Rising Democratic frustration with Biden on abortion fuels new doubts about 2024

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Joe Biden had plenty of time to prepare.

He had known for a couple of months, along with the rest of the world, that the Supreme Court was extremely likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, thanks to the leak to Politico.

US President Joe Biden speaks about inflation and the economy at the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus May 10, 2022, in Washington, DC
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

And he was forceful in coming out and saying “the health and life of women in this nation is at risk,” and that “Roe is on the ballot” – a not-so-subtle code for electing more Democrats.

But the president announced no major moves to blunt the impact of the high court’s ruling. He did say he would fight any attempt to bar women from traveling to states where abortion remains legal and would “protect” women’s access to the abortion pill approved by the FDA 20 years ago.


But to many liberals in Biden’s party, this is the same old spiel: their leader gives nice-sounding speeches but doesn’t make things happen and doesn’t play hardball. Remember when he urged a gas-tax holiday that congressional Democrats derailed?

And the emerging criticism has morphed into significant doubts, even opposition – again from Democrats – about Biden running for reelection at 81.

Here’s what’s fascinating: The current president and the previous president have both made clear they want a rematch, and yet it’s possible neither will be on the ticket.

Some Republicans have been saying the party needs to move on from Trump and his baggage as the press has been promoting Ron DeSantis ’possible candidacy, fueled in part by a single statistical tie in a New Hampshire poll. And Democrats have started openly debating Biden’s age and fitness in recent weeks.

The Washington Post points to “an increasingly vocal group of frustrated Democrats, activists and even members of Congress” who view the response to the Dobbs ruling as “strikingly inadequate to meet a moment of crisis. They criticize the notion that it is on voters to turn out in November when they say Democrats are unwilling to push boundaries and upend the system in defense of hard-won civil liberties. “

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush, who has spoken about having an abortion after being raped at 17, is quoted as saying, “We can’t just tell people, ‘Well, just vote – vote your problems away.’ Because they’re looking at us and saying, ‘Well, we already voted for you.’ “

Such prominent Dems as Elizabeth Warren and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez have suggested building abortion clinics on federal land, funding out-of-state travel for abortions, packing the Supreme Court and ending the filibuster. Those last two definitely aren’t happening. Biden won’t touch the court, and even if Manchin / Sinema could be persuaded to suspend the filibuster for this one issue, the Republicans could reverse it – maybe even pass a nationwide ban – when they’re back in power.

And it’s not just political; some commentators are growing impatient. Chris Hayes said on his MSNBC show: “Democrats, what are you gonna do about it? … Democratic Party leadership shouldn’t sugarcoat it, pretend there’s a magic wand they can wave, to reverse this decision. There isn’t, but they do need to articulate a plan to fight back. And right now, I gotta say that is shockingly absent. “

In fairness, Biden has limited tools with a 50-50 Senate, and he doesn’t want to take actions that will be overturned in court – although that would buy him some time and portray him as a fighter.

“A senior White House official said Biden is simply being honest with the public about what he can do unilaterally,” says the New York Times.

The Times piece melds the unease over the Dobbs ruling with the broader doubts about whether Biden will – or should – run in 2024.

“The president and his top aides have been stung by the questions about his plans, irritated at what they see as a lack of respect from their party and the press… Some ambitious Democrats have found that calling for the president to retire is a sure way to win attention. “

The paper pivots to polls: “Consumed” with ejecting Trump, “the party’s voters answered that call but thought little of the implications of having an octogenarian in the Oval Office four years on. Now, over half of Democrats say they don’t want Mr. Biden to run again or aren’t sure he should. “

Biden is said to believe the naysaying is a rerun of 2020, when politicians and the press wrote him off after early losses but he surged to the nomination.

Two notable tidbits: Biden was so pleased when Bernie Sanders said he wouldn’t challenge him that he had him to dinner at the White House the next night.

Sen.  Joe Manchin, DW.Va., questions HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies hearing on the FY2023 Funding Request and Budget Justification for the Department of Health and Human Services, in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., questions HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies hearing on the FY2023 Funding Request and Budget Justification for the Department of Health and Human Services, in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
(Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

And this bit of intrigue: “Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who some wealthy donors are hoping will consider a third-party presidential bid, declined to say whether he would consider such a run or if he planned to back Mr. Biden. ” Hmm. Could that explain some of his refusal to play ball? Is it a trial balloon?

