Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Status Quo Joe Return To "Normalcy"-- A Disaster Waiting In The Wings


Does a "return to normalcy" sound like a good idea after 4 years of Trumpism? It may sound vaguely tempting but it's anything but a good idea. The kind of "normalcy" Biden's campaign is based on is precisely the "normalcy" that plowed the field for the insidious growth of Trumpism. We spent a lot of time writing about that in 2019 and yesterday so did Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen at Politico: Joe Biden's secret governing plan. Team Biden is already putting a potential cabinet together. "Biden advisers," they wrote, "describe a Return to Normal plan-- a reversal of President Trump's unorthodox, improvisational style. Biden wants known, trusted people around him-- many from the Obama years." Although there are a couple of exceptions, most of the names are at the root cause of Trumpism. Here's the Politico list:
John Kerry would love to take a new Cabinet position devoted to climate change, or might even accept a curtain call to return as secretary of state.
Susan Rice, formerly President Obama's national security adviser, is another option for State.
Mike Bloomberg, who swiftly endorsed Biden after the former mayor's campaign collapsed, would be a top possibility to head the World Bank.
Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general under Obama who stood up to Trump and was fired, would be a leading contender for attorney general.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Treasury secretary could help unite the party.
Jamie Dimon-- chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and mentioned over the years as a potential presidential candidate-- would also be considered for Treasury.
Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America, is another possibility for Treasury.
Who would be more like Harding Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon? Not Elizabeth Warren, that's for sure.

They also will toss something over to Mayo Pete, "perhaps as ambassador to the UN, or as U.S. trade representative," either helping to "credential Buttigieg for a future national campaign."

And in the mix for VP, according to VandeHei and Allen, are Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris (if not Attorney General), Cory Booker, Deval Patrick, Stacey Abrams, Amy Klobuchar, Tammy Duckworth, Val Demings... "One adviser told us when we asked who the V.P. pick would be: 'Whoever Jim Clyburn wants it to be.'"

They also note that the chief of staff "would likely be Ron Klain, who held that job for him when he was veep." And Michèle Flournoy, an Obama undersecretary of defense, would be the favorite to run Biden's Pentagon.
Biden, a throw-back institutionalist, relishes an emphasis on governing, norms and restoring alliances. That includes respect for experts, and for the art and science of governing. This evolving plan is all in Biden's comfort zone-- all meant to send a public signal of stability.

Remember, Harding, who ran on a platform that could be boiled down to "A Return To Normalcy," won in a landslide and was once extremely popular. Today his short stint in the White House-- he won in 1920 and died in 1923-- is routinely considered one of the 3 worst presidencies in history.

What Biden's campaign represents is the status quo ante-- the normalcy of the time before Trump... when Obama (and Biden, more or less) were inadvertently laying the ground for Trump with their centrist agenda. Biden wants to re-embrace that agenda today. He seems to have persuaded himself that his "great relationships" with Senate Republicans will make the country a better place and that it will all be one great big Grand Bargain of he's in the White House. Was he not milking those relationships while the Senate was screwing over the Obama-Biden administration? He seems to have forgotten that Merrick Garland was another of many, many, many examples of the Obama administration moving right to compromise with the Republicans, who would then just move the goal posts further and further right. Garland was more like a mainstream Republican nominee than a Democratic nominee. Obama, offered him as a compromise to replace Scalia. And now Biden is saying he'd nominate him again if he had the chance-- the ultimate in an utterly clueless status quo ante vision.

And with sizable majorities of Americans favoring raising taxes on the wealthy so that they start paying their fair share, where does Biden go? Back to the already way too low rates under Obama. Forget AOC's proposal for a top marginal rate of 70%... Biden told Chris Cuomo on CNN that he'd like to raise the top rate to 39.5% and take the corporate rate from 21% to 28%.

Whatever the question or the topic, State Quo Joe wants to take it back to the way it was under Obama. Medicare-For-All makes no sense to him-- just tweaking an entirely inadequate Obamacare system that was always just a weak incremental first step towards universal healthcare anyway.

