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Split-screen makes Biden look good and the House GOP look worse

The fact that Joe Biden was celebrating in Kentucky while Kevin McCarthy was floundering on Capitol Hill created a striking political split-screen.


The front page of The Louisville Courier-Journal today features an image of President Joe Biden standing alongside a bipartisan group that included a Democratic governor, a Republican governor, a Democratic senator, and two Republican senators. The headline read, “Biden, McConnell tout ‘a legislative miracle.’”

The accompanying article was every bit as positive:

President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, self-proclaimed friends despite their allegiance to different parties, met up in the senator’s home state Wednesday to celebrate a bipartisan accomplishment many Kentuckians suspected was a pipe dream. A project politicians tried and failed to make happen for nearly 20 years — the construction of a companion to the Brent Spence Bridge — finally got greenlit thanks to 2021’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, which both men used their considerable political capital to support.

As Rachel explained on the show this week, this isn’t just another bridge. The Brent Spence Bridge, connecting Kentucky and Ohio, is so economically significant that, as The Cincinnati Enquirer explained a few years ago, “Each year, $417 billion worth of freight crosses the bridge — nearly 3% of GDP.”

In recent years, however, the bridge has fallen into disrepair as it’s taken on far more traffic than it was designed to withstand. The result was a project that took on national significance.

During his presidency, Barack Obama appeared at the bridge as part of his pitch for ambitious infrastructure investments, but congressional Republicans refused to tackle the issue. Donald Trump also vowed to fix the Brent Spence Bridge, but he abandoned his own infrastructure initiative during an unfortunate tantrum.

Now, however, thanks to a bipartisan infrastructure package that overcame GOP opposition to reach Biden’s desk, officials are actually cutting the checks.

And so, the Democratic president stood alongside two Democrats — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown — and three Republicans — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, former Sen. Rob Portman, and McConnell — and celebrated the substantive breakthrough.

The White House probably didn’t plan it this way, but the fact that Biden was celebrating in Kentucky while Kevin McCarthy was floundering on Capitol Hill created a striking split-screen. A Reuters report highlighted the juxtaposition:

U.S. President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell made a rare joint appearance on Wednesday at a bridge in Kentucky in a display of bipartisanship that offers a guide to how the White House hopes to govern in months to come. As hardline Republicans create turmoil in the House of Representatives by blocking the rest of the party’s chosen leader, Kevin McCarthy, Biden and McConnell’s visit painted a sharp contrast — and that’s just what Biden aides and allies are hoping for.

The message to the American electorate couldn’t have been much clearer: While House Republicans wallow in their own chaos, Biden is delivering real results. The longer McCarthy and his members struggle to complete the most basic of tasks, the more the president will eagerly take advantage.