What We Learned From Yesterday’s Press Conference
Author: Greg Valliere
March 26, 2021
PRESIDENT BIDEN RAMBLED A BIT, but it was a calming non-Trumpian press conference, certainly adequate — with the aid of printed “cheat sheets” and the obsequious press corps. The highlight, in our opinion, was what we learned on policy. Some observations:
Filibuster: As we suspected, this was the big news. Biden is furious over the looming filibuster against voting reforms, and he worries that gun restrictions and his infrastructure bill could stall. So killing or modifying filibuster rules will become a dominant issue. For decades, Biden had been considered a supporter of Senate traditions — but not after yesterday.
Immigration: Biden clearly has sympathy for the plight of young immigrants, but he can’t change anything quickly, which makes him testy. There still doesn’t seem to be a clear plan, and without one Biden will be on the defensive. This issue is his greatest liability — and the Republicans’ greatest opportunity.
Geopolitics: Biden’s comments on China were predictable — he won’t allow Beijing to surpass the U.S., and human rights are a huge issue — but his rhetoric wasn’t as harsh as Trump’s. Biden essentially took a pass on North Korea and pledged to withdraw from Afghanistan, to the the dismay of Washington’s hawks.
Running again: Biden has to declare that he expects to run; to indicate doubt would make him an instant lame duck. We put chances of him running in 2024, at the age of 81, at 25%.
The press: So we have four more years of this? Two or three follow-up questions, mostly friendly? The press has an agenda; reporters apparently don’t care about Covid or higher taxes — there were no questions on either. And Peter Doocy of Fox News was shut out; he’s obnoxious but every press conference needs someone like him or Jim Acosta, the CNN pit bull who antagonized Trump.
BOTTOM LINE: We reiterate our mantra — Biden doesn’t have the votes, not enough to kill the filibuster, not enough to spend trillions on a Green New Deal, and not enough for huge new taxes. He will have to rely on winning public opinion, but yesterday’s press conference didn’t move the needle.
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