Warren G. Harding ran on many of the same premises that make, at least to pundits and other status quo Democrats, a "compelling" case for Biden. In the 1920 campaign, "A Return to Normalcy," was a reference to what life was like before the disruption of the Great War (World War I). Here's how Harding made his case: "America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality." As expected, Biden is making a similar case based post-Trumpist disruption to the status quo.

By the way, the 1922 midterms were a complete disaster for the GOP because of Harding's pro-business/pro-rich people policies. The Republicans lost a mind-boggling 82 seats in the House and 8 Senate seats. Harding died (age 57) a few months later. If Biden is elected I'll predict right now that he will be an even worse, though similar, president than Harding.

As Chris Hedges noted yesterday, "There is only one choice in this election. The consolidation of oligarchic power under Donald Trump or the consolidation of oligarchic power under Joe Biden. The oligarchs, with Trump or Biden, will win again. We will lose. The oligarchs made it abundantly clear, should Bernie Sanders miraculously become the Democratic Party nominee, they would join forces with the Republicans to crush him. Trump would, if Sanders was the nominee, instantly be shorn by the Democratic Party elites of his demons and his propensity for tyranny. Sanders would be red-baited-- as he was viciously Friday in the New York Times’ 'As Bernie Sanders Pushed for Closer Ties, Soviet Union Spotted Opportunity'-- and turned into a figure of derision and ridicule. The oligarchs preach the sermon of the least-worst to us when they attempt to ram a Hillary Clinton or a Biden down our throats but ignore it for themselves. They prefer Biden over Trump, but they can live with either. Only one thing matters to the oligarchs. It is not democracy. It is not truth. It is not the consent of the governed. It is not income inequality. It is not the surveillance state. It is not endless war. It is not jobs. It is not the climate. It is the primacy of corporate power-- which has extinguished our democracy and left most of the working class in misery-- and the continued increase and consolidation of their wealth."
The Democrats will once again offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or nothing to thwart the march toward corporate totalitarianism. What the public wants and deserves will again be ignored for what the corporate lobbyists demand. If we do not respond soon to the social and economic catastrophe that has been visited on most of the population, we will be unable to thwart the rise of corporate tyranny and a Christian fascism.

We need to reintegrate those who have been pushed aside back into the society, to heal the ruptured social bonds, to give workers dignity, empowerment and protection. We need a universal health care system, especially as we barrel toward a global pandemic. We need programs that provide employment with sustainable wages, job protection and pensions. We need quality public education for all Americans. We need to rebuild our infrastructure and end the squandering of our resources on war. We need to halt corporate pillage and regulate Wall Street and corporations. We need to respond with radical and immediate measures to curb carbon emissions and save ourselves from ecocide and extinction. We don’t need a “Punch and Judy” show between Trump and Biden. But that, along with corporate tyranny, is what we seem fated to get, unless we take to the streets and tear the house down.

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At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just having some peace and quiet sounds fine to me. Hopefully after Bernie (who I voted for) gets trounced in Michigan and Florida, he will join the blue team in winning the Senate and taking out the Oval Office trash. Then we can get on with the progressive program.

At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:06, apparently, read this and still could not help himself in proving my own diagnosis of the electorate.

we saw this in 2008-2010 before. obamanation (hopey changey) and democraps won big, mostly because of black voter turnout, and then refused to do shit. 2010 was a bloodbath and, suddenly, even if obanamation and democraps wanted to do something, the Nazis blocked it (thanks also to harriet reid's use of cloture to give the Nazi minority the power of majority rule).

The harding parallel is missing the teapot dome thing. could have done something with that. After all, no democrap nominee has ever been this corrupt. Or perhaps that little nugget of historical info was deemed a bridge too far for an electorate like 5:06... I think you may be correct.

Like I've been saying for 40 years now, when an electorate is this fucking stupid, how can any kind of democracy be any good? answer: it's gonna suck. period.

step on rake. come to. repeat.

At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:06 you are utterly delusional

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can add is that no matter how bad Trump is, why would I vote for someone forced on me by the "opposition" party, someone who has declared that "nothing is going to fundamentally change"? This means that the only change from a terrible Republican government is the label pasted over the word "Republican" by "Democrats".


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