February 8, 2024

Fetterman: Neither Friend Nor Foe

The Democrat senator from Pennsylvania is proving to be less of a hard-left radical than many had assumed.

John Fetterman has been quite the character. From a cognitively debilitating stroke during his Senate campaign to a months-long stint in Walter Reed National Medical Center for clinic depression to a surprising emergence as a Democrat maverick, the hoodie-wearing Fetterman is not your typical lawmaker.

Early on, conservative media pundits hammered Democrats for staying with Fetterman after his stroke had clearly harmed him cognitively. He struggled to understand what people said to him in interviews, resorted to reading questions off a teleprompter, and couldn’t string coherent sentences together. Indeed, many wondered if he was fit for the job.

Well, as they say, time heals all wounds. And in Fetterman’s case, that adage is true. So much so, in fact, that any lingering questions as to whether he’s physically and mentally fit for office have effectively dried up.

Indeed, Fetterman sounds downright normal when compared to many of his Democrat colleagues. And for as much as we criticize the political opposition, we genuinely celebrate the fact that Fetterman’s health has improved so remarkably. As much as politics can be a bitter fight between rival views and ideologies, it is important to see our political opponents as fellow human beings who, on occasion, deserve our compassion.

That said, one wonders if Fetterman’s improved condition has many of his fellow Democrats wondering whether he will start causing problems for their increasingly hard-left agenda.

Two glaring examples may have some of them ruing his return to good health: Fetterman’s staunch support for Israel, and his call for better border security and stricter enforcement of immigration laws.

“I’m not a progressive,” Fetterman said in response to criticism over his positions on Israel and the border. “I just think I’m a Democrat that is very committed to choice and other things. But with Israel, I’m going to be on the right side of that. And immigration is something near and dear to me, and I think we do have to effectively address it as well.”

Unlike most Democrats, Fetterman acknowledges the difference between legal and illegal immigration. “It’s a reasonable conversation — until somebody can say there’s an explanation on what we can do when 270,000 people are being encountered on the border, not including the ones, of course, that we don’t know about,” he noted. “To put that in reference, that is essentially the size of Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in Pennsylvania.”

Wow. Here, Fetterman sounds like a Republican — or a Democrat from 10 years ago. In other words, Fetterman actually recognizes the importance of maintaining border security to ensure the security of American citizens.

While Republicans can agree with Fetterman on support for Israel and border security, there are few other areas of agreement. Fetterman is essentially another Joe Manchin. The longtime West Virginia Democrat senator may break with his party on specific issues such as energy policy, but he ends up voting with the party more than 90% of the time.

The value of Fetterman is that he serves as a policy marker of sorts by showing how far left the Democrat Party has moved in just the last decade alone — and how far the Overton window has shifted.

Fetterman’s value to Republicans is that he is willing to break with his party on certain issues and possibly work with Republicans. However, as noted above, he’s no conservative. Rather, he’s a Democrat who still holds to some of the party’s policy positions of yesteryear that have now become problematic.

On specific policy issues, Republicans might be able to work with Fetterman, but he’ll likely prove to be an adversary on a majority of others. Time will tell, but with seemingly few reasonable-minded Democrats left in the party, Fetterman might be one of the few with whom Republicans can work.

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