Joe Biden and his staff may well be in a more complicated state than that. But for all the angst in Washington, few in the White House seem rattled by a raft of dramatic political developments.
While the president and his aides feuded on Twitter all day, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives announced that the president had signed the latest debt-ceiling hike and that he would allow a government shutdown only for a short time and if he was forced to.
Biden and his staff may well be in a more complicated state than that – he is a former senator and as vice-president (along with his unifying colleagues in an attempt to unite a divided Democratic Party) they are the face of what the administration describes as the movement of a new Democratic party.
But as Joe Biden tries to consolidate his role in the new party, a high-powered Democratic congressman is taking a middle course on what some say is an essential test of Biden’s role in his party’s rebirth.
Right now the Democrats’ position on healthcare is mixed. President Obama has not come out in favour of the single-payer system that he once seemed to embrace. When Biden was vice-president he tried and failed to secure health care reform with Speaker John Boehner. For now it appears a move towards the $350 billion plan that former health secretary Kathleen Sebelius is pushing is the one that the president is willing to support.
But that plan has been criticised by some as too timid and the left wing of the party seem to have given up on bipartisanship. Leftwing activists are demanding that Biden shift the plan to a single-payer system. The New York Times reports that people involved in the effort to bring him into the fold say they are not going to give up.
Instead they want to see Biden take the initiative and put together a plan that is truly progressive. They are advising him to support single-payer, or Medicare-for-all, Medicare for all.
But Democratic congressman Jim Himes tells Politico: “Every single House Democrat is going to be opposed to a bill that has the kind of wiggle room that that does… We’ve got to move to a real strategy and not a symbolic one. We’ve got to get something done.”
So Himes’ view is that the administration should stop being so shy and tone down the progressives. In other words, he may be putting his own job on the line by trying to advance an agenda that will meet with resistance.
Joe Biden’s strategy has been that after his loss in 2016 he wanted to help Democrats write new messages and find an organisation to launch them. He has been on a centrist offensive trying to build bridges and undermine what he has described as a “neo-liberal” economic agenda.
But Biden has been the centre of attention in Washington for months. But that attention has fallen on the growing fragmenting of the Democratic party as a result of a battle for control of the Democratic National Committee and battles over the DNC’s role in DNC reform.
Recently Biden’s strategy has diverged from that of the White House in that he has backed legislation over tax reform that President Trump had said that he would have vetoed. And Joe Biden has been trying to bridge a divide between groups on the left and in the party. He’s even called on Bernie Sanders to embrace single-payer healthcare, a polarizing issue, and one that Joe Biden has not seemed to embrace when he was vice-president.