Frustrated Democrats are alarmed at Biden’s powerlessness

President Biden finds himself largely powerless to deal with a wave of adversity in recent weeks that has left Democrats concerned about the state of the country.

Biden has been dealt blow after blow in recent weeks: Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade’s constitutional right to abortion; the country is ravaged by gun violence, the latest example falling during an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago; and rising costs for gasoline, food and other goods have frustrated the public for months.

In either case, Biden’s hands are largely tied, which frustrates Democrats and contributes to the president’s political malaise.

He has signed executive measures and a bipartisan law to curb gun violence. He has taken unilateral measures to lower gas prices, such as releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And he’s called on the Senate to change the filibuster if necessary to codify Roe v. Wade.

None of these measures were expected to do or do much to slow the scourge of gun violence, drastically lower prices at the pump, or reduce abortion rights in states where the procedure is banned.

And all that increasingly frustrates Democrats, who claim they voted Biden into office to make change and are unhappy with the results.

The steps and statements Biden has taken and given in this regard are seen as far too little.

“It’s infuriating,” said a top Democratic strategist, expressing frustration with Biden and his team. “Our house is on fire and it seems they are doing nothing to put out the fire. They’re just watching it with the rest of us.”

Polls point to the gloom in American life.

A Gallup Survey published on Tuesday found that only 23 percent of Americans trust the institution of the presidency, 15 percentage points less than a year ago.

A Monmouth University poll released Tuesday found that 88 percent of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, and just 10 percent say it is on the right track, the lowest number counted in a Monmouth poll since 2013.

Democratic strategist Joel Payne said Biden should change course.

“There’s the administrative part of the job and the political part of the job, and it seems this president is leaning more into the administrative role at a time when his coalition is thirsting for political clarity and leadership,” Payne said. “The president and his team must be vigilant about providing that and balancing the need to do both.”

Speaking about the Biden administration’s inaction on abortion, Bakari Sellers, the political commentator and former member of the South Carolina State House, told CNN on Friday: “I’m not sure what he’s doing. I can tell you what he doesn’t do.”

“We’ve been sounding the alarm about this for a long time,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (DN.Y.) tweeted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s abortion decision. “Some may want to go after the messenger, but we just can’t make promises, hector people to vote, and then refuse to use our full power when they do. We still have time to resolve this and take action. But we must be courageous.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked multiple times during a press conference on Tuesday about complaints from Democratic lawmakers, activists and pundits that Biden has shown a lack of urgency and fire on certain issues.

“I can’t speak for them, I can only talk to what we’re trying to do,” Jean-Pierre said.

“This is a president who has worked tirelessly day in and day out since he walked into this administration to fight for the American public,” she continued. “That’s what he’s all about. That’s what’s important, providing every possible means to make sure we get things done.”

Jean-Pierre pointed to the bipartisan gun laws passed after a Texas school shooting, although Biden played no major role in those negotiations. And she noted that Biden announced executive measures to protect access to abortion pills and instructed the Justice Department to protect women who cross state lines from the procedure in the wake of Roe’s reversal.

“Who knew to brag about how little you know about the Constitution and the only way to put Roe’s protections back in place would be such a tantalizing dopamine hit to people who relieved the police and caused Congressional majorities to be so narrow,” said one Biden. ally said.

Doug Heye, a Republican strategist, said Biden is in a no-win situation.

“I’m not sure he can do a whole lot substantively,” Heye said, adding that there are a few reasons why Biden is in this predicament.

“The base just wants someone who can fight. You don’t have to have a plan to do the trick, win the round or take down the opponent, you just have to be seen fighting,” he said.

But Heye also said Biden’s expectations have been “way too high.”

“They have a slim majority in the House and no real majority in the Senate, so what did they expect?” he said.

White House officials dispute the idea that Biden is not fighting to tackle issues such as climate change, abortion rights, gun violence and inflation. They pointed to his ambitious legislative proposals, executive actions he has taken on weapons, climate and voting rights, and his willingness to call for filibuster carveouts in the Senate, something he had not done during the campaign.

Aides said Biden shares the public’s sense of frustration that the country has gone through a series of setbacks, something the president indicated in comments during an Independence Day celebration at the White House.

“In recent days, there has been reason to think that this country is on the decline, that freedom is being curtailed, that the rights we thought were protected are no longer,” Biden said in remarks to military families on Monday. “A reminder that we remain in an ongoing battle for the soul of America, as we have done for over 200 years.”

“I know it can be exhausting and upsetting,” Biden continued. “But tonight I want you to know that we’re all going to get through this – for everything we’ve been through, that we’re going to get through this, and look how far we’ve come.”

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