The Blob vs. the Pod: Biden team battles the Obama gang

Source: Politics

Less than 72 hours removed from a debate performance by President Joe Biden that was widely seen as catastrophic, top members his campaign team are lashing out at the president’s Democratic critics — meeting expressions of grief, dread and fear over the debate with mockery directed at onetime allies.

In a fundraising email sent on Saturday night, deputy Biden campaign manager Rob Flaherty blasted “some self-important Podcasters,” a not-so-veiled reference to “Pod Save America” hosts Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Dan Pfeiffer and Jon Lovett, all former aides to President Barack Obama who sounded inconsolable on their Thursday-night podcast episode.

The so-called bedwetters are at it again, the campaign says. And they’re wrong, just like before.

There are a few problems with that. One is that the “bedwetters” were right to panic about losing to Donald Trump in 2016. Another is that you’re asking voters to distrust what they themselves witnessed from Biden on Thursday night. And yet another is that this criticism misses a vital point: They don’t want to be having this conversation, either. They wish the debate meltdown didn’t happen. They like Biden, love his policies and think he’s been great at the job.

“We’re the Democratic Party and we are the ones trying to fight for a democracy where you can disagree in thoughtful ways without being disagreeable, trust people to be adults and have a conversation,” Favreau told POLITICO in a phone call on Sunday morning. “They seem to think that if there’s any criticism out there, it’s bad. My view is it’s OK to have this conversation now. I’d rather have it now than in October.”

“President Biden himself says the future of American democracy is at stake, and it would be irresponsible not to have a conversation about how best to win,” Vietor added in a text to Playbook. “This is not a few Beltway wimps acting squishy. These are broadly held concerns across the electorate.”

Favreau told POLITICO that it’s not about Biden’s ability to be president. He believes that he can do the job. He is concerned about Biden’s ability to change the dynamics of the race between now and November. “It’s up to the candidate” to be able to do that no matter how good the campaign staff is, he said.

Then there’s James Carville, the famous Democratic strategist who managed President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign.

He conceded that he doesn’t know if Biden will be the nominee come November. But nothing he’s seen since the debate has changed his mind: “I think he shouldn’t be,” Carville told us, hours after his name was used for a Biden campaign fundraising text. “Goddamn, in politics you gotta give the people what they want sometimes.”

Carville said it’s possible he could lose money and even friends for being so blunt. He told POLITICO that he’s gotten calls over the last few days from senior Democrats telling him that he needs to cut it out because he’s not being helpful right now. But the most important caveat: “No one says, ‘You’re wrong.’”

Already, there are signs that attempts to circle the wagons around Biden are at best incomplete, with lingering doubts in some of Washington’s most powerful quarters.

Even as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries appeared on Sunday morning talk shows to rally support behind the president, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) went further than most elected Democrats during his own appearance on MSNBC’s “Velshi.”

“There was a big problem with Joe Biden’s debate performance,” Raskin said. “There are very honest and serious and rigorous conversations taking place at every level of our party. … We’re having a serious conversation about what to do. One thing I can tell you is that regardless of what President Biden decides, our party is going to be unified … Whether he’s the candidate or someone else is the candidate, he is going to be the keynote speaker at our convention. He will be the figure that we rally around to move forward and beat the forces of authoritarianism and reaction in the country.”

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