‘Cockeyed Optimist’ Biden Reaches Across the Aisle to Republicans

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U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) at Carpenters International Training Center on November 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. [Bridget Bennett/Getty Images]

Biden’s prediction partially ‘vindicated.’

As the prospects for his Democratic Party in the midterm elections worsened, U.S. President Joe Biden insisted that things would get better.

He was somewhat proven right this weekend when Democrats preserved control of the U.S. Senate, defying history, media forecasts, and pundits who said people would concern more with gas prices than Biden’s warnings that equality and democracy were in jeopardy.

“I know I’m a cockeyed optimist,” Biden said in Cambodia, referring to a sunny song from the musical South Pacific, “but I’m not surprised by the turnout,” he added, adding that his next move will be to reach out to Republicans.

Holding control of the Senate and improving prospects in the House give the Biden White House head room to win approval for judicial and other nominees and give Democrats a better chance of passing more funding for Ukraine and social programs in the United States.

Voters consider conspiracy theorists who want to take over elections as too radical, which confirms Biden’s long-held conviction that a Cohesive America is more united and moderate than recent history suggests. When asked what the Democrats would do next, Biden responded, “I’d rather talk with the Republican leadership when that’s settled about what we’ll try to get done in the lame duck and just take it slow in terms of the priorities are.”

President Joe Biden of the United States attends a working session on food and energy security during the G20 Summit on November 15, 2022 in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. The G20 meetings are being held in Bali from November 15-16. [Leon Neal/Getty Images]

Midterm elections and America’s global standing

Since leaving Washington on Thursday for climate, ASEAN, and G20 summit, Biden has called home often to congratulate Democrat candidates who won their races. This includes Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, whose victory in Nevada assured the Democrats’ majority, and Chuck Schumer, who was elected Senate Majority Leader.

A Democratic victory in a runoff election for the Georgia Senate on December 6 would give the party complete authority over committees, bills, and judges. Republicans were still on the verge of capturing control of the House, though, as authorities continued to tally ballots and returns for numerous races were still rolling in.

As of Sunday night, Republicans had won 211 seats, while Democrats had won 206. A majority of 218 seats is required.

The national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters on Air Force One that international leaders at an ASEAN summit in East Asia warned Biden that they are closely monitoring the election results.

Sullivan stated that one issue that emerged during the two days was the strength of American democracy and what the election communicated about it. He also said that Biden believes it offers him a strong position on the international scene.

Chuck Schumer makes an appearance after winning his reelection campaign for Senate on November 8, 2022 in New York City. [Alex Kent/Getty Images]

Red wave, red mirage, and priorities over political priorities

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said Biden planned to meet with Senate and House leaders, but she didn’t say when.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader, said he would reach out to Republicans who disagreed with former President Donald Trump’s “extreme agenda.” Schumer was frank when asked why he felt they’d listen this time.

“Because they lost,” Schumer said on CNN. “The red wave proved a red mirage.”

On Sunday, Biden traveled to the Indonesian island of Bali to meet with President Xi Jinping and other leaders from the G20 major economies. He’ll be back in Washington on Thursday. He has stated that he will invite Republicans and Democrats to the White House when he returns.

Biden’s top priorities, according to Jean-Pierre, are preventing a government shutdown, safeguarding Medicare and Social Security, protecting abortion rights and marriage equality, and working with Republicans to keep pushing his program forward.

Anita Dunn, a senior White House adviser, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Biden will continue to build on his track record of achieving bipartisan infrastructure legislation and the first big gun law in over 30 years. “He’s come a long way, but he still has a long way to go,” she remarked.

Dunn stated that it had been challenging to move forward on legislative priorities during Biden’s first two years in office because the Senate was divided 50-50 and the House had a relatively thin majority. Nonetheless, some significant laws have been enacted.

“The reality is that the American people want progress,” she added, noting that they want people to work together and that their leaders in Washington put their priorities first, not necessarily partisan priorities.

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