On Tuesday night, former Vice President Joe Biden said President Donald Trump is trying hard to reverse Barack Obama’s legacy, but he won’t be able to do so.
“All he seems to be doing is undo everything that President Obama has done,” Biden told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, speaking of Trump. “But he’s not able to do that, by the way.”
Biden listed different areas where Trump has fallen short. “He’s damaged health care, but it’s not gone. He has gone after the Paris Accords, but you see mayors and governors and local leaders getting together and making sure it doesn’t have the effect that he intended it to be,” the former vice president explained.
“You find ourselves in a situation where the education system is getting better and better even though now there’s a full-blown attack by the secretary of Education on the things we put in place,” Biden added.
“He can’t undo it all. He’s hurting it. He’s slowing the process,” the former vice president concluded. “But most of all, we’re missing an enormous opportunity — an enormous opportunity to change the life for middle class people.”
Biden spoke with Cuomo about his potential presidential ambitions for 2020, and Cuomo suggested that Biden’s new book, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose, revealed that the former vice president needs to run in two years. Biden would not rule out a candidacy.
The former vice president attempted to take the high road in his attacks on Trump.
“Look, when the president first got elected, I got heavily criticized for saying I hope he succeeds because America succeeds when the president succeeds,” Biden explained. He highlighted two trends that concerned him: a “naked nationalism” that leads America to “abdicate our responsibility around the world,” and a “phony populism” that says “the only reason you have a problem is because of the other” — immigrants or minorities.
“So this president has spent his entire time since he’s gotten in office trying to divide the country instead of unite the country,” Biden charged. “As I said, I am more optimistic about the chances for America in the 21st century than I have been in my whole career.” One area he seemed less than optimistic about is President Donald Trump.
For all his talk about uniting the country, Biden’s remarks about Trump’s policies were just as divisive as Trump’s policies. Biden equated the Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”) with “health care,” suggesting Trump’s assaults on Obama’s policy constituted an assault on America’s health. He did the same thing with education — attacking Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for putting Obama policies under “a full-blown attack.”
In reality, Americans have long been divided on Obamacare, and Trump successfully repealed the hated individual mandate, a central plank of the policy. As for education, DeVos has chipped away at the infamous “Dear Colleague” letter that created campus sex tribunals across America that removed due process rights from students accused of sexual assault.
As for climate change, it is welcome that Trump has pulled back from the disastrous commitments of the Obama years, and that liberal states and cities have forged their own path on the issue. With any luck, the “laboratories of democracy” can try different strategies for increasing energy efficiency and protecting the environment, rather than committing the entire country to extravagant goals that cost billions if not trillions of dollars.
Biden’s remarks raised yet another specter, however, and this one most terrifying. Over the past year, entrenched bureaucrats have fought against Trump’s agenda from within. Most egregious among these efforts have been leaks to undermine the White House and the administration.
Last March, Evelyn Farkas, Obama’s former assistant deputy secretary of defense, let slip a potential reason for this “deep state” activity. She expressed concerns that information about Trump’s campaign was not being released fast enough, and that Trump officials would be able to stem the leaks eventually.
“So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy that the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their, the Trump staff’s dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more,” Farkas told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski.
These remarks hinted at the looming FISA abuse scandal, and suggested that the Obama administration had worked within the government against Donald Trump during the 2016 election.
As more revelations about the FISA scandal come to light, Biden’s words about Trump not being able to reverse Obama’s policies take on a sick hidden meaning. Perhaps Biden is so confident, not because of liberal activism on the state level, but because of the inner workings of the administrative state. If so, Trump’s efforts to cut regulations and decrease the size and scope of the federal bureaucracy cannot come fast enough.
Biden says Trump can’t reverse Obama’s presidency. Trump should take this as a challenge — to push back the bureaucracy much farther than Obama expanded it, and to perhaps undo some of the disastrous expansion from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.