For all of his pious talk about restoring “unity” in America and lowering the temperature on political discourse, President Joe Biden seems happy to perpetuate the partisan rhetoric that is deepening the national divide.
Case in point: The Washington Examiner reports that on a call with fellow Democrats Friday, the president joked that if moderate and progressive senators like Joe Manchin (WV) and Bernie Sanders (VT), respectively, were forced into the same room to hash out differences over Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill, “homicide” would be the result.
Sen. Manchin, along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), has effectively blocked that measure from passing by siding with the entirety of the upper chamber’s Republican caucus in opposition to its cost and scope.
Sen. Sanders, meanwhile, is one of the loudest proponents of the progressive spending package that, were it up to him, would have an even larger price tag.
Biden jokes about “homicide”
With an eye toward moving past the current stalemate, progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) suggested during the conference call with Biden that Sens. Manchin and Sanders should be forced to sit together in a room until they could manage to cut a deal that would satisfy both sides of the Democratic caucus.
“I just think it’s a matter of getting them in the same room,” Khanna said, according to the Examiner.
But Biden, citing his lengthy experience in politics, jokingly dismissed that proposed solution, the Examiner reported, intimating that it was akin to “homicide.”
The remark reportedly prompted laughter from others on the call.
“This is not a movie”
But such a grim response seems off-putting, particularly from a president who had vowed from Day One that he’d work to bridge political divides in America.
Worse still: Biden’s joke may not have been too far from the truth. Politico reports that Sen. Sanders has shifted into all-out attack mode against the likes of Manchin and Sinema in recent days, even questioning their true motives as the moderate lawmakers continue to buck the rest of the caucus on Biden’s agenda.
“This is not a movie,” the Vermont progressive said, suggesting he wouldn’t be open to compromising with his centrist colleagues.
“I’m not here to attack them or question their motives or anything else,” Sanders said, even as he did exactly that. “Manchin’s views, I know, are different than mine. […] But the point that I’m trying to make […] It is simply not fair, not right, that one or two people say, ‘My way or the highway.'”