Biden stuck in no-man’s land on Ukraine
How long should Americans expect to pay sky-high prices at the gas station, Joe Biden was asked at the NATO summit in Madrid last week. “As long as it takes so Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine,” the president replied.
With the economic situation deteriorating, even if gas prices have eased somewhat, Americans are not likely to find that answer especially encouraging. By Saturday, the scapegoat had changed, with Big Oil in the president’s crosshairs. “Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product. And do it now,” Biden demanded on Twitter, prompting a sharp rebuke from Jeff Bezos.
While the domestic politics of energy are already a mess for Biden, things aren’t much better on the other side of the high-prices-to-defeat-Putin equation. As the global economic picture darkens, so does the outlook in Ukraine. This weekend, Russia declared victory in Luhansk and the balance of power has swung towards Putin. As a sobering New York Times analysis explains, the artillery-heavy onslaught that brought about this Russian advance “raises serious questions about how long either side can keep going like this, particularly the battered and vastly outgunned Ukrainian forces, forced to rely on raw recruits and suffering heavy casualties, along with the mental strain of combat, retreat and constant Russian shelling.”
In the coincidence of the military momentum shift in Eastern Europe, the economic bad news and a tricky upcoming swing through the Middle East, one senses we have reached a fraught moment for Biden’s foreign policy.
The risk that the president is caught in no-man’s-land, doing enough to pay a real price in energy prices while not doing enough to help Ukraine halt Russian advances. Hawks and doves alike can recognize that danger — and agree that there is an unsettling feeling that Biden, having settled into a position of solid support for Kyiv, has no real plan as to how to help bring about an end to this war that serves US interests.
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Gavin Newsom, freedom fighter?
California governor Gavin Newsom marked July 4 with a thirty-second TV hit, not aimed at voters in his own state but those several thousand miles away in Florida. “Freedom, it’s under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” says Newsom over images of Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. Newsom then urges Floridians to “join the fight. Or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom from hate and the freedom to love.”
The ad is the latest in a series of steps Newsom has taken to launch himself as a nationwide liberal talisman. This effort is somewhat undermined by his track record at the helm of the Golden State. The revealed preferences of the American people speak for themselves. California’s population is shrinking, Florida’s is ballooning. And if you head to Miami and talk to exiles from Newsom’s California, “freedom” is not likely to be high on the list of words they associate with the state they used to call home.
In spite of it all…
As a few readers noted, Friday’s DC Diary wasn’t exactly cheery: unsolved murders, waning patriotism and a plunging stock prices. The market may not be doing much better today, and shootings in the Chicago suburbs and Philadelphia served as a fresh reminder of America’s homicide problem. But allow me to at least offer one cheerier item today.
Polling for the Archbridge Institute finds that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel as though the American Dream is within reach. Asked “to what extent do you believe your family has achieved the American Dream,” 50 percent say they are on the way to achieving it, 30 percent say it has already been achieved, and 18 percent say it is out of reach. That optimistic outlook holds across the generations, with at least three-quarters of every generation feeling as though they have either already achieved the American dream or are on their way to doing so.
What you should be reading today
Matt Purple: This great ungovernable country
Paul Mango: Why Operation Warp Speed worked
Douglas Murray: Is America about to break apart?
Walter Russell Mead, Tablet: The American Zionist dream
Jon Hilsenrath, Wall Street Journal: If the US is in a recession, it is a very strange one
Michael Knox Beran, City Journal: A return to Lincoln
President Biden job approval
Approve: 38.4 percent
Disapprove: 56.9 percent
Net approval: -18.5 (RCP Average)
North Carolina Senate race
Ted Budd (R): 48 percent
Cheri Beasley (D): 45 percent (Trafalgar)