Democrats are livid over the Biden administration's tepid response to several recent US Supreme Court decisions which struck devastating blows to the party's core tenets; abortion and gun control.
For example, former "Will & Grace" star Debra Messing was among dozens of celebrity Democratic supporters participating in a call with White House aides last Monday to brainstorm a response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
According to Messing (via CNN), "Messing said she'd gotten Joe Biden elected and wanted to know why she was being asked to do anything at all, yelling that there didn't even seem a point to voting. Others wondered why the call was happening."
After the call, the White House sent a follow-up email with a list of basic talking points and suggested clips of Biden speeches to share on TikTok.
The call, three days after the decision eliminating federal abortion rights, encapsulates the overwhelming sense of frustration among Democrats with Biden. It offers a new window into what many in the President's party describe as a mismanagement permeating the White House. -CNN
According to top Democrats - two dozen of which spoke with CNN (including White House staffers), Biden either isn't acting with - or isn't capable of - the urgency required in the moment, raising questions over 'basic management' abilities.
"Rudderless, aimless and hopeless," said one member of Congress in describing the White House.
As an example of the sheer incompetence, top Biden aides are still wrangling over a response to Roe more than a week after the ruling, despite the draft decision leaking six weeks beforehand.
White House counsel Dana Remus had assured senior aides the Supreme Court wouldn't rule on abortion that day. A White House press aide assigned to the issue was walking to get coffee when the alert hit. Several Democratic leaders privately mocked how the President stood in the foyer of the White House, squinting through his remarks from a teleprompter as demonstrators poured into the streets, making only vague promises of action because he and aides hadn't decided on more. -CNN
Meanwhile, frustrated Democratic politicians say they've reached out to work with Biden on a variety of issues - between specific bills, brainstorming, or outreach - and often never hear back. Potential appointees are left sitting for months for word on whether they'll get jobs, or when the Biden admin will be done vetting them. What's more, the Biden admin rarely sends invitations to events, and 'thank-you calls barely happen.'
Others within the administration are wondering why Biden didn't fire anyone from the West Wing or the FDA over the baby food formula debacle.
Inside the White House, aides are reportedly exhausted from 'feeling forever on red alert,' and dealing with a flood of never-ending crises that seem to just get worse.
Several officials say Biden's tendency to berate advisers when he's displeased with how a situation is being handled or when events go off poorly has trickled down the ranks in the West Wing, leaving several mid-level aides feeling blamed for failings despite lacking any real ability to influence the building's decision-making. That's contributed to some of the recent staff departures, according to people familiar. -CNN
As a result of the chaos and impotence, Democrats worry that midterm elections will be a bloodbath - as the sheer level of ineptitude are "feeding a sense that the President couldn't truly handle the extra complications of a run for reelection in 2024 -- and along the way, reinforcing narratives that he's an old man not fit for the moment."
"There's no fight," another Democrat told CNN. "People understand that a lot of this is out of his hands -- but what you want to see is the President out there swinging."
CNN notes that what little the Biden admin has done (release oil from the SPR, invoking the Defense Production Act to address baby formula shortages, and suggesting a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax) hasn't made a dent; "The baby formula shortage persists, inflation remains high and gas prices, though slightly down from their high, are still hovering close to $5 a gallon."
"It had the appearance of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks," one official said off the record.
Other sources say that the White House is 'bottlenecked' by indecision - with veteran advisers urging Biden to look at the bigger picture vs. focusing on fast responses, while few are trying - and even fewer succeeding - in getting Biden past his 'infamous inability to settle on decisions' on everything from Chinese imports to canceling student loan debt.
Biden has been mulling what to do on student loans for more than a year. White House staff drafted a memo on the topic weeks ago, and a final decision is now being targeted ahead of when the current repayment pause expires on August 31 -- further aggravating progressives who say Biden's indecision is hurting people with debt who are trying to make plans, and losing much of the political benefit he could get from it. -CNN
Biden's defenders argue that he's a scapegoat.
"The country didn't elect Joe Biden because they wanted a Democratic Donald Trump to go out there every day and divide the country more," said former Congressman Cedric Richmond, who served in the West Wing during Biden's first year, adding that Democrats attacking Biden are "scapegoating the President, or distracted and not focusing on what they should be focused on. He saved democracy once by beating a tyrant. He's doing it again, but he doesn't do it by beating his chest."