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Did the Dobbs decision save Joe Biden’s presidency?


Jon Chait suggests that the key event in the remarkable turnaround for Democratic political fortunes in general, and Joe Biden’s in particular, has been the backlash to the Dobbs decision:

A month ago, Joe Biden’s presidency was on the brink of failure. His legislative agenda was moribund, the economy was teetering on the precipice of recession, and Democrats were speculating in the press about who else they could nominate for president in 2024. Biden, like Jimmy Carter, seemed destined to be remembered as a president overwhelmed by economic crosscurrents and a Democratic Congress he could not productively lead.

The situation has changed with astonishing speed. Biden has salvaged his domestic-policy agenda, his party’s base has snapped out of its torpor, and the economy is showing signs it just might pull through. And while not all these developments are his own doing, nor do they completely extinguish the political danger he faces, they all redound to his benefit. In the span of a few weeks, Biden’s presidency is back from the dead and looking something close to triumphant.

The event that triggered the turnaround was the decision by five Republican Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade. In so doing, the Court’s right wing disregarded the advice of its more cautious chief justice, John Roberts, who reportedly tried in vain to steer his colleagues toward an incrementalist strategy that would avoid a backlash.

As Jon points out, a number of electoral outcomes in the last few weeks suggest this is the case.

The biggest unknown here is to what extent, if any, this backlash played in Joe Manchin’s sudden reversal, that made the IRA possible. I suspect it may have well played a role. Manchin is among other things a pretty canny weatherman — how else could he have survived in a state that Trump won by more than 30 points in 2020? — and he didn’t need to be one over the last few weeks to perceive the way the wind was blowing in the wake of the reaction to the Furious Five’s increasingly extremist agenda.

In any case, as this week’s fresh developments make clear the summer of 2022 is shaping up as a watershed moment in American politics for a number of reasons.

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