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Democrats blew Covid’s policy – WSJ

The dictionary’s second definition of “landslide” is a stream of votes for one party over its competition. But the original, more concrete definition is a destructive mass of rocks, mud, trees and debris crashing down a mountain. There must be a New Yorker cartoon somewhere by a politician standing under the edge of a landslide, remarking, “They predict sunshine tomorrow.” Say hello to the Democrats – while they’re still standing.

Congress came back to the Washington mothership this week, and the buzz was that Democrats will move heaven and earth to give the American public a reason to vote for them in the midterm elections in November. Maybe adopt another $ 10 billion in Covid aid or fan a magic wand that erases student loan debt. Normally I would say good luck with that, but the party is without luck.

It’s time for a premortal on the House of Democrats debacle and very possible loss of Senate control.

Barack Obama, now the party’s most important oracle, said during his recent visit to the Biden White House: “You have a story to tell – you just have to tell it.” No, their story is the problem.

From the day Joe Biden took office, Democrats have shown a misreading of how the Covid-19 pandemic had changed the country’s normal political and social adjustments.

Obvious for everyone now, the pandemic forced millions to rethink everything in their lives – their jobs, children, schools where they lived, caring for elderly relatives, everyday routines.

This was a complex political and cultural event for which the democratic reaction was Pavlovian: Throw money and expect gratitude.

What the Democrats did – first 2021 $ 2 trillion Covid relief bill followed by the attempt to send $ 4.6 trillion more with Build Back Better – was an exercise in political grandiosity completely out of sync with an inward-facing public. Even now that the pandemic is ebbing in an election year, people are busy either rebuilding their lives or restructuring careers.

Democrats might say that Mr. Biden simply reproduced the FDR’s Great Depression handbook on patching holes in the social fabric. Maybe, but the depression did not include shutdowns, school closures, and masking policies.

Democrats can also argue, when they retire, how they only “follow science.” Whatever the reason, Democrats showed little understanding or sympathy for how much the pandemic’s restrictions disrupted people’s lives.

The White House anointed Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as judges for the pandemic policy. Last week, Dr. Fauci that he did not consider himself responsible to anyone outside his circle. How could the White House have seen so little danger in abdicating control of politics amid Covid’s evolving mysteries? On Wednesday, Dr. Fauci that we are “out of the pandemic phase.” Better late than never for the Democrats.

Joe Biden promised a return to normalcy. But it was about Donald Trump. There was nothing normal about the America that Mr Biden was presiding over. The social dislocations of the pandemic increased. Schools closed, and then they opened in a way of masking policies that were micro-controlled to incomprehensibility. The parents were overwhelmed. The clutter of schools alone has caused democratic losses, especially in states like New Jersey, a tinder box of rage over closed schools.

Masking became a left-right issue. But Democrats’ support for masking hurt them. Covering half of his face with cloth is an apolitical hassle, which over time eroded many who wanted out. Instead, during the last hour of the pandemic, Biden CDC, backed by the Justice Department, insisted on extending the travel mask mandate. Is that what the Democrats mean by getting their message out?

At all levels of government, the Democratic Party defended restrictions by conforming to the authority of science. Result: After living for two years under the thumb of this authority, people are looking for respite from the government, which by definition means Democrats.

President Biden’s claim that his economic recovery is unprecedented also mischaracterizes the public’s understanding of the pandemic. People know that the shutdowns suspended a strong economy. One day they had a job. So they did not. The American recovery from this mandatory downturn is natural, not a Biden miracle. Some assistance helped some people, but there is no reason why it should result in a source of support for the party.

The Washington Democrats wasted their political capital in 2021 on trying to create a once for all American justification state with Build Back Better. It became a spectacle of political failure. So Senator Elizabeth Warren, another progressive oracle, argued last weekend that the party’s survival depends on the adoption of legislation that regulates drug prices and leans on Mr. Biden to issue a large number of executive orders. Likely political resonance: around zero.

Six months before election day, this is the political landscape: Most voters see House and Senate Democrats as largely irrelevant to their lives, which today consist of climbing out of a pandemic amid rising inflation, crime and illegal border crossings.

That the Democrats are about to tumble down the mountain has nothing to do with their unheard of message and everything to do with conscious political choices.

Write to henninger@wsj.com.

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