As the days go by, it's looking increasingly like voting legislation is not going to pass, especially because Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) aren't budging when it comes to the filibuster. President Joe Biden's liberal allies, and even Biden himself, have acknowledged this to be the case, in fact.
On Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) eventually conceded to Jake Tapper during his appearance on CNN's "The Lead" that Biden's remarks during his Tuesday speech in Atlanta were "stark" and that "perhaps the president went a little too far in his rhetoric."
Tapper had been giving Durbin some pushback, as the senator had first responded with an answer that in part claimed the voting legislation "is as fundamental as it gets in a democracy. Joe Biden came to the United States Senate on a civil rights platform. That's why he ran in the first place. And the fact that he shows emotion when it comes to the voting rights of Americans, I'm glad he did."
What got Durbin to realize that Biden went too far was Tapper spelling out that Biden was equating legislators--including those in his own party--with Commissioner Bull Conners who sicced attack dogs on civil rights activists, as well as Alabama's Governor George Wallace, who was a particularly vocal proponent of segregation, and Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.
As Katie highlighted about such a comparison made in Biden's speech, Biden was actually quite cozy with Wallace, and even received an award from him.
Those comparisons came up again during Friday, when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took a question from Fox News' Peter Doocy who asked "But as he talked about a year ago and working with Republicans, now he is talking about Republicans that don’t agree with voting rights. He’s describing them as George Wallace, Bull Connor, and Jefferson Davis. What happened to the guy who when he was elected said, ‘to make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy?"
Psaki claimed the president was making the comparison about "the choice" whether to support such legislation. "I think everybody listening to that speech who’s speaking on the level as my mother would say would note that he was not comparing them as humans. He was comparing the choice to those figures in history and where they’re going to position themselves as they determine whether they’re going to support the fundamental right to vote or not," she said, claiming to speak for "everybody listening to that speech."
Then again, Psaki's responses to criticisms of Biden's speech from Tuesday have been particularly bad. On Wednesday, as Leah highlighted, Psaki claimed those who said such criticisms were "hilarious on many levels, given how many people sat silently over the last four years for the former president."
What one might consider "hilarious" though is that one such critic was Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) someone who has been particularly vocal about his issues with former President Donald Trump, even voting to impeach him in both of the impeachment trials.
Tapper wasn't an outlier. Earlier on Wednesday, even those on "Morning Joe," including Joe Scarborough, Willie Geist, and Reverend Al Sharpton, didn't think Biden had the best approach with his speech.
Scarborough emphasized "I don't understand," going on to question "if you’re President of the United States, you’re trying to get people on your side, why you compare them to Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis?"
Sharpton also shared that "if [Biden] was trying to get votes, it was not the vote-getting speech."
Such a point from the reverend has certainly turned out to be true, considering Sens. Manchin and Sinema have doubled down on their opposition to nuking the filibuster. During Tuesday's speech Biden claimed "we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this."
But what truly signaled Biden went too far is his own admittance on Thursday after he came to the Capitol. "The honest-to-God answer is I don’t know whether we can get this done," Biden said after he had met with Senate Democrats for more than an hour. "I hope we can get this done but I’m not sure."
As Alexander Bolton reported for The Hill, the president left walked away from the microphone without taking questions. Such a move is, of course, a pattern for Biden.
Schedule update: Schumer says Senate adjourning tonight. Then postpone recess. Returning Tuesday for a vote to take up House bill on voting laws. Once GOP blocks it, he says Senate will vote on a rules change (which will fail). He cites covid and winter storm for schedule change— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 14, 2022
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has planned to hold a vote on such voting legislation on Tuesday and then a vote to change Senate rules.