President Biden invited me to lunch at the White House last Monday. But it was all off the record, so I can’t tell you what he said.
What I can tell you is two things: what I ate and what I felt afterwards. I had a tuna and tomato salad sandwich on whole wheat bread, with a bowl of assorted fruit and a chocolate milkshake for dessert which was so good it should be banned.
What I felt next was: for all the headliners of the Fox who say Biden can’t put two sentences together, here’s a story: he just brought together NATO, Europe and the entire western alliance – which stretches from Canada to Finland to Japan – to help Ukraine to protect its fledgling democracy from the fascist onslaught of Vladimir Putin.
In doing so, he enabled Ukraine to inflict significant casualties on the invading Russian army, through rapid deployment of US and NATO trainers and massive transfers of precision weapons. And not a single American soldier was lost.
It was the best performance in managing and building the alliance since another president I have covered and admired, who was also said to be unable to reconcile two sentences: George HW Bush. Bush helped manage the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, without firing a shot or losing a single American life.
However, I left our lunch with a full stomach, but a heavy heart.
Biden didn’t say it in that many words, but he didn’t have to. I heard it between the lines: he fears that even if he brought the West together, he could not bring America together.
This is clearly your priority, above any provision in your plan Building back better. And he knows that’s why he was elected: Most Americans feared the country was falling apart and that this old workaholic named Biden, with his bipartisan instincts, was the best person to bring us together. This is why he decided to apply in the first place, because he knows that without a fundamental objective and a willingness to compromise, nothing else is possible.
But with each passing day, with each mass shooting, with each racist whistle, with each police defunding initiative, with each Supreme Court decision that sinks the nation, with each speaker expelled from a campus, with every fraudulent voter misrepresentation, I wonder if you can get us together. I wonder if it’s not too late.
I’m afraid we’ll break something very valuable very soon. And once we’ve broken it, it’s gone, and we may never be able to get it back.
I refer to our ability to transfer power peacefully and legitimately, a capability we have demonstrated since our founding. The peaceful and legitimate transfer of power is the cornerstone of American democracy. If it breaks down, none of our institutions will function for long and we will be plunged into political and financial chaos.
At this moment we are examining this abyss. Because it’s one thing to elect Donald Trump and the pro-Trump candidates who want to restrict immigration, ban abortions, cut corporate taxes, pump more oil, stop sex education in schools, and free citizens of mask mandates in the event of a pandemic. These are policies where there can be legitimate disagreement, which is what politics is all about.
But the recent primaries and surveys of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection are telling. a decision by Trump and his supporters that is not driven by a cohesive set of policies, but by a gigantic lie: that Biden did not win in a free and fair way the majority of votes in the Electoral College and that, therefore, he is an illegitimate president.
Therefore, their top priority is installing candidates whose primary loyalty is to Trump and his Big Lie – not the Constitution. And they’re more than implying that in any close election in 2024 – or even ones not that close – they’d be prepared to deviate from established constitutional rules and regulations and attribute that election to Trump or President Donald Trump. other Republican candidates who didn’t actually win. the greatest number of votes. They don’t whisper this platform. They run for office with her.
In short, we are witnessing a national movement that tells us publicly and loud and clear LET’S GO.
And it terrifies me because I’ve been there.
My formative experience in journalism was watching Lebanese politicians go there in the late 1970s and plunge their fragile democracy into protracted civil war. So don’t tell me it can’t happen here.
Not when the likes of Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano — a Holocaust denier who marched with the crowd on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 — just won the Republican Party (GOP) primary. to run for governor. Make no mistake: these people will never do what Al Gore did in 2000: submit to the decision of the courts in an extremely close election and recognize their opponent as the rightful president.. And they will never do what principled Republicans running for office or serving as election officials did after the 2020 election: accept votes as tabulated in their states, accept court orders who confirmed that there were no material irregularities and allow Biden to take power legitimately.
It makes my stomach turn to see how many Trump Republicans are running for office claiming his big lie, when we know they know, we know they know they don’t believe a word they say. The same goes for Dr. Oz and JD Vance and so many others. However, they are ready to jump on the Trump train to gain power. And they do it without even blushing.
It reached its lowest point, in my opinion, when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, so obsessed with becoming Speaker of the House at any cost, actually lied telling the truth .
McCarthy has publicly denied that immediately after Jan. 6 he explicitly told fellow Republicans (and in a recording) that he expected Trump to be impeached for inspiring the insurrection and that McCarthy had intend to tell him to resign.
Who have you met in your life who lied to tell the truth?
And that brings me back to my lunch with Biden. It’s clear that he regrets that we built a global alliance to support Ukraine, reverse the Russian invasion, and uphold America’s fundamental principles abroad – the right to freedom and self-determination of all people – while the GOP is abandoning our most cherished principles at home.
That’s why many Allied leaders privately told Biden, as he and his team relaunched the Western alliance from the splintered pieces Trump left it in, “Thank God: America is back. “. And then they add: “But for how long?”
Biden cannot answer this question. Because WE cannot answer this question.
Biden is not without blame in this dilemma, and neither is the Democratic Party – particularly its far-left wing.. Under pressure to revive the economy and facing great demands from the far left, Biden has pursued expansionary spending for too long. House Democrats have also sullied one of Biden’s most significant bipartisan achievements — a giant infrastructure bill — by holding him hostage to other overspending demands. The far left has also charged Biden and all Democratic candidates with hard-line notions like “defunding the police,” a nonsensical mantra that would have hurt the Democratic Party’s black and Hispanic base, especially if enforced.
To defeat Trumpism, we just need, say, 10% of Republicans to leave their party and join a center-left Biden, which is what he was elected to do and remains in his heart. But we may not even get 1% of Republicans to change their vote if far-left Democrats are seen as defining the future of the party.
So I left my lunch with the President with a full stomach, but a heavy heart.