So it begins for the 46th president; the long, painful process of undoing everything the 45th chief executive did, and punishing those who had the audacity to support him. It seems the Democratic Party believes they can boost their own fortunes by continuing their reign of destruction against Trump the private citizen.
Come now, you might say, surely there must be at least a smattering of reasonable Democrats populating the halls of Congress. Like Joe Manchin, for example. The West Virginia senator, thought to stand alone as that dinosaur known as a conservative Democrat, sent out an encouraging message to the masses after the election. He would not support radical legislation – Medicare for All, Green New Deal et al. – and would refuse to cast the deciding vote in favor of such laws in a chamber split down the middle.
The Manchinian Candidate
Ah, but then the Democrat establishment evidently impressed upon Manchin that disloyalty to party objectives – crushing all remnants of Trump and everything he stood for – would not be looked upon favorably by the party leadership. And so, Manchin dutifully pivoted in extremis to his new assigned role as attack dog. He declared that the Senate should consider using a little-known section of the 14th Amendment to remove two GOP senators, Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, for daring to question the electoral college results.
Yes, this one measly Democrat thought by conservatives to possess common sense, and free-market sensibilities actually thinks it’s perfectly legitimate to forcibly remove two of his colleagues from the nation’s preeminent legislative body for the most common function of a senator – voicing an opinion. Counting on even an ordinarily level-headed sort such as Manchin would amount to a fool’s errand in the present toxic political climate.
So Biden could go ahead and pass a gaggle of executive orders in the early days of his presidency – most presidents do, but never as many as the 17 passed down from this new president on his first day in office. All of these EOs were exclusively designed to draw an immediate and striking contrast to his reviled predecessor. Much like pardons, those lovely parting gifts at the end of a presidential term, these executive actions are essentially free introductory gifts for the new occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But you hardly receive lasting credit for something you can do simply with the stroke of a pen, as opposed to working with the legislature to achieve permanent change in the law. These unilateral actions are the very thing Obama employed with regularity once neutered by a GOP takeover of Congress, and which he likely lived to regret once Trump simply reversed most all of his controversial orders. With functional control of both chambers of Congress – now that we know Joe Manchin has likely been brought to heel – why exactly is this new chief executive looking to govern by decree? Why is he doing the heavy lifting for those continuing to suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS), for which no vaccine has yet been discovered?
The Anti-Trump and His Party
Perhaps this new president was anointed by his party’s hierarchy for this specific task. We can be confident that innovative new policy ideas to be thoughtfully considered by the House and Senate are unlikely to be flowing out of the Oval Office. But if Biden serves the purpose of using his bully pulpit to simply drive home the contrast in personality between himself and Trump, steady in tone, signaling his virtue all the way, the congressional and media branch can take care of heralding the wonders of whatever climate change legislation or collectivist cures for the economy are the latest and greatest items on the left’s agenda.
With the rancid stench of Trump the person being deodorized by executive fiat, pay close attention to what happens when the new president and his colleagues begin to unwind what’s left: the most broadly popular element of the last presidency that would almost certainly have produced a second term but for the pandemic – the Trump record.
Will Biden re-regulate an energy industry radically deregulated by Trump – at the cost of lost jobs and higher energy prices? Will he reverse the tax cuts, which represented a landmark achievement of Trump’s presidency, meaning a tax increase in the midst of a pandemic? Will he add a public option to the remnants of Obamacare, adding up to yet another tax hike?
He has promised to do all these things. If he follows through, will he come to rue the day?
Then there are the far-reaching progressive measures designed to assure that no one like Trump could possibly be elected again, and guaranteeing leftist rule of all three branches of government for as far as the eye can see. Under pressure from radical elements in his party – read AOC, Bernie, et al. – will Biden support, tacitly or explicitly, initiatives to add states, abolish the electoral college, pack the Supreme Court, and/or eliminate the Senate filibuster altogether? Get ready for the argument that not only must Trump never be allowed to run for public office again, but the extreme times brought on by this monster require extreme measures.
The smart money says the 46th president will have his hands full once the initial days of his presidency are passed, and the single factor that got him into the Oval Office, not being Donald Trump, will start to lose its singular appeal. It is then, and only then, when we experience the full measure of the Trump presidency and the lasting imprint it has left on the body politic and the country itself.
Read more from Tim Donner.