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Dick Morris: Biden will be 'hostage of the left'

The president-elect "has to move to the left and parrot the [Bernie] Sanders agenda, and that's the opposite of triangulation," said former Bill Clinton advisor Dick Morris.

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Joe Biden
Joe Biden
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Updated: January 10, 2021 - 7:07am

President-elect Joe Biden's effort to pivot toward the political center will fail because he'll be a "hostage of the left," according to former White House adviser Dick Morris, who successfully engineered Bill Clinton's "triangulation" strategy to work with both left and right.

During Clinton's first two years in office, he was tugged sharply left by congressional Democrats. After the 1994 "Republican Revolution" swept the GOP to power in both houses of Congress, Morris famously helped Clinton "triangulate" with a policy agenda Morris says "not only blended the best of each party's views but also transcended them to constitute a third force in the debate." 

Morris told Just the News he thinks the political climate has changed so much in the past nearly 30 years that he's doubtful Biden would have the political capital or strength to push back successfully on the Democrats' left wing, which pushed the party to adopt its most progressive platform in its history last year.

Morris predicts Biden will face a playing field similar to that which awaited Clinton when he was first elected.

"When I came in," Morris recounted, "[Clinton] said, 'I've gotten so liberal I didn't even recognize myself.' And he said, 'I've got to get back to the center.' I had predicted to him that you think that the Democrats in Congress will protect you. Instead, they'll become your jailer, and you'll become their hostage, because you'll be chasing every last vote in the lunge to the left, because you won't get any Republican support for anything."

Morris said Biden's pandering to the left flank of his party was the price the incoming president had to pay to get his party's nomination.

"He has to move to the left and parrot the [Bernie] Sanders agenda, and that's the opposite of triangulation," Morris said. "I think that were he to try to triangulate, Antifa and BLM would jerk his leash and drag him back to the left." 

Morris said part of why Clinton tried at first to work only with the Democrats was because of the failure of Jimmy Carter, a one-term president who Morris said won office by positioning himself as a moderate during the primaries. Morris said by working with Republicans, Carter angered the Democratic leadership during the Georgian's term, including former House Speaker Tip O'Neill.

Clinton, according to Morris, "was told by Congress, 'Do not borrow votes from the Republicans ... we will provide you with the majority in both houses, and we do not want you to stray, no bipartisanship.' 

"And Clinton agreed to that because Carter had been fried by the Democratic leadership," Morris continued, but in the end Clinton "found himself isolated, with just the Democrats, and while they were a majority, he didn't have all of them. And there would always be a radical left wing that was dragging him to the left." 

Now an outspoken Republican, Morris said he actually hopes that Republicans will not cooperate or triangulate with Biden and hand him policy victories. He advises them instead to hold their powder for the 2022 elections.

"I really do not want to be giving the Republicans advice on how to make Biden look good by passing good things," Morris said. "I think that the Republicans should have nothing to do with the Biden administration. They should oppose it at every turn and should fight for it to fail and retake Congress in '22."

Clinton supported many of the measures that the Republicans pushed in the 1990s, like a balanced budget, an anti-crime bill and welfare reform, Morris recalled, "and I felt that it was perfectly fine for us to co-op parts of their agenda and pass them."

When asked whether Republican intransigence could backfire and fail — like Mitch McConnell's failed pledge to make former President Barack Obama a one-term president — Morris said again he thinks the circumstances are different under Biden.

"Obama was a dexterous politician who could capitalize on the dialogue," Morris said. "But Biden is a stuffed animal. He can't do that. He has no maneuverability, no dexterity."

As a result, Morris said, if the Republicans do not cooperate with Biden, the new White House occupant will have to get all of his votes from the Democrats, "and having to do that, he's going to have to give away so much to the liberals, that he will become totally unattractive to the rest of the electorate. And that's the process the Republicans should follow."

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