THOMAS/How exactly is Biden a ‘centrist?’
One of many things that will distinguish a President Joe Biden from his predecessor is that the incoming president is likely to speak less in public, mostly because of how he garbles his thoughts and words. The most recent example was when he called Peter Doocy of Fox News a “one-horse pony.” Translators are still working to decipher that one.
Another difference will be trying to figure out who Mr. Biden really is and what he means by self-identifying as a “centrist.” Whether or not one believes President Trump was a true conservative, his policies (with the exception of running up the debt, for which both parties share blame) were clearly to the right.
Just before Christmas, Mr. Biden spoke with a few newspaper columnists. My invitation must have been lost in the mail or stolen by the Russians.
One of them was Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal. About Mr. Biden’s comments, Mr. Seib writes: “For Republicans and conservatives, Mr. Biden is saying, in effect, that they are wrong when they claim he has been, or soon will be, captured by the most liberal elements of his Democratic Party. … More broadly, Mr. Biden is planting a flag in the center. It’s pretty lonely there lately: we’ll soon see how many rally around him there.”
Most people understand policies associated with liberals and conservatives, but what does it mean to be in the center? No one seems to have adequately defined the word in ways that make sense and Mr. Seib never asked Mr. Biden for his definition.
Would Mr. Biden be willing to move in the direction of Republicans and conservatives toward a center? He is unlikely to modify his views on social issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, introduced a bill that would protect the lives of babies who survive an abortion.
Would Mr. Biden support that bill? Not if he wants to avoid attacks from the left, who are already slamming Ms. Gabbard for what they call a violation of “women’s rights.” How does protecting the life of a newborn affect a woman’s right? Does the left really want to go on record as baby killers, which some pro-lifers claim they are? Will they ever impose restrictions on abortions?
How about taxes on the wealthy, which Mr. Biden wants to raise? It doesn’t appear he would move toward the center on that issue. Ditto environmental protections and regulations, which he appears he wants to restore, reversing Mr. Trump’s efforts to gut them. Mr. Trump’s decisions helped drive the pre-COVID-19 economic boom and the current recovery.
Climate? Not likely given his devotion to the subject and refusal to consider any information that contradicts his views.
What about China? Have Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter, been compromised when it comes to China policy? Does China (and Ukraine) have information that would harm a Biden presidency and possibly worse because of Hunter’s business dealings?
Where is the “center” on confronting Iran and its race to develop a nuclear bomb?
Immigration? Mr. Biden has said he wants to grant citizenship to 11 million undocumented people already here and not build Mr. Trump’s “big, beautiful (border) wall,” which along with COVID-19 and an economic recession, has contributed to the decline in illegal border crossings. Such decisions would almost certainly encourage even more to come.
What is the center position on the Middle East where President Trump has had remarkable success coordinating peace deals with Israel? Would Mr. Biden move the U.S. Embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and revive relations with Palestinian leaders who remain committed to the destruction of the Jewish state?
I continue to wait for someone to define centrism, which sounds to me like a cover to hide a radical liberal agenda.
Cal Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, is the author of “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires, Superpowers and the United States”