It’s hard to imagine how President Biden’s own party could make him look any weaker.
Twice this month, Mr. Biden has traveled to the U.S. Capitol to beseech House Democrats to vote for his two-part domestic agenda.
And both times, Democrats’ answer to the president was essentially, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
The second very public rejection by his own party took place Thursday, hours before Mr. Biden departed the U.S. for high-profile summits in Rome and Glasgow, Scotland.
Presidents like to project authority when leaving our shores, so Mr. Biden’s message to House Democrats on Thursday morning was: The world is watching us and wondering whether we can function.
And the party’s answer was a big, fat N-O.
Adding to Mr. Biden’s humiliation, he went on national TV after the meeting to announce that Democrats had agreed on a “framework” to move forward. But you could tell from Mr. Biden’s first words that he really wasn’t sure.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that after months of tough and thoughtful negotiations, I think we have a historic,” the president said before correcting himself. “I know we have a historic economic framework.”
House Speaker and chief cat-herder Nancy Pelosi, who had vowed to hold open a floor vote as long as necessary to force progressives to make their choice, postponed the vote late Thursday after all.
She and the president simply didn’t have the votes. Again.
And we won’t even talk about the gazillion face-to-face meetings that the president has hosted in the past few months with Democrats at the White House, said to be the biggest home-court advantage in the world.
Forget about opposition Republicans. It’s now painfully clear to the country, and the world, that Mr. Biden and Mrs. Pelosi can’t even manage the progressive-moderate split in their own party.
“People are frustrated right now,” said nine-term Rep. Jim Costa, California Democrat. “There’s a lack of trust and you got a lot of members here that have been here four years or less and they don’t seem to understand how you get things done.”
Or maybe they do, and it’s the old guard that doesn’t.
It was the third time that Mrs. Pelosi had abandoned plans for a vote in the face of progressives’ objections.
Before she punted, Mrs. Pelosi had gushed about the marvelous legislative work in progress.
“It’s remarkable. It’s remarkable in that it’s a big vision, bigger vision than we’ve seen in a very long time, maybe dating back to President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal,” she said of the president’s plan.
So remarkable, in fact, that her own party couldn’t be persuaded to vote for one part without the other.
During the closed-door meeting with her troops Thursday morning, Mrs. Pelosi urged Democrats not to embarrass Mr. Biden as he departed for Europe.
Mission not accomplished.