The Roe reversal is also affecting the GOP contest, with Pence building his potential candidacy around a national ban, even as Trump privately expresses concern that the ruling hurt the party with suburban women.

“Pence has gone in the other direction – writing on Twitter last week that ‘we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land,'” another Post piece says . “Advisers to Pence said his firm position on abortion could help in conservative states such as South Carolina, and one said his team has been surprised that more candidates have not taken his stance.”

This gives Pence something to talk about besides balancing past loyalty to his president with his refusal to do his bidding on Jan. 6.

The country is in an extremely sour mood, and whether Biden is taking a prudent course or not, his liberal party feels he hasn’t delivered, not just on abortion rights but on police reform, voting rights, climate change and other issues where he’s been pulled to the left. And that is amplifying doubts that in the end he’ll run again, just as Trump is facing growing skepticism from Republicans over his relentless stolen election campaign.

Maybe some in the country are ready to move on from the septuagenarians to the classic cliché, a “new generation of leaders.”

January 6th Bombshell

Turns out the “surprise” witness at yesterday’s House hearing, former Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, did deliver some major news.

There were lots of testimony about administration officials, such as national intelligence chief John Ratcliffe, warning that Donald Trump should not go to the Capitol on Jan. 6. According to Hutchinson, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told her: “Please make sure we don’t go to the Cap, Cassidy. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,” citing obstruction of justice and obstructing the electoral count.

But then came the real bombshells from this poised 25-year-old former White House official.

Former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the House Jan.  6 Committee on June 28, 2022, as Rep.  Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Questions her.

Former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the House Jan. 6 Committee on June 28, 2022, as Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Questions her.
(Fox News)

Having been informed that several people were armed with rifles, including AR-15s, and wearing body armor, but hanging back so they wouldn’t have to go through the magnetometers, Hutchinson said “The president just cared about the shot. He was f ****** furious. ” The president felt the crowd in the official rally area would look fuller if the armed people were let in.

She described an “angry” Trump as saying: “I don’t f ****** care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me … Let them in, let my people in … Then they can march to the Capitol. ”

When Meadows was told of the armed protestors, Hutchinson said, he didn’t look up from his phone. Trump’s deputy chief of staff, former Secret Service agent Tony Ornato, told the president as well.

While Hutchinson was backstage at the Trump rally, which she couldn’t hear, the president told the crowd he would go to the Capitol. She had been told that the Secret Service vetoed the idea. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy called, she said, and said “Why did you lie to me? … Don’t come up here.” She checked with Ornato and said they weren’t coming.

Next bombshell: Hutchinson says Ornato told her of a physical altercation in the Beast, the presidential limo, when he told Trump they didn’t have the physical assets to protect him at the Capitol.

Trump said “I’m the f ****** president, take me up to the Capital now,” Ornato told her. He then reached to grab the steering wheel, and the head of his Secret Service detail, Bobby Engel, grabbed it back.

Trump “then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel,” reaching for his collarbone, Ornato told Hutchinson. Engel was present and did not contradict a word.

Perhaps the most damaging testimony: Back at the White House, as the rioters breached the Capitol and members of Congress, Ivanka Trump, Fox News hosts and others were urging Meadows to get Trump to take action, Cippollone spoke sharply to Meadows.

“He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat,” the chief of staff said.

“Mark, something needs to be done. People are going to die and the blood’s going to be on your f ****** hands.”


Hutchinson testified that she heard talk in the presidential dining room about some in the mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

“We have to do more,” Cipollone said, according to her account.

“You heard him, Pat,” Meadows replied. “He doesn’t care. He thinks he f ****** deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong,” referring to the rioters.

Hutchinson said that as a staffer she was sad and disappointed, but “as an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic, un-American.”

Oh, and she testified that Trump threw his lunch against the wall and broke some plates.


It wasn’t till mid-afternoon that Trump made a video telling the rioters to go home in peace, but also saying: “We love you. You’re very special.”

Trump said on Social Truth that he barely knew Hutchinson, called her “a total phony and a ‘leaker,'” and said it was a lie that he had lunged at an agent in the limo or threw his lunch against the wall or wanted armed people let into his rally or said that Pence deserves to be hung.


But actually, her story is totally consistent with her previous depositions, and based on direct conversations and texts with her boss Meadows and other top White House officials. Analysts on MSNBC, Fox and CNN described Hutchinson’s account as powerful and compelling.

No wonder the committee called a last-minute hearing to get her in front of a camera.

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