The Corner

White House

‘Bigger and Faster than the Public Might Anticipate or Stomach’

Judging by the rhetoric of its elected members and its apologists in the press, the Democratic party believes itself to be the tribune of the people. Republicans, we are told, hate democracy and don’t care what voters think. Democrats, by contrast, have the public on their side, and they are only thwarted in executing their will by structural constraints — such as the Senate or the electoral college or the persistent existence of the states.

And yet, for the second day running, Axios brings us news from a series of private meetings in the White House that are characterized like this:

Hosting historians around a long table in the East Room earlier this month, President Biden took notes in a black book as they discussed some of his most admired predecessors. Then he said to Doris Kearns Goodwin: “I’m no FDR, but …

. . .

They talked a lot about the elasticity of presidential power, and the limits of going bigger and faster than the public might anticipate or stomach.

I will leave this quotation here — perhaps to sit idle for a long time — until the next time the Republican party controls all the levers in Washington, and talk of “the elasticity of presidential power” and “going bigger and faster than the public might anticipate or stomach” is cast not as a “think-big, go-big mentality,” but as the end of democracy itself.

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