JOE Biden was inaugurated on January 20, 202I promising a normal presidency. He would unify feuding Americans after the divisive Donald Trump years.
How different the reality has been. Democrats who exulted in the defeat of Trump stand today amidst the wreckage of Biden’s unenacted legislative programme and the humiliating abandonment of Afghanistan. Inflation is at a 40-year high and the world’s richest country is beset by food shortages.
How did that happen? The answer is glaring; lacking reliable majorities in Congress, the would-be Franklin Delano Roosevelt – who preached a similarly transformational Democratic presidency in the 1930s – overreached with a weak hand.
Some of the loyalest and most influential Democratic voices in the powerful Washington media are complaining about a failed presidency that has three years to go. Biden’s approval rate is 33 per cent and a majority think the country is on the wrong track.
Just under 50 per cent of Americans think Biden – kindly Uncle Joe when he entered the White House – is himself divisive because he has governed much further to the left than expected, but without satisfying the Left.
President Jekyll morphed into President Hyde. Young progressives vying with the Biden generation for power in the Democratic Party have vowed to fight to stop him running for re-election.
They will have the time mull their options if the polls are correct and Republicans recapture the Congress in November, effectively neutering Biden. The intra-party fight is on to decide whether Democrats contest the 2024 presidential campaign from the progressive Left, that a majority of Americans don’t want, or tack back to the centre.
Electing Biden, now 79 and America’s oldest-ever president, was a risk. Democrats who reviled Trump gambled that Biden’s team of Washington veterans would carry him. Neither he nor they have delivered, proving in the process that figurehead presidencies don’t work.
The more his agenda has stalled, the more Biden has exhibited an old man’s querulousness. In a speech last week demanding the Senate abolish the filibuster which requires 60 votes to pass laws, he asked: ‘Do you want to want to be on the side of Dr King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?’
Wallace, Connor and Davis were notorious racists in the Democrats’ book. Jefferson was president of the Confederate South during the civil war. Even Democrats admitted Biden crossed a line by imputing racism to senators.
The president might as well have saved his breath. The same day, Democrat senator Kyrsten Sinema said she would not vote to kill the filibuster and that ended the matter.
Sinema and Joe Manchin, another Democrat, have been Biden’s nemesis in refusing to pass multi-trillion-dollar spending bills, the latest being Build Back Better, or BBB, which would have vastly expanded social entitlements and spending on climate projects. Democrats needed to end the filibuster to have any chance of unlocking the money.
The two rebels baulked at more government spending, which they said would add fuel to inflation running at seven per cent, a level not seen since the 1980s and for which Biden policies have been blamed.
But it wasn’t just the money. The filibuster was designed to ensure bipartisan support for legislation to prevent tyranny of the majority, a principle Sinema and Manchin defended and which Democrats will be grateful for the next time Republicans hold power. The fact that Democrats wanted to kill it over a single issue was evidence of the fevered state of US politics.
The turning point for Biden’s presidency was his decision to desert Afghanistan overnight last August, leaving the Taliban to take the government. He boasted it was a personal success. Horrified Americans meanwhile watched chaos in Kabul on television. A Taliban bomb at the airport killed 13 US soldiers. Desperate Afghans were seen clinging to the hulls of US transport aircraft as they took off and falling to their deaths.
It quickly came out that the Pentagon told Biden not to do it. The event instantly destroyed his foreign policy credibility and badly damaged US standing vis-a-vis adversarial Russia, China and Iran.
It’s been downhill for his approval ratings since. Crime has continued