Dan McLaughlin on the non-moderate Democratic presidential candidate (for now):
The Democrats’ pundit class has a Joe Biden agenda problem. On the one hand, they are devoted to reassuring centrist voters that Biden is a soothing moderate because of things he did decades ago (say, the 1994 crime bill), because he talked down some of the most ridiculous of the left wing’s policy proposals (notably “Medicare for All”) in the primary, or because he does not speak the language of the woke “defund the police” faction. But at the same time, they are hard at work loudly telling the Bernie/Warren/AOC wing of their party: Don’t worry, Joe won’t stop you from getting what you want. He’s actually going to help you.
The problem is: We can read. This stuff is all out there. And voters who are being sold the “moderate Joe” line need to understand that the people selling it are simultaneously building support to govern with a much more radical agenda.
Let’s walk through some samples — the headlines, the arguments, the quotes from Democratic sources, some of the policy examples they cite, and the smug certainty that most voters aren’t noticing. This is all out in the open. Peter Beinart in The Atlantic, “Biden Goes Big Without Sounding Like It. Perceived as a moderate, he has embraced strikingly progressive goals without facing any political backlash”:
Despite embracing an agenda that is further to the left than that of any Democratic nominee in decades, he’s avoided the specific policy proposals and catchphrases that Republicans find easiest to attack. As a result, he appears more centrist than he actually is . . . on issue after issue, he’s adopted policies that are strikingly progressive while stopping just shy of the specific formulations that might leave him vulnerable to Republican attack.
Paul Waldman in the Washington Post, “How Joe Biden is moving left while still being seen as a moderate”:
When Sen. Bernie Sanders said recently that if Joe Biden implements his policy agenda, the presumptive Democratic nominee could be “the most progressive president since FDR,” he was probably right. In fact, something extraordinary is happening: Biden is getting more progressive in substance, yet it has done nothing to change his image as a moderate. . . . [This is] pretty clearly the product of a careful strategy on Biden’s part . . . the continuing evolution of Biden is a fascinating story, and one most of the public is probably unaware of.
Take, for instance, the climate change plan Biden released this week. . . . The average voter — who right now is paying attention to the presidential campaign on only the most superficial level — probably heard next to nothing about it. But the reaction from progressives and climate activists ranged somewhere between surprise and joy. As one co-founder of the Sunrise Movement tweeted, the plan is “a VERY BIG DEAL, and is a huge victory for the #GreenNewDeal movement.”
. . . . There’s a kind of shift we expect from presidential candidates: In the primaries they appeal to their party with pledges of ideological fealty, then when the nomination is secured, during the general election, they head back to the center. Biden, however, is doing the opposite, in substance if not in rhetoric.
Oh, that silly, superficial, “average voter,” blissfully unaware of Biden’s agenda.