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Published on March 12, 2021 11:20 PM

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Faced with Biden's popular Covid law, Republicans stick to the culture war
Washington (CNN)Despite a busy start to Joe Biden's administration, Republicans are struggling to find effective lines of attack against the new Democratic president.

No Republicans on Capitol Hill supported the Biden-backed Covid stimulus package, but the GOP also did relatively little to marshal public opposition to the bill beyond calling it a "liberal wish list." That's not surprising given how popular the bill is, with 61% of adults saying they back it in the latest CNN poll. Republican senators launched perfunctory critiques against many of Biden's appointees and first executive orders, while others have begun to focus on the influx of migrants at the border. But so far the GOP has made no sustained argument against the administration.

Instead of taking on Biden directly, Republicans and their conservative-media allies have retreated to the latest culture-war skirmishes, focusing as much on lambasting a "cancel culture" as they are on attacking actual administration policies. Last week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, released a video of himself reading the children's book "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss after the late author's publishing company announced it would no longer print six other books the company says contain racist and offensive images. McCarthy's criticism of the House Covid relief bill, meanwhile, centered on the bill having too little money allocated for reopening schools. His and other House Republicans' message tapped into a go-to GOP message against tight Covid restrictions but did not take on the entirety of the proposal. And at last month's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, speakers got their loudest rounds of applause by going after "Big Tech" firms for supposedly censoring conservatives or toymaker Hasbro for renaming its iconic Mr. Potato Head to a more gender-neutral "Potato Head." "Cancel culture is what unites and excites the right at this point," said Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist. "And Biden has been fairly invisible to date." To the extent that Republicans focus on Biden at all, it's to characterize the 78-year-old President -- who, according to the latest CNN poll, has a 51% approval rating -- as being dominated by his party's progressive elements.