Analysis: Did Joe Biden go too far in his voting rights speech? This Democratic Senator thinks so.

“Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” Biden asked. “Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Paul Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis? This is the moment when you decide, to defend our elections, to defend our democracy. If you do that you will not be alone.”

For one Democratic senator, Biden’s rhetoric was exaggerated.

This is not a simple criticism of the president. Durbin is a veteran voice in the chamber, who at one point was seen as a potential leader for Senate Democrats. He is neither a critic nor a representative. Notably, he is willing to go on the record with his belief that Biden has “gone a little too far”.

The dispute is over whether Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (and Biden) can get all 50 senators in the Democratic caucus to vote to change the rules that currently require 60 votes to end the Senate’s unlimited debate in order to bring the voting rights package to the ground. .

Even before Biden gave his speech – comparing current Republican opposition to voting rights legislation to supporters of apartheid – it seemed like an unlikely proposition. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kirsten Senema, both Democrats, have made clear that they do not support deactivating any kind of legislation — including the voting rights action being pushed by Schumer. Other Democrats such as Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, Montana Senator John Tester and New Hampshire Senator Jane Shaheen all appear to be on the fence about the pending move.

It is worth asking the question, then, whether the president has obstructed rather than assisted efforts to obtain all 50 Democratic votes with stalled change. (Biden went to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with Senate Democrats about the fate of voting rights.)

Cinema, in an impassioned address to the Senate on Thursday, reiterated its opposition to changing the disruption rules.

“When one side only needs to negotiate with itself, politics will be inextricably pushed from the center to the extremists,” she said. “I understand there are some on both sides of the aisle who prefer it that way, but I don’t. Arizonans don’t.”

Now, it’s worth noting that even before Biden’s speech on Tuesday, the prospects for changing the disruption rules to deal with voting rights were highly questionable. Manchin and, to a lesser extent, Cinema were insistent – and publicly – not to get rid of the stall by using only the votes of Democrats.

Therefore, it is possible that Biden’s speech will have little negative impact on his desired audience. But it certainly doesn’t seem to have helped him either.

And Republicans — led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — immediately jumped to Biden’s tone to prove he’s overstepped. McConnell described the speech as “loud”, “incoherent”, “incorrect” and “sheer demagoguery”. He also said it was “highly non-presidential”.

McConnell is also likely to use Biden’s new openness to unwind from the disruption to voting rights legislation as a way to galvanize the Republican base ahead of this year’s midterm elections — pointing to what the Democratic-controlled Senate in 2023 could mean for conservative priorities and principles.

Given all of that, it appears – at least in the short term – that Biden’s speech earlier this week did more harm than good to his efforts to persuade the Senate to drop the stall. Which, obviously, is the opposite of what it was supposed to do.


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