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Joe Biden won’t fire his all-powerful, Master of Disaster, Chief of Staff Ron Klain, says JOHN FUND


The biggest news President Biden made at his news conference wasn’t about Ukraine

It was his brief answer to the question: ‘Are you satisfied with your team here at the White House, sir?’ 

Biden, to the consternation of observers in both parties, answered curtly: ‘I am satisfied with the team.’

For Washington insiders, the decision to keep his current team into his second year as president is inexplicable.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican not known for his partisanship, called on Biden to fire his chief of staff, Ron Klain, for pushing a ‘guaranteed-to-fail vote’ on killing the Senate filibuster that he argued as a political ploy. 

‘It’s CYA (cover your ass) week in Washington,’ Sasse told Fox News. He said the vote was held in part ‘so that Ron Klain can throw some chum at the Democratic Party’s progressive base.’

‘Ron Klain thinks his own activists are dumb enough to fall for it.’ 

Sasse focused on Klain, because it’s common knowledge that the 60-year-old backroom operator has unusual power in the Biden White House.

Klain first worked with Biden in 1987, when he was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee while Biden was chair and assisted Biden during his ill-fated 1988 presidential campaign. That campaign ended after Biden was caught plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, head of Britain’s Labour Party.

Klain later served as Biden’s chief of staff when he was Barack Obama’s vice president. 

As President Biden’s chief of staff he has been dubbed ‘the most influential chief of staff of recent vintage’ in an admiring New York Times profile and The Master of Disaster by his critics. 

Even the Times profile had to concede that ‘Klain comes off as a purebred (Washington) swamp creature’ who might have trouble connecting with large swaths of the country. 

A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found only about a quarter of American adults were very confident that Biden ‘has the mental capability to serve effectively as president’ or ‘is healthy enough to serve effectively as president.’

Klain (above left) first worked with Biden in 1987, when he was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee while Biden was chair and assisted Biden during his ill-fated 1988 presidential campaign. (Pictured above) Klain serving as chief of staff to then-Vice President Joe Biden

Klain (above left) first worked with Biden in 1987, when he was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee while Biden was chair and assisted Biden during his ill-fated 1988 presidential campaign. (Pictured above) Klain serving as chief of staff to then-Vice President Joe Biden

Several Senate Democrats have privately questioned Klain’s role in losing the votes of Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on both the Build Back Better bill and Biden’s efforts to limit the Senate filibuster, which creates a 60-vote threshold to advance bills. 

Both Senators have dissed Biden on the filibuster in recent days before Wednesday’s dramatic 52 to 48 Senate vote rejecting efforts to limit it. 

Last week, Sinema took to the Senate floor and gave a 20-minute speech defending the filibuster just minutes before Biden came to Capitol Hill to urge a caucus of all Senate Democrats to back him on the issue. 

He appeared weak and ineffectual. 

This week, Manchin took to the Senate floor to defend his pro-filibuster views in the middle of Biden’s first news conference in 10 months – prompting a couple of networks to diminish the President by showing both men simultaneously on a split screen. 

Manchin is apparently still privately seething from last month when the White House went out of its way to attack him for his failure to support the president’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki effectively called Manchin a liar and his opposition ‘a breach of his commitments to the president.’ 

In turn, Manchin complained to West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval that White House staff brought him to his ‘wit’s end’ when they ‘put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable.’

He continued, ‘Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from, and they can’t just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive. Period.’

Kercheval says Manchin’s stance surprised him because anyone who knows his career says ‘he wants a deal, he craves a deal.’ 

Kercheval cites Jonathan Knott, Manchin’s former press secretary, as telling him ‘that whoever is on the other side just needs to help Manchin get to ‘yes.’ 

Everyone agrees that the man who messed up negotiations with Manchin so badly was Ron Klain, who managed to convert the prospect of a deal with Manchin into a burnt-out cinder. 

So why won’t Biden get rid of Klain and start over? 

One former Democratic Senator told me that ‘Under any similar situation in another White House, there would be a staff cleaning and the arrival of new advisers.’ 

But perhaps this is not a typical situation. 

Perhaps the staff can’t get fired if it’s in more-or-less in charge of the boss. 

That’s not just idle talk. 

Biden dismissed a question at his news conference from Newsmax correspondent James Rosen asking him about a Politico/Morning Consult poll that found that 49 percent of voters don’t agree Biden is ‘mentally fit.’

Klain's most immediate management problem is the breakdown of the White House's messaging. Press secretary Jen Psaki is stumbling more frequently trying to deliver the daily party line. (Above) Klain, Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2021.

