Once again, a friendly outlet has published a rather damning report showing how Democrats are in disarray, this time over abortion. On Tuesday, CNN published a report from Edward-Isaac Dovere, highlighting how "After string of Supreme Court setbacks, Democrats wonder whether Biden White House is capable of urgency moment demands." While the piece is mostly about the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade with its Dobbs v. Jackson decision, it's worth reminding there were other cases not particularly kind to the Democrats and their pet issues.
"Debra Messing" was trending on Twitter as a result of the piece, since the actress was part of a call to discuss the Dobbs decision.
As Dovere's piece began:
Debra Messing was fed up. The former “Will & Grace” star was among dozens of celebrity Democratic supporters and activists who joined a call with White House aides last Monday to discuss the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
The mood was fatalistic, according to three people on the call, which was also co-organized by the advocacy group Build Back Better Together.
Messing said she’d gotten Joe Biden elected and wanted to know why she was being asked to do anything at all, yelling that there didn’t even seem a point to voting. Others wondered why the call was happening.
That afternoon, participants received a follow-up email with a list of basic talking points and suggestions of Biden speech clips to share on TikTok.
The call, three days after the decision eliminating federal abortion rights, encapsulates the overwhelming sense of frustration among Democrats with Biden. It offers a new window into what many in the President’s party describe as a mismanagement permeating the White House.
Top Democrats complain the President isn’t acting with – or perhaps is even capable of – the urgency the moment demands.
“Rudderless, aimless and hopeless” is how one member of Congress described the White House.
Messing isn't the only one who appears apoplectic, though:
Two dozen leading Democratic politicians and operatives, as well as several within the West Wing, tell CNN they feel this goes deeper than questions of ideology and posture. Instead, they say, it gets to questions of basic management.
More than a week after the abortion decision, top Biden aides are still wrangling over releasing new actions in response, despite the draft decision leaking six weeks earlier.
The concerns are spreading to deeper issues, too, including when it comes to the upcoming midterm elections and the 2024 election. Emphasis is added:
Multiple Democratic politicians who have reached out to work with Biden – whether it’s on specific bills, brainstorming or outreach – often don’t hear anything back at all. Potential appointees have languished for months waiting to hear if they’ll get jobs, or when they’ll be done with vetting. Invitations to events are scarce, thank you calls barely happen. Even some aides within the White House wonder why Biden didn’t fire anyone, from the West Wing or at the Food and Drug Administration, to demonstrate some accountability or at least anger over the baby formula debacle.
Inside the White House, aides are exhausted from feeling forever on red alert, batting at a swarm of crises that keeps growing – enough for White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to make an offhand joke about the constant “eleventh hour” decision-making in the building when under fire at a recent daily briefing.
Several officials say Biden’s tendency to berate advisers when he’s displeased with how a situation is being handled or when events go off poorly has trickled down the ranks in the West Wing, leaving several mid-level aides feeling blamed for failings despite lacking any real ability to influence the building’s decision-making. That’s contributed to some of the recent staff departures, according to people familiar.
Democrats worry the lack of decisions and authority are deepening their own midterm problems and feeding a sense that the President couldn’t truly handle the extra complications of a run for reelection in 2024 – and along the way, reinforcing narratives that he’s an old man not fit for the moment.
The President who campaigned on putting America back together again after four years of deep divisions appears to have stopped trying, supporters say.
“There’s no fight,” another Democratic member told CNN. “People understand that a lot of this is out of his hands – but what you want to see is the President out there swinging.”
It seems that the president just can't win when it comes to this issue. As Dovere highlighted, his base is less than thrilled with what is perceived inaction from Biden, who himself conceded there isn't much he can do on the issue via executive order.
In light of the Dobbs decision officially being handed down, Biden and others in his administration have reiterated his support for abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and paid for with taxpayer dollars, as evidenced by him calling for Congress to pass the Women's Health Protection ACT (WHPA). Such legislation would not merely codify Roe, as its supporters claim, but would expand it and would get rid of all pro-life laws passed at the state level.
Biden has even called for bypassing the filibuster in order to pass the legislation, through that won't do much, considering it couldn't even get a majority in the Senate.
Abortion extremists, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have called for opening up federal lands to abortion clinics.
Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, another abortion radical, acknowledged during an interview last week that the Biden administration is illegally using taxpayer funds to assist women in traveling to other states to obtain an abortion. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) also issued "Availability of Sick Leave for Travel to Access Medical Care," as guidance for federal employees to use sick leave to cross state lines to "access medical care."
Republicans in Congress are looking to counteract both measures. Rep. Lauen Boebert (R-CO) introduced legislation last Friday known as the Protecting Life on Federal Lands Act "to prohibit any head of a federal agency or department from leasing certain federal property to abortion providing organizations, and for other purposes."
On Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kiran Ahuja expressing his concern that the Hyde Amendment is being violated and demanding "the agency clarify that the federal government will not provide sick leave for travel related to abortion services." In his letter, Rubio wrote that it's "obvious given the timing of the announcement that the purpose of the OPM guidance is to facilitate federal employees traveling out-of-state to obtain an abortion."
As I highlighted earlier on Tuesday, though, Democrats cannot look for abortion to save them in the midterms. Voters still prioritize economic issues, such as inflation and gas prices. Further, very few Americans actually agree with the Democratic Party's position of abortion on demand without legal limit for all nine months.