the unofficial Biden fan club, the vice president went from legitimate contender to political cartoon. And why not? This is a politician who was talked out of four decades of conviction by the cast of “Who’s the Boss?” It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican: a man who gets intimidated by Alyssa Milano is not who most Americans want negotiating with Kim Jung Un.
Even the liberals who agree with Biden’s new position aren’t cutting him any slack. Deep down, even they recognize how important a compromise like Hyde is to his electability. That’s why, the Washington Post argues, “almost every Democrat in Congress has voted for legislation containing Hyde Amendment language, and according to research by [our] Mike DeBonis, that includes every Democrat running for president who is currently in Congress or previously served on Capitol Hill.” Hyde’s popularity is one reason the policy was never really an issue for either party until Hillary Clinton made it one three years ago. And we all saw how that turned out.
Even now, in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Americans don’t want anything do with the extremism of the new Democratic party. In fact, Axios explains, most people (89 percent) are well aware of the abortion debate playing out in state legislatures across America. “And they support the moves to enact strict new restrictions on abortion.” In Erie, “a few of our participants said [the restrictions] may actually make them slightly more likely, on average, to support Trump.”
The time is coming — and soon — when someone will ask Joe Biden about his stance on infanticide. Let’s hope he has a better answer.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.
EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.