* No lack of reminders for Joe Biden that even when you succeed the worst president in U.S. history, you don’t get a first 100-day honeymoon. Not with ever-present climate-change threats, pandemic relief challenges, racial and gender disparities and partisan, Trump-loyalist pushback. And not, for sure, with foreign affairs. As for the latter, it’s more than election-interfering Russia, the increasingly problematic behemoth that is China and European skepticism.
The Middle East is still the Muddled East, and the Biden Administration inherits the uber tricky dilemma of dealing with Saudi Arabia, nobody’s idea of what a real ally should be like. It has oil and well-proven opposition to Iran and its terrorist surrogates. They also have an authoritarian government that treats human rights with contempt and continues to carry out de facto genocide in Yemen. The Trump Administration, however, wasn’t fazed and then looked the other way on the complicity of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman in the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was writing for the Washington Post. It’s what can happen when an Administration’s “ally” is the antithesis of American values, but buys American weapons for billions of dollars.
To its credit, the Biden Administration has now released a declassified version of an intelligence report—one the previous Administration withheld from the public. It says, in part: “We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” Now what? Minor sanctions are wrist slaps. This is no time for geopolitical naivete, but it’s never the right time for enabling and appeasing moral rogues.
* Call it “Build Back Bigger.” There’s “big government,” the bete noire of conservatives and libertarians, and then there’s “big government” during a devastating pandemic where doing too little costs lives and livelihoods.
* “(President Biden) clearly believes in under-promising and over-delivering—a marked contrast with Trump.”–Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch.
* “That’s the New York spirit, that’s the Texas spirit, that’s the American spirit.”—That was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who volunteered at the Houston Food Bank and announced her fundraising effort for the storm recovery effort in the state had surpassed $5 million. You go, AOC. That’s not “Squad” grandstanding; that’s walking the walk to help those in need.
* “It remains a commitment and something he will use his political capital to get done.”–White House press secretary Jen Psaki, on President Biden still being committed to the $15-per-hour minimum wage that was dropped from the $1.9 trillion relief bill.