tv Washington Journal Paul Waldman CSPAN July 18, 2022 1:43pm-2:00pm EDT
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guest: this is a problem every president faces. bad news is inherently more newsworthy than good news. the price of gas has fallen between $.30 and $.40 of last month which is a pretty precipitous drop. what you do not see our hundreds and hundreds of new stories where they put up pictures of the signs with gas prices and people talking about how much this will benefit joe biden. when gas prices were going up, we saw exactly the opposite. all kinds of speculation about how it would affect him and his approval rating. the truth is he did not have much to do with gas prices dropping just like he did not have much to do with gas prices going up in the first place. the president gets the blame for pretty much everything that goes wrong. that is especially true at a moment like this.
when you knew you have problem like inflation that is complicated and you of democrats often a more inherently fractious party then republicans, on the one hand, when reporters are writing those news stories, you have a unified opposition will say whatever bad is happening, whether it is inflation or foreign crisis, it is all the president's fault -- it is not all the president spoke. -- another problem that he has is governing is inherently difficult and there is this famous quote from mary of cuomo who said we campaign in poetry and govern in prose. people run for president and they promised all kinds of things and they paint a picture of the world in which every problem we have will get solved, and then they get into office
and things are extremely difficult and especially for democrats. keep in mind they are the party of government. when republicans get elected they want to cut taxes and do a couple of other things. they did not have complicated legislative plans. the democrats usually do. then they run into the difficulties of legislating in congress. there is something else to keep in mind with joe biden stop everyone knows he has small majorities in the house and the senate. i do not think people appreciate how unprecedented it has been. there has not been a democratic president going all the way back to andrew jackson who came into office with congressional majorities as narrow as one joe biden faced when he came into office. he has no room for maneuver.
that means legislating will be really hard -- the process is full of setbacks and frustrations and then you see his base get rested up and dissatisfied. that becomes the subject of more new stories. i'm not saying joe biden could not have done things better, but so many things about the system are set up to make him look like he is struggling, whether he is or not. he is in some ways. he has a lot of things stacked against him in a way -- when there not a lot of things like inflation -- host: our guest is with us until 10:00. (202) 748-8000 for democrats,
republicans (202) 748-8001, independents (202) 748-8002. let me flip it a little bit. what does joe biden have going for him? guest: at this point not a lot. you can look at his approval ratings which are pretty low, around 40%. if you think back on other recent presidents come this is about where they were. presidents would look back on like barack obama, bill clinton, ronald reagan. at this stage of their presidencies they were in roughly the same spot. their approval ratings were low. if it looks at the opposition party would build a big midterm, and also as presidents, reagan and obama and clinton all recovered to win a second term. george w. bush is a special case because of 9/11. you see the pattern over and over.
one of the things it shows is the public is fickle in many ways. there is always an evan flow. what we see is republicans will win one house or two houses in the midterm elections. they will then make a lot of people unhappy with what they are doing with the majority, and then biden could cruise to reelection just like those previous presidents did. host: one of the issues is the issue of abortion, project lead after the roe v. wade decision. a lot of people looking for the president to do things that could counteract that, more than what he could do. what is the administration to think of this issue and where should it go as far as counteracting what the supreme court did? guest: if you talk to the administration their argument is we are doing everything we can. he can issue some executive orders that govern the policies
of the executive branch, but he cannot single-handedly pass a national codification of roe v. wade. they're not 50 votes in the senate to do that. there's only so much he can do. often biden's first impulse, he is an institutionalist, he is someone very focused on what government is capable of. his first impulse in some of these situations is to say this is going to be hard and i can. that is often not the kind of thing that his own supporters want. they want people to know he is really fighting and he is aggressively trying to satisfy their demands. he is reading not constitutionally inclined to give his supporters what they want. when he says you have to go out
and vote, that is true. if democrats want to change the legal situation with abortion, they need to get the right governments elected, they need to turn some state legislatures, they need to maintain control of the senate and the executive branch so they can reverse some of what has happened with the judiciary. none of that is possible without voting. voting is the base level, i have heard a lot of different metaphors. it is the first thing you have to do before you do anything else. stacey abrams says voting is not magic but it is medicine. you have to keep taking it. you have to think about it a lot of different ways. when the base years leaders of their party say you just have to go out and vote, that is not what you want to hear. they say we voted and we are still at this point.
