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EDITORIAL: Good grief: Biden says he’s ‘outperformed’ expectations

For Democrats, the Beltway is fast becoming their own version of Fantasy Island. Cloistered inside their own bubble, they’ve developed an alternative version of reality. Take President Joe Biden’s fading approval rating and the progressive response to the party’s Senate predicament.

Conventional wisdom on the left has it that Mr. Biden and his party would be sitting in the catbird seat with voters if only the president could guide his Build Back Better bill through Congress. Republican obstructionism, so the narrative goes, is all that stands in the way of the mountaintop.

Yet poll after poll contradicts the notion that spending another $2 trillion on a left-wing special-interest wish list is wildly popular with the electorate. If that were so, why aren’t voters taking their frustration out on Republicans rather than thumping Mr. Biden? In fact, a CBS News/YouGov released Sunday shows that the president has majority disapproval on virtually every issue, including the economy, immigration, race relations, policing and the pandemic. Almost 75 percent of those surveyed say the country is doing poorly under Mr. Biden.

Of those who disapprove of Mr. Biden’s performance, 76 percent say they would feel the same way even if Build Back Better became law.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democrats are now reduced to threatening senators in their own party. Sen. Sanders, a socialist from Vermont, said he would sanction primary challenges for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Kirsten Sinema, D-Ariz., because they won’t rubber-stamp the progressive agenda and embrace the dangerous push to radically alter rules in the upper chamber.

Neither senator is up for re-election until 2024, but the threat again illustrates the delusional thinking now driving Democratic politics. Donald Trump carried every county in West Virginia in 2020 and beat Mr. Biden there by almost 40 points. The notion that an AOC clone could win the state in a general election is laughable. And while Arizona has become less red in recent years, it’s no California. Challenging Sen. Sinema from the far left would only enhance the chances that Republicans take her seat.

Americans didn’t elect Mr. Biden as a radical reformer. Altering Senate rules to nationalize elections and passing trillions more in new spending as the debt nears $30 trillion don’t top their list of priorities no matter how much progressives wish it were so. Not when inflation is at a 40-year high and the administration’s promise to “shut down” COVID is now a punch line.

During a rare news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Biden acknowledged that he needs to “get out of this place more often,” but defended his record. “I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen,” he said. Good grief, there’s one for Bartlett’s. It may be too late for this presidency, after all.

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