August 21, 2021

THE MORAL EQUIVALENT OF THE WAR ROOM:

Every morning this week at 8:45, a newly established “war room” has convened at the White House, with about 20 staffers logging onto a Zoom call to coordinate messaging and deployment of critical resources.

The operation has nothing to do with the crisis in Afghanistan — it’s about keeping President Biden’s big infrastructure push on track. Even amid the fall of Kabul to the Taliban and the frantic, last-minute military operation to rescue thousands of Americans and vulnerable Afghans, the White House has maintained its overarching focus on the domestic matters it has prioritized for the last eight months.

“The No. 1 priority for our cabinet overall, from our perspective here, is to build support throughout the [August] recess process for the legislative agenda,” said Neera Tanden*, a senior advisor to the president who oversees the war room. Tasked with building support for a $1.2-trillion bipartisan infrastructure measure and the Democrats’ $3.5-trillion budget proposal, Tanden is dispatching cabinet members to key states, monitoring lawmakers’ town halls and arranging hundreds of local TV interviews with administration officials.

Not surprisingly, the party whose organizing method is “the moral equivalent of war” views American politics as the continuation of warfare by other means, to flip von Clausewitz’s axiom on its head. And as the last week has illustrated, they’re far more focused on fighting against the American people, rather than Middle Eastern terrorists.

* Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time — a long time: Neera Tanden lands in the White House, after all. “The White House confirmed on Friday that Biden had appointed Tanden to be a senior adviser. She will start on Monday. The move came two months after the veteran Democratic policy adviser, known for her combative Twitter feed and in-your-face politics, withdrew her bid to become Biden’s budget director — Biden’s first, and, to this point, only failed nominee and one of his few political setbacks thus far.”

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