part of the problem is that that is bidens impulse. he says something that is true but not thing his base wants to hear. one argument in his favor as this is what the right did. this is why we are in this moment. they never stop voting. when they decided it was their goal to overturn roe v. wade, they spent decades working on it and they voted and they made it possible in their party to win a primary -- they made it impossible 20 primary their party without being 100% antiabortion and they did not think they would get the change they wanted in a year. they realized it was going to take a long time and so they kept working. that is why we are at this point. to say to people you have to build a movement that will play out over the course of decades is often not the most satisfying answer.
he is in a position where it is very difficult for him to satisfy the emotional needs of his supporters, both in terms of the power he has in terms of his own inclinations. host: our first call comes from georgia. this is amelia, democrats line. you're on with paul waldman. caller: what i wanted to say is democrats have a problem with messaging. if they would do their messaging a little better -- just the republicans are trying to do away with medicare and social security. this is rick scott and mitt romney. people do not understand stop the republicans are for less tax
but they do not understand the implication this has for working people. when you have less taxes, issues like tornadoes and hurricanes, they will need the money to fix your home or fix your cities. the republicans are for the rich and the corporations and they have been trying years. the democrats did social security and medicare and they opposed it. what they're trying to do now is do away with these things. host: mr. waldman? guest: the caller points to something that is important. gallup recently measured trust in institutions, they asked people how much faith they have it all sorts of institutions, they found trust in institutions is at its lowest point since you have been asked to the questions
-- that is a situation that is very good for republicans. they are part of the party that say government is bad and you are on your around. the more things feel out of control, the better that is for republicans. first because democrats control the federal government right now. also because it plays into the general conservative ideology that says you are on your around , that you cannot rely on the government to help you come you cannot rely another institutions to help you. the more it feels like those institutions are not providing for you and not solving the problems, the more it seems like the republican argument is right. you have a situation where there is a lot of that kind of sense. anything that goes wrong, we have the pandemic lingering for years, we have inflation, there are bad things going on around the world, it contributes to a
sense things are out of control and that enables republicans to say nobody will help you and we should just elect people who will mirror your anger about whatever it is you are mad about. that is an inherent structural advantage. if you are the party that does not believe in government, you do not have to do much once you get power because you did not set a great deal of expectations. your expectations were just i will say i am mad about the things you are mad about. that is part of the power of donald trump with republican party. sure he may have set we will have so much winning, things like that, but he did not make that any specific promises. for so many of his supporters, just getting elected was the fulfillment of the promise. he said there are people you
hate, i hate them, too, and we will give them a giant middle finger, and that is what his election was. that, as far as that was concerned, was a success. policy changes were just frothing on the cake. it is another way where democrats have inherently more difficult task when they get elected then republicans to. host: mike in california, independent line. caller: how can this guy say biden has nothing to do with the gas price hike is ridiculous. when he get into office he declared war on the energy companies in the united states. vladimir putin saw that and smiled, and then the way he left afghanistan, he caused the war. he saw how weak he was, he knew he could get away with anything. for this guy to say biden had nothing to do with the gas
prices is completely insane. he had everything to do with that. he had everything to do with the start of the war because prudent saw how weak he was he when in a did everything he wants like he is still doing now. biden -- everybody is laughing at us now. caller: -- guest: it is a good indication on the propensity to blame everything on the other side's president. gas is a global market. we have plenty of oil production in the united states. none of the tentative steps the biden administration made had any real impact on the amount of oil being produced. the oil companies, if you ask them, they are much more concerned about wall street and what their investors want them to do in terms of their production than what the president says or what some
proposed environmental regulation might do. as for vladimir putin's decision to invade ukraine, there is an american disease where we think anything that happens in the world must be because of what we think and what we do. the fact is people all over the world have their own incentives and their own goals. vladimir putin had his own reasons for wanting to invade ukraine, and he decided he was going to do it. now there are very few options the president has. there's nothing in the world joe biden would like more than to bring down the price of gas. if there is anything he could do to do it he would try. right now his options are very limited. host: here is wynonna from vermont. >> we're leaving this program to keep our more than 40-year commitment to live coverage of congress. thho