Biden-McConnell: Personally mismatched, professionally bound

Washington: When Joe Biden stepped to the lectern in the shadow of the Brent Spence Bridge in northern Kentucky this month, he couldn’t stop showering praise on the state’s senior Republican senator, who had fought to repair the ramshackle span for decades.

It was quite a contrast to the clipped introduction delivered just a few minutes earlier by that senator, Mitch McConnell, who referenced Biden only in noting that the president had signed the bill to finally fix the aging bridge.

By temperament and manner, the two men — whose relationship in Washington has been scrutinized, analyzed and satirized for years — are decidedly mismatched. Biden is tactile, gregarious and gaffe prone; McConnell is tactical, often grim-faced and rarely utters an unscripted word.

But with the new days of divided government underway, the Biden-McConnell relationship will become more important.

McConnell’s experience in cutting deals and the political capital he retains among Republican members could leave him much freer to negotiate with the White House on thorny matters such as government spending and the debt ceiling than new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., whose ranks have already issued hardline demands on the debt that the White House says are nonstarters.

Both Biden and McConnell see political imperatives in strategically cooperating. McConnell, who fell short of regaining the Senate majority last November, will have a far more advantageous political map in the 2024 election cycle and wants to demonstrate that Republicans can govern responsibly.

Meanwhile, central to Biden’s case for reelection is promoting his policy accomplishments and selling a record of competent governing — punctured somewhat by recent discoveries of classified documents at his former office and Delaware home.

Image courtesy of (Image: WUKY)

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