Klain’s most immediate management problem is the breakdown of the White House’s messaging. Press secretary Jen Psaki is stumbling more frequently trying to deliver the daily party line. (Above) Klain, Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2021.

In fact — stunningly — only 43 percent of voters, who supported Biden in 2020, ‘strongly agree’ that he is ‘mentally fit.’

The poll also found that 37 percent concurred with the statement that Biden ‘is in good health.’ That’s down slightly from a previous Politico poll in November that found only 40 percent of voters agreed with the statement. 

A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found only about a quarter of American adults were very confident that Biden ‘has the mental capability to serve effectively as president’ or ‘is healthy enough to serve effectively as president.’ 

Nearly 50 percent doubt that Biden is either mental fit or healthy enough to handle his job. 

The suspicions linger that Biden has slowed down and is increasingly reliant on aides. 

Chief among Biden whisperers is Klain, who has been blamed for giving the green light to Biden’s disastrously partisan speech in Georgia last week, in which the president compares opponents of his voting rights bill to segregationists like George Wallace and Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Even Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, admitted that Biden went ‘a little too far’ in his rhetoric. 

Another Klain mistake came in November when he blindsided House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by having Biden travel to Capitol Hill to personally ask for progressives to vote for the president’s infrastructure bill.

Biden instead rambled on about the bill but didn’t ask for the votes to pass it. 

Politico reports that top Democratic leaders ‘were left dumbfounded by the lack of a direct ask from Biden’ and had to cancel the vote for the second time in a month. (The bill eventually passed.)

Vanity Fair has reported that last October the White House decided not to ramp up free at-home rapid COVID testing in time for the holidays. 

The website on which Americans can order free tests to be mailed to their homes only went live this week, with delivery promised in 7 to 12 days – well after the Omicron variant has peaked. 

It’s not even clear Biden himself knew much about the decision not to order tests last fall. 

He told ABC News that he wished he ‘had thought about ordering’ at-home tests in October. 

But maybe that proposal never reached his ‘In’ basket – only Klain’s. 

Klain ended 2021 by having his boss appear on national television suddenly passing the buck for the administration’s haphazard COVID strategy: ‘Look, there is no federal solution. This gets solved at a state level.’ 

A year earlier, Klain himself had sent out a snarky tweet claiming ‘the central flaw of Trump’s emerging Covid response was that he was confronting a national crisis with an ‘Articles of Confederation’ response.’ 

Perhaps the staff can't get fired if it's in more-or-less in charge of the boss.

Perhaps the staff can’t get fired if it’s in more-or-less in charge of the boss.

The suspicions linger that Biden has slowed down and is increasingly reliant on aides.

The suspicions linger that Biden has slowed down and is increasingly reliant on aides.

Klain’s most immediate management problem is the breakdown of the White House’s messaging. 

Press secretary Jen Psaki is stumbling more frequently trying to deliver the daily party line. 

A competent chief of staff would not have sent out White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese to give an incoherent, rambling non-defense of Biden’s inflation policy that was actually embarrassing. 

So how is Klain explaining all the banana peels he and the Biden White House have slipped on? 

By retweeting an article from Beltway journalist Al Hunt entitled: ‘Let’s be honest: 2021 wasn’t all bad.’ 

More seriously, Klain told Politico as Biden’s first year anniversary neared: ‘It does not surprise me that despite progress on Covid, despite progress on the economy, voters are not going to give us a passing grade yet.’ 

But he sees cause for optimism: ‘President Biden was elected to a four-year term, not a one-year term.’ 

The challenge now, according to Klain, ‘is not that we have tried to do too much, but that we have more to do.’ 

That’s not how worried Democrats anxious to keep their seats in the midterm elections this November see it. 

CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports that ‘In three dozen exclusive interviews with CNN, top Democratic politicians, campaign officials and operatives say the White House political operation is heading into the midterms unprepared and unresponsive even to basic requests for help or information.’ 

He concludes that ‘those in charge of keeping Democrats in power doubt that Biden’s team understands how to improve his political fate — and with it, theirs.’ 

President Biden bears the ultimate blame for his off-the-rails administration, but let’s not forget that it’s been Ron Klain who has been there every step of the way. 

The fact that Biden is keeping him in place in his second year should tell you everything you need to know about the direction Biden is heading: down. 

And it also may tell us just how much control Biden is exercising over the White House that he is keeping his Master of Disaster in his all-powerful job. 

John Fund is a columnist at National Review. He is co-author, with Hans von Spakovsky, of the new book ‘Our Broken Elections: How The Left Changed the Way You Vote’ (Encounter Books). Or some version of that, thanks. 





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