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What's really behind Joe Biden's far-left swing?

What's really behind Joe Biden's far-left swing?
© getty: President Biden

Joe Biden may not be the doddering old fool that a lot of ungenerous right-wingers claim he is — but he didn’t get elected because we thought he was a “woke” progressive either. So why is he acting as if he is?   

He ran for president promising he would end the chaos and temper tantrums of the Trump years. He said he would bring moderation to the presidency and that he would unite the country. So far, he has done the opposite. Instead of bringing Americans closer together, he’s doing a pretty good job of driving us apart.     

He talks a good game about unity and compromise — a message that the equally woke media have happily promoted — and that works with his fellow Democrats, who would embrace just about anybody whose name isn’t Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote One quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors MORE. But Biden also is good at pandering — kissing up to the progressive crowd. And you get the feeling that he’s just going along for the ride. That he’s being pulled to the left by the ideologues on his team — the ones who fly below the radar but, seemingly, are really running the country. And, of course, the media happily approve of that as well.

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Let’s leave aside Donald Trump’s bogus claim that Joe Biden and the Democratic Party stole the election. What is undeniable is that the election was close; Biden won only a tad more than half of the popular vote — 51.3 percent, to be exact. That’s enough to win the presidency, but it’s hardly enough to claim a mandate to transform the country, to repeatedly try to push through progressive legislation that half the country doesn’t want.

You’d have every right to believe that a close election would lead the president down a path of conciliation. But instead of planting his flag on the middle ground, Biden is channeling the woke crowd, turning himself into an unapologetic progressive. He’s even being hailed as the second coming of Franklin Roosevelt.

Biden is 78 years old, and maybe he figures he doesn’t have time to make minor changes around the fringes of American politics and culture. Instead, he seems to be in a hurry — in a rush to transform the country in his new progressive image. Maybe there’s even a psychological component to all of this: Maybe Biden is trying to stay young — and what better way than to pander to the trendy ideas of the young, the cool and the fashionably woke.  

As for bringing the two sides closer together, let’s consider what our new supposedly centrist president has said and done in the short time he’s been in the Oval Office:

  • Contrary to mounds of evidence that his words and actions have encouraged migrants from Central America to head north to the United States, he has taken no blame for the crisis on our southern border — absolutely no blame whatsoever. Instead, he says it’s all Trump’s fault. How does this unite the country?

  • He has said that governors who want to reopen their states for business and not require their citizens to wear masks whenever they leave their homes are behaving like Neanderthals. How does this bring the two sides closer together?

  • He pushed through Congress a nearly $2 trillion spending bill masquerading as COVID-19 relief legislation without a single Republican vote. Other multitrillion-dollar spending bills containing lots of goodies on the Democratic wish list are likely to follow and very well may pass along party lines, too. How does that encourage unity?

  • He has called Georgia’s new voting law “Jim Crow on steroids.” Whether you think the law restricts voting rights or simply beefs up voting integrity, what it’s not is Jim Crow 2.0 — or anything else resembling the racist, ugly history of Jim Crow that prevailed in the bad old days of the old South. How does comparing Republicans to racists heal the wounds that divide us?

  • He said he would “strongly support” a decision by Major League Baseball to move its All-Star Game out of Atlanta as a protest against that same Georgia voting law. Two days later, the commissioner of baseball obliged. How does dragging our national pastime into the partisan political arena calm things down? And as former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent inconveniently asked: “If Georgia is racist, how can baseball talk of doing business with China?” 

It’s true that elections have consequences, but big decisions require electoral mandates, and mandates require big margins of victory which, as we’ve pointed out, Biden did not receive last November. If we had an honest mainstream media, one that wasn’t such an embarrassing ally of the Democratic Party, more Americans would understand how, in his own seemingly friendly way, Joe Biden sold the nation a bunch of malarkey with all his talk of unity and moderation.

I recently wrote in this space that while Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' Democrats hit crucial stretch as filibuster fight looms GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories MORE (I-Vt.) lost his party’s nomination, he still managed to win the presidency — because Biden, despite his centrist promises, is doing all he can to implement Bernie’s progressive agenda to transform the United States. Since I wrote that and have witnessed President BidenJoe BidenSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy MORE in action, I now have second thoughts. Unfortunately, they’re exactly the same as my first thoughts.

Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.