Biden is expertly turning Republicans who underestimated him against each other: Politico founder
President Joe Biden at the White House Correspondents Association dinner in 2022. (Photo by Nicholas kamm for AFP)

According to the founding editor of Politico, Republicans -- and some Democrats -- underestimated President Joe Biden and his political skills as he has bounced back and created even more chaos within the Republican Party.

As John Harris wrote on Thursday, after a steady drumbeat of Biden's declining popularity in the polls, a string of successes and presidential announcements have turned his fortunes around and now he has successfully baited Republicans into turning on each other.

According to the editor, "Among the events that have helped Biden make the case for himself and his party, even as they were mostly or entirely out of his control, are the Supreme Court’s decision revoking abortion rights, the global retreat of gas prices from their peaks earlier in the year, and former President Donald Trump’s mounting legal problems and flailing response to them.

Citing baseball legend Branch Rickey's suggestion that "Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best,” Harris maintained that Biden "is now belatedly passing the Rickey test — smart and lucky are re-enforcing each other, as shown in recent polls."

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Pointing out that the president has quelled unrest from the Democratic far-left, Harris suggested that Biden speech about "MAGA Republicans" has successfully divided the GOP.

"Most Democrats do not believe there is any longer a meaningful distinction between the “Trump wing” of the GOP and the party as a whole, minus a few outliers. What’s more, most of Biden’s party — surely most of his own staff — is nearly as contemptuous of Republicans who loathe Trump but enable him out of fear or the desire for conservative judges as they are of Trump himself," he wrote before adding, "That’s why it was notable how strongly Biden emphasized in his well-received speech at Independence Hall last week that he does still draw a distinction between 'MAGA Republicans' and the GOP as a whole."

Noting that Biden told a national TV audience, "I want to be very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans," Harris pointed out that the president was playing smart politics.

"No, Biden is not really that naïve," he suggested. "He doesn’t think in a viscerally partisan climate he will actually pull some Republicans to his side. But he does know that he can more effectively exploit GOP divisions with that kind of rhetoric, while direct attacks would unite the opposition. Recent polls also show that independents who took flight from Biden and Democrats are now returning."

Harris also noted that Biden is turning far right extremism into a weapon against the GOP, writing that Biden, "pivoted quickly to tie Trump’s demagoguery to the conservative agenda broadly. His obvious aim was to frame his own policies — support for abortion rights, infrastructure and health care spending, and gun control — as self-evidently in the mainstream."

You can read more here.

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