Chuck Schumer may be the new majority leader of the Senate, but when it really comes down to cutting deals on the big things it is probably going to be Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell that do the tango.
It’s not that Schumer’s a wallflower or irrelevent. He’ll be running 90%+ of the show. But Schumer is new in the role and has two handicaps: ambition and resentment at McConnell and the Republicans. McConnell doesn’t have either of these. He’s 78 and was just elected to another, and probably final, six year term. A mastermind of Senate rules and politics, he has nothing to prove and can operate with dispassionate effectiveness.
Biden is operating from the same place as McConnell. They are the same age and Biden has also reached the top of his ambition. He spent enough time in the Senate – as a senator and as Obama’s emissary there – to know what’s what. If something really difficult comes up, the two of them are going to be the dealmakers.
McConnell’s one distraction is Donald Trump. Trump scared the crap out of him with his insurrection antics. At a minimum, McConnell would like to keep Trump from performing a second act. What he really wants is to remove Trumpism from the Republican party and get it back to where it was before the tea party took it over.
Who knows, maybe Biden will help him.