New York Times: “It has been 40 years since President Ronald Reagan declared in his first inaugural address that ‘government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.’ The infrastructure plan that President Biden described on Wednesday … is a bet that government can do colossal things that the private sector cannot.”
“It will take years to know whether Mr. Biden’s initiative will have the lasting power of the New Deal or the Great Society, or whether it can ‘change the paradigm,’ as he argued a few weeks ago. Yet it is already clear it is based on the gamble that the country is ready to dispense with one of the main tenets of the Reagan revolution, and show that for some tasks the government can jump-start the economy more efficiently than market forces.”
Robert McCartney: “Opponents of D.C. statehood have at most three arguments that deserve any respect. They involve the Founders’ intent, retrocession to Maryland and the 23rd Amendment.”
“But none stands up to scrutiny,.. It’s hard to accept that Republicans and other critics believe that these arcane constitutional claims count for more than respecting the nation’s founding rallying cry of ‘no taxation without representation.'”
“Instead, as GOP leaders are increasingly willing to admit publicly, they care primarily about preventing the deep-blue District from sending two additional Democrats to the Senate and one to the House.”
Charlie Cook: “Anyone who referred to Biden a year ago as a ‘centrist’ probably got carried away. One could have plausibly argued that he has long been in the ideological center of the Democratic Party, but he’s pretty far from the 50-yard line of the electorate as a whole. Still, his ideological posture of late has been surprising.”
“It shouldn’t surprise us any longer. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the parliamentary maneuvering over the stimulus wasn’t merely a tactical decision to skip the bipartisan approach; it was more strategic, more foundational…”
“Some wags used to joke that Biden was the type of politician who could put out the fire in a fireside chat. But truly, Biden’s agenda is more reminiscent of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society than the more modest and forgettable Fair Deal of Harry Truman, Bill Clinton’s New Covenant, or Jimmy Carter’s New Spirit. As our nation’s 47th vice president once said about another expansion of federal authority, ‘this is a big fucking deal.'”
For members: Two Paths Into the History Books
Axios: “The chatty, two-hour-plus meeting is a for-the-history-books marker of the think-big, go-big mentality that pervades his West Wing.”
“Biden’s presidency has already been transformative, and he has many more giant plans teed up that could make Biden’s New Deal the biggest change to governance in our lifetimes.”
Afterward, Biden told an aide: “I could have gone another two hours.”
Pankaj Mishra: “It is worth remembering that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who came to power in 1933 with a small and unflattering reputation, reshaped, during his 12 years in power, not just the politics and economy of the U.S. but its culture.”
“FDR succeeded because he saw the birth of a spacious moral imagination as vital to his task — and recognized that his own rhetorical gifts, though impressive, were not strong enough to achieve it.”
Not even two weeks after the Tennessee historical commission voted to remove the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state capitol, state senators are trying to vote to remove all members from the commission, WTVF reports.
Dylan Matthews: “Fifty-seven years ago, a Democratic president who had a reputation as a moderate — and who had been a senator and vice president before reaching the highest office in the land — announced his administration would be waging ‘unconditional war on poverty in America.’”
“With Congress’s passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, another Democratic president with a reputation as a moderate (and who came through the Senate and the vice presidency) is putting his stamp on American policy. The Covid-19 relief bill, which passed the US House on Wednesday afternoon and is set to be signed into law by President Joe Biden on Friday, is the most far-reaching anti-poverty legislation in more than 50 years.”
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FiveThirtyEight: “Our current extended period of closely contested national elections atop stable and persistently uncontested state and local elections is truly unprecedented.”
“The last time we encountered anything similar, American party politics were substantively different and the precursors of impending realignment far clearer. But today, the factors locking in continued closely-balanced hyper-partisan politics are much stronger. And absent a major change to the rules of our elections, no realignment lies in sight. Instead, deepening partisan trench warfare will only worsen fights over the basic rules of voting, undermining the shared legitimacy of elections on which democracy depends.”
Amy Walter: “Donald Trump has been such a constant in our lives for the last four years that’s it’s hard to imagine our politics without him. Moreover, we’ve never seen a party, its voters and its elected leaders continue to enthusiastically embrace a candidate who lost re-election.”
“But, it’s also true that it is incredibly early to declare that he will continue to cast a defining shadow over the next election. Or even the next year. Democrats are in charge now. And, that means that their success—or failures—will be on the ballot in 2022.”
Associated Press: “When rioters tore through the U.S. Capitol last month, some of them gripping Confederate battle flags, they didn’t encounter a statue of the most famous rebel general, Robert E. Lee.”
“The Lee statue which represented the state of Virginia as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol for 111 years, had been removed just weeks before — one of at least 160 public Confederate symbols taken down or moved from public spaces in 2020.”
BBC: “Trump’s second summit with Kim Jong-un, in Hanoi, Vietnam, did not go to plan. As negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear programme broke down, Trump left abruptly, saying to the press: ‘Sometimes you just have to walk.'”
“But before he departed, the then US president did make one astonishing offer to Kim.”
“Matthew Pottinger, the top Asia expert on Trump’s National Security Council told us: President Trump offered Kim a lift home on Air Force One. The president knew that Kim had arrived on a multi-day train ride through China into Hanoi and the president said: ‘I can get you home in two hours if you want.’ Kim declined.”
Greg Sargent has a must-read interview with historian Rick Perlstein and the impact of Rush Limbaugh on the conservative movement.
Worth a listen: Bill Clinton uses his podcast to trace the evolution of the presidency from America’s founding through modern history.
On this President’s Day, Philip Bump shows how the United States is only four presidents’ lifetimes old.
“It’s not lost on historians that Donald Trump’s impeachment trial acquittal will fall on Presidents’ Day weekend, a holiday celebrating the examples set by America’s first president, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln, who held the republic together through civil war and ended slavery,” Axios reports.
“Through his repeated efforts to overturn the election, Trump put the country through one of the toughest tests of democracy it has ever faced. Historians say his expected acquittal on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection will have consequences we are only beginning to understand — and they’ll be felt for years.”
A new Economist/YouGov poll finds that 46% of Americans think Donald Trump was the worst president in the history of the country. Barack Obama got the second highest at 24%.
However, Obama also led the poll as the best president in history, edging out Abraham Lincoln.
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