On Saturday, November 7, the networks finally called the election of Joe Biden. Barack Obama’s vice president won with more than 7 million votes but his electoral college margin was too close for comfort. Democrats lost seats in the House and did not take control of the Senate until January, when Biden took office. America is divided, but Democrats’ own cracks are also exposed.
Jackson, FDR and JFK’s party is now a coalition of elites and coastal minorities on the lower tier, harassed by politically self-defeating demands for police dismantling and ever greater vigilance. As Biden admitted to Edward-Isaac Dovere, when he won the White House on the third attempt, the former Delaware senator was the “dog that caught the bus.” Now what?
Dovere’s debut book is insightful and detailed, filled with close quotes and lacerating observations, a must read for editors and political junkies. He captures Biden’s rise after 2016 and the strife within his party.
Donald Trump weighs on the story but is not the central point. The pride of the place goes to Biden and Obama. They are very interesting.
Obama is described as skeptical of Biden’s chances and doubtful of his ability to energize a crowd. In his eyes, Biden could strut around, wear Ray-Bansâ¦ then âtripâ. He didn’t hypnotize.
Americans liked their presidents to have a little boast, Obama thought.
Likewise, Biden knew he wasn’t Obama, saying, “I’ve never seen a man who speaks better to a thousand people than to one.”
Still, Biden understood he could relate to the daily level. At 30, he buried a woman and a girl. Decades later, he lost his eldest son to cancer and watched the other get stuck in a hell of a landscape filled with alcohol, pills and powder.
If Biden was bubbling with ambition, at least he did a reasonable job of avoiding self-delusion. Battle for the Soul portrays Eric Holder, Obama’s friend and former attorney general, as overly optimistic about the powers of the 44th president. And that’s being nice.
Holder actually believed that Obama’s victory in 2008 would usher in the Age of Aquarius. âEveryone thought his election would lead to a post-racial society,â Holder said, adding that âsomehow the normal rules wouldn’t applyâ and âanything negative Would disappear.
The only thing missing from this painting was a cotton candy unicorn.
Biden saw his own candidacy more prosaically. He could be “what stopped the Obama backlash,” a small but important feat. In numbers, Biden improved Hillary Clinton’s margins among white voters – with and without college degrees.
Over time, the GOP traded the upward arc for resentment as the central message and ceded the votes of Americans with four-year degrees. The flip side: Battle for the Soul records Biden bemoaning the disconnect between his group and their old lunch bucket base. The descendants of Ellis Island had forgotten their ancestors. The New Deal was no longer a memory.
On this point, Biden criticizes Democrats for emphasizing the plight of the poor to the detriment of the middle echelons of society.
âHow many times have you heard us, even in parts of our administration, talk about the middle class?â he asks Dovere.
A graduate of the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School, Biden criticized the left for embracing the abstract and Medicare for All on what people really need.
âSome of the party members have gotten a little elitist,â Biden conceded. The faculty lounge had replaced the political clubhouse. When it came to defunding the police, Biden refused to buy what the progressives were selling. In his campaign autobiography, Promise Me Dad, he prided himself on âhis close relationship with the police and the civil rights communityâ.
Whether Biden can bridge these two ruling groups may determine the outcome of the midterms and his chances of re-election. In the summer of 2020, amid protests against police brutality and racism, Biden feared Trump’s public order message would resonate. In the end, it almost happened.
The murder is in place. American cities are shooting galleries again. The murder of George Floyd by a police officer continues to reverberate. Unfortunately, the gulf between police and law enforcement is widening. The urban landscape is fading.
Dovere aims some of his sharpest slings at Jared Kushner. In 2016, after a post-election tour of the West Wing, Trump’s son-in-law took note of the scenery and told his guides, âOh Mr. Trump is going to love thisâ¦ This will remind him of one of his clubs. golf. . “
In the author’s words, Kushner was a “wunderkind wannabe” whose greatest achievement was “over-exploiting himself in the most expensive real estate transaction in New York history.”
Ted Cruz also receives his share of contempt. Dovere calls the Texas senator a “self-proclaimed great moralizer who brought intellectual urgency to his labored impression of Elmer Gantry.” Unlike Kushner, Cruz collects funds on these turns of phrase. There is nothing like saying, “I am persecuted, I am not 1”.
It remains to be seen how much Biden accomplishes. The pandemic seems to have subsided, if it has not been defeated. The economy is growing, albeit unevenly. The additional legislation that will be adopted is unknown; July 4th is almost here and there is no infrastructure bill.
If politics tells us anything, it’s that culture matters and crime matters. How Biden and the Democrats cope with these challenges is an open question. If Nancy Pelosi loses the speaker’s hammer, Biden will be forced to fight both the Republicans and the Squad, the influential group of progressive women in the House. For any mortal, this would be a daunting task.
Battle for the Soul provides plenty of caveats and plenty to think about.