The Art of Making a Deal
In the classic German legend, Faust, a scholar dissatisfied with his life, becomes depressed and asks the Devil for further knowledge. He asks for magic powers that will indulge him all the pleasure and knowledge of the world.
In response, the Devil’s representative, Mephistopheles, appears. He makes a bargain with Faust: Mephistopheles will serve Faust with his magic powers for a set number of years, but at the end of the term, the Devil will claim Faust’s soul, and Faust will be eternally enslaved.
Coming off a big win in Utah, Vermont’s socialist senator, Bernie Sanders, posed an existential threat to the Democratic establishment. Sanders headed to S.C. with a leading count of 45 delegates, reports Daniel Henninger in the WSJ.
Nearly four years later, the party establishment that sent Mr. Biden toward the presidency is talking about sending him packing. A CNN poll says Nikki Haley would beat Mr. Biden today by 6 points, and the incumbent president is tied statistically with all the other non-Trump GOP candidates.
Let’s understand what happened back in South Carolina. One of literature’s great allegories is the story of Dr. Faustus, who in return for receiving great powers from the devil, agreed to let Mephistopheles come for his soul sometime in the future. By throwing the party behind Mr. Biden, Rep. James Clyburn and the Democrats made a conscious Faustian bargain.
… by committing to Mr. Biden, the Democrats got possession of the powers of the presidency for four years. They also got a passive president who held open the door for the largest outpouring of spending and regulation in generations.
Payment Is Due
Now that fellow on the other side of Faustian bargains, warns Mr. Henninger, “has shown up to tell the Democrats their payment is due.”
After giving them four years of extraordinary power, he’s taking back Joe Biden. What lies ahead for the Biden-less party could be a hard slog.
Democrats are frustrated that they aren’t getting credit for the economy’s positive indicators—strong job growth, low unemployment and until recently a strong stock market.
More intriguingly, the U.S. public seems unimpressed with, almost ungrateful for, the trillions the Democrats spent on Covid-era transfer payments and subsidies.
Bipartisan Faustian Bargains
Not so fast letting off Republicans, though. Mr. Henninger assures readers that he will, it is hoped, address the issue another day.
Kamala Harris, as a black woman and part of the identity political bargain, is producing a “no comment” genre from the likes of a real pro. Nancy Pelosi, who answered if VP Harris was the best choice, “He thinks so, and that’s what matters.”
Then there is the UAW strike, continues Mr. Henninger. Sen. Bernie Sanders found himself on stage with an “important progressive admirer, UAW President Shawn Fain.”
The Biden star is fading amid party angst, economic anxiety, the tom-toms of impeachment and a special counsel for Hunter. Once the post-Biden bidding begins, don’t expect Sens. Sanders and Warren to sign on for another fake moderate. This time, the Democrats’ bargain will be made with them.
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