This is genuinely puzzling to me.
This is from Biden’s statement about the Supreme Court’s decision on Texas Law SB8:
One reason I became the first president in history to create a Gender Policy Council was to be prepared to react to such assaults on women’s rights. Hence, I am directing that Council and the Office of the White House Counsel to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision, looking specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.
Yesterday the Justice Department filed suit challenging the Texas law.
In his statement Biden skirts by the obvious point: if the public continues to elect Republicans, abortion will soon be illegal even in cases of rape or incest in much of the country. It doesn’t matter how many lawsuits Democrats file. Furthermore, although promising bold legal action to protect abortion rights may calm panicked activists and base voters, it is unlikely to work and threatens to make the Democrats look incompetent if it fails. Why not keep the focus on elections?
The same question arises with vaccination policy. Biden tiptoed pretty gently around the role of Republicans and Fox News in fomenting vaccine hesitancy. It was there, but oblique – I don’t think he used the word “Republican” once. Republicans, for their part, have been hammering away at his vaccine mandate proposal in uncompromising terms: see here, here, here, here.
So, what gives? Perhaps Biden is reluctant to offend Congressional Republicans while the legislative sausage making machine is working on his infrastructure and budget packages. Maybe he believes that keeping up a pretense of bipartisanship is important to voters. Or maybe Republicans are making an error by politicizing abortion and vaccine mandates. (It is certainly possible that they will miss Roe when it’s gone, since it protected them from having to actually implement the unpopular ideas supported by many of their base voters.) Perhaps Biden is playing it smart by refusing to politicize issues that he is on the right side of. But winning public opinion polls is not the same as winning elections. At some point people need to tie these issues to parties, no? Democratic voters need a reason to come to the polls next year. Republicans are making sure their voters get the message.