Summer hopes of a Democrat resurgence have faded into fall’s much colder grip and the reality of the coming bloodbath is beginning to set in. The result is a President lashing out at a huge segment of the population and the media trying to spin a narrative of success out of abject failure. Voters are not likely to be fooled.
A short month ago, the mainstream media had convinced itself that the upcoming midterm elections were looking surprisingly good for Democrats. President Biden had mounted an epic political comeback in their view, passing world-changing legislation, and a controversial Supreme Court decision on abortion had further upended the political landscape in favor of Democrats. Former President Donald Trump had also retaken the center of the political stage after the unprecedented raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, and the GOP in general had picked a slate of weak candidates such as Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Hershel Walker in Georgia. The headlines surrounding these developments were legion, coming as fast and furious as Democrat-advocates in the mainstream media could write them. The New York Times opined that “Trump and Abortion Shift Narrative for Midterm Elections” (one month ago) and “Why Things May Really Be Different for This Midterm Election” (two weeks ago). NPR was slightly less bullish, noting that “Abortion and inflation collide as top issues.” The Guardian pondered whether “unexpected Democrat gains” could “foil a midterm Republican victory?” Meanwhile, NBC reported on “the signs Republicans’ hopes for a ‘red wave’ are receding,” claiming that “in recent weeks, numerous data points have indicated Republican prospects of a smashing victory are dimming. While the president’s party tends to perform poorly in midterm elections, there are signs it is shaping up to be an unusual year, potentially enabling Democrats to hold one or both chambers of Congress.” These signs included an unexpected though slim Democrat victory in a special election, “persuadable voters…trending towards Democrats,” the “GOP’s ‘enthusiasm’ edge…shrinking,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “downplaying expectations in the Senate,” “Republicans…cutting ad spending,” and “Biden’s approval maybe ticking up.” In conclusion, “just 70 days from Election Day, Democrats see some hope of defying historical midterm trends against the party in power.”
More recently, however, summer hopes have faded into fall’s much colder grip and the reality of the coming bloodbath is beginning to set in. Senate races where Republicans appeared to be performing poorly have suddenly tightened up, including Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Maybe candidates with star power and charisma might not be so bad after all. Ohio and Florida now look like easy holds for Republicans as well. There are even recent polls showing Washington of all places could be in contention, with incumbent Senator Patty Murray holding a scant two point lead against her opponent. Real Clear Politics currently projects 2 picks up in the Senate for the GOP. They need one to take control of the chamber, and when you consider the site uses a rolling average with some older polls mixed in, the number might grow significantly as election day approaches. Real Clear’s projections also indicate the battle for Congress is close to decided. They have 218 seats locked in for Republicans, which would give them a majority of the chamber for the first time since 2018. Thirty three races are currently toss-ups according to their models, but the model itself is based on an anticipated voter turnout that favors the Democrats by a tight 1%. If a recent poll is any indication, the actual turn out will favor the Republicans by a much wider margin. ABC News and The Washington Post found a likely voter turnout of close to plus five for Republicans, which would be among the highest in history. Polls taken during a similar period all show higher Republican turn out than what the pundits were expecting a few short weeks ago. If these numbers are accurate, we’re looking at 1994 and 2010 type waves that could net the Republicans 50 or more seats in the House and likely several in the Senate. Republicans enjoyed a 19 point lead on dealing with inflation, a 16 point lead on the economy, and 14 points on immigration. Democrats lead on education, abortion, immigration, and climate change, but the real anchor around their necks appears to be party leader and President Joe Biden. His approval rating is at a rather awful 39% according to the poll, no doubt because 74% of voters believe the economy is either not so good or poor compared to a measly 24% who rate it either excellent or good. There are also some indications that the polls in general could be tilted in favor of Democrats, as they were in the past few election cycles. As The New York Times put it earlier this month as hopes started to fade, “Yes, the Polling Warning Signs are Flashing Again,” noting that “Democrats are polling well in exactly the places where the surveys missed most in 2020.” “The more the polls overestimated Mr. Biden last time, the better Democrats seem to be doing relative to expectations. And conversely, Democrats are posting less impressive numbers in some of the states where the polls were fairly accurate two years ago, like Georgia.”
This is undoubtedly why President Joe Biden has rapidly pivoted from touting his supposed accomplishments to attacking Republicans as the Ultra MAGA heirs to Donald Trump, and a threat to democracy itself. The goal is to transform the midterms from a referendum on his and the Democrat Party’s leadership to a choice election between Democrats and Republicans in general, by smearing the GOP as “semi-fascists” and anything else they think might stick. On September 1, the President delivered a bizarrely staged prime time address at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The building behind him was bathed in crimson light reminiscent of the Soviet Union or the Communist Party of China. He was flanked by two marines who remained at attention, adding a military flavor to the proceedings as if the President were in imminent danger of a MAGA sneak attack. The optics in general were so reminiscent of authoritarian propaganda from Hitler to Mussolini, that some remarked it was impossible to believe the images of the speech weren’t Photoshopped. In a few still shots, he appears to be waving his hands and pointing around like the Fuhrer himself.
The content of the speech was no better, representing perhaps the only time in history where a sitting President openly attacked and brazenly condemned a huge segment of the American people. Americans are used to Presidents haranguing the policies and even the practices of their opposition. We are not used to the President condemning his opponents completely and entirely with no quarter, mercy, or grace. “Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.” He continued, “there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.” Recounting their sins, the President believes “MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election. MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.”
The irony is rich enough to choke on considering President Biden’s own party has declared the Supreme Court, a cornerstone branch of government in our Constitution, illegitimate and some believe we should just ignore their rulings. They encouraged lawless riots for months when it suited their purposes during an election year. They regularly rail against an “undemocratic” Senate which is also written right in the Constitution. They are obsessed with schemes to violate long standing democratic norms like the filibuster and the Electoral College. They believe it’s perfectly acceptable for social media companies to invade privacy and violate speech, and they have pushed a never ending series of authoritarian power grabs in the name of fighting the coronavirus. A never before contemplated federal vaccine mandate being the crown jewel, complete with firing tens of thousands of workers because they refused to comply. The truth is: Nothing has been normal under President Biden’s watch, not the dictates on coronavirus, the record breaking surge at the border, the defeat in Afghanistan, a new war in Europe, a supply chain crisis, a baby formula shortage, or record-breaking inflation. No politician in their right mind would even attempt to showcase this unprecedented string of disasters in an election year. Is it any wonder President Biden and the Democrat Party believe their best hope is smearing their fellow Americans in a pot-versus-kettle bit of projection that would make even the world’s most ridiculous hypocrites blush?
Of course, this will not prevent the media from trying to tout the President’s supposed accomplishments. Politico serves a recent case in point, where they wonder why President Biden’s economic record isn’t generating positive news. “Emboldened by a string of legislative victories, President Joe Biden has leaned into his record on the economy, increasingly confident that the nation’s outlook is brightening after months under a cloud of rising prices and consumer anxiety.” Conservatives like myself are used to the mainstream media putting a positive spin on anything with D next to it, but this is nothing short of political pretzel making, tying oneself into knots in attempt to unsee the obvious. “Wages are up, gas prices are down, the thinking goes. And following a year of fits and starts, Biden clinched congressional deals aimed at reshaping major parts of the U.S. economy — and cementing elements of his own presidential legacy.” Wages are down, however, when you account for inflation, and gas prices are only down if you pick their highest point. If you compare before Biden and after Biden, gas prices are up, substantially, as in close to 50%, and everyone except for the authors at Politico knows it. In any event, something happened on the way to the promised land because “just as the White House was rushing to capitalize on its winning streak — in hopes of turning around an economic narrative that has dogged the administration from its earliest days — complications have arisen. The lengthy fall in gas prices finally ended, inflation has stayed stubbornly high and a bleak global economic landscape has rattled the markets, with both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 nearing their weakest levels of the year.” Putting this another way, the actual economic metrics, as in the facts that we use to define the economy, things like GDP, inflation, durable goods orders, the stock market, basically anything except the unemployment rate which remains a lone bright spot, are bad if not horrible. In their opinion, the truth cannot interfere with the approved narrative that President Biden is in the midst of another miraculous political comeback. A couple of other points come to mind: The White House’s winning streak was never about success for the American people. It’s about passing more massive spending and taxes. Gas prices didn’t experience a “lengthy fall.” They peaked in mid-June and flat lined in late August. The idea that inflation was going to drop substantially was always a fantasy unique to Biden.
Regardless, “The cross currents of economic and political news have left the White House in a tricky position. After spending much of his term battling inflation and fears of a recession, Biden has begun traveling the country touting long-term investments in manufacturing and climate.” Once again, it never occurs to Politico that the President’s fortunes might be different if he actually battled inflation and the recession, rather than fears or attempts to control the ever-important narrative. President Biden has been on a completely unprecedented spending binge since he took office, pouring the gasoline of some $5 trillion in brand new spending on the inflationary fires of the economy between coronavirus relief, infrastructure, microchip manufacturing, and most recently climate change. From the very beginning, even liberal economists like Larry Summers and Stephen Rattner warned him that these policies would lead to inflation. President Biden proceeded to spend even more. The economy has also been showing signs of slowing for the past year. Confronted with not one, but two quarters of economic contraction, he pushed ahead with a tax increase contrary to every prevailing economic theory and the advice of his former boss, President Barack Obama. Throughout it all, he has been almost entirely uninterested in tackling supply chain challenges, other than holding events and throwing money at it. He employs a Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, with no experience in transportation and precious little executive experience. A man who went on paternity leave as the supply chain crisis metastasized. His energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, outright laughed at a reporter who asked what the administration was planning to do about rising gas prices last year. His former Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, characterized the supply chain crisis in general as the “tragedy of the treadmill,” mocking people’s legitimate concerns. Is it any wonder the “narrative” the President is trying to craft is completely at odds with the reality he has wrought?
Narrative, fortunately or unfortunately, is the word of the hour in political circles. It was a narrative all summer long that Biden’s fortunes were on the rise and the Republicans were waning. It’s a narrative now that Biden should be performing better than he is. Narratives aren’t real, however. They are the fiction we attached to ongoing events, trying to make sense of them in a way that fits our worldview. The truth will out, as ever and the President is leading his party to slaughter in November. This will be a bloodbath of historic proportions, somewhere around the bloody days for Democrats of November 1994 and 2020. The squeamish should probably look away.