Politico Playbook in its various manifestations is something like a rooting section for Democrats. Trying to understand where the nascent infrastructure fiasco is at, I turn to Eugene Daniels Playbook report dated yesterday morning:
This could’ve been a celebratory moment for the White House. President JOE BIDEN finally — finally! — got his bipartisan deal on infrastructure, last week’s trip to Europe went well, the pandemic is easing, the country is opening back up, and a new Fox News poll has his approval rating at 56%.
Instead, the White House spent Friday in cleanup mode after moderate Senate Republicans fumed over Biden’s threat not to sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless the much more expensive, partisan-crafted reconciliation bill landed on his desk at the same time.
My colleagues Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki have a readout of the whole messy episode at the White House on Friday: “With Republicans threatening to abandon the deal, STEVE RICCHETTI, one of Biden’s lead negotiators, who a day earlier had been credited by the president for his efforts shepherding the deal, scrambled to contain the fallout on Capitol Hill. Both he and LOUISA TERRELL, the White House top congressional liaison, told the Senators involved in negotiations that Biden was enthusiastic about the deal and would soon hit the road to tout its benefits as well as the merits of bipartisanship. According to two sources familiar with his efforts, Ricchetti told Republicans that the White House was going to clarify the comments.
“A White House official disputed the notion that Ricchetti suggested Biden may have misspoke — an impression that those two sources said was left. The official said that the president’s team anticipated dustups during the early phases of the process and noted that White House press secretary JEN PSAKI several times during Friday’s briefing took a softer tone than Biden did on Thursday.”
Think of it as the “moonwalk” approach to damage control: The White House is trying to walkback without appearing like they’re walking back.
It’s clear that the White House knows they messed this one up. The threat to veto the bipartisan bill hasn’t been repeated by staff or the president since his initial remarks, and a readout of his call with Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) said “the President also reiterated that he would fight to pass the Bipartisan Agreement, as he committed to the group,” and that he “looks forward to signing both these bills.”
Politico of course discreetly avoids the obvious evidence of Biden’s declining mental faculties embedded in this episode, but what about Biden’s Republican partners? They appear to have signed off on a deal that represents a staged defeat of massive proportions. What’s their excuse? Paul Mirengoff’s attempt to sort it out left us hanging on a the edge of a cliff, and that is approximately where we are again today.
Here is the statement of “Joe Biden,” via this morning’s Playbook here. Burgess Everett separately reports “Republicans back on board after Biden’s infrastructure clean-up” (“with Republicans praising his newly clarified approach to their bipartisan infrastructure plan and a key Democrat endorsing work on a separate, larger spending package”). What manner of “compromise” is this? It’s a sad situation.