Speed Reads


Is Biden too boring for Republicans to beat?

President Biden hits the traditionally symbolic first-100-days mark of his presidency this week, and "it has dawned on Republicans that the man their standard-bearer once mocked as 'Sleepy Joe' is a formidable adversary," Jonathan Chait writes in New York on Monday. "And the quality that has made him so effective up to this point is, well, his sleepiness." Before Biden's immediate predecessor, the last handful of presidents were "nice," but Biden is "also tedious," Chait argues:

He is relentlessly enacting an ambitious domestic agenda — signing legislation that could cut child poverty by more than half, expanding ObamaCare, and injecting the economy with a stimulus more than twice the size of what [President Barack] Obama's Congress passed in 2009 — while arousing hardly any controversy. There's nothing in Biden's vanilla-ice-cream bromides for his critics to hook on to. Republicans can't stop Biden because he is boring them to death. [Jonathan Chait, New York]

All signs point to this being a deliberate strategy, borne of wisdom or expediency, and it's "a fascinating counterpoint to a career spent trying desperately to be interesting," Chait adds. "Biden used to overshare, with frequently disastrous results that led him to accurately self-diagnose as a 'gaffe machine,'" but now "the tedium is the message."

Biden's new persona has been very effective at promoting progressive ideas in a way that strikes centrist voters as pretty anodyne, Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher tells the Los Angeles Times. "You cannot underestimate how comfortable Uncle Joe is for a lot of people. They give an old, white guy the benefit of the doubt."

Certainly, "lowering the temperature of Washington's political debates" has helped Biden's agenda, David Lauter writes at the Times. "But it could create a problem down the road, depriving Biden of the fervent support that can sustain a president in bad times." If his sleepiness does end up leaving Democratic allies cold, Biden will still have hot Oval Office chocolate chip cookies for potential allies in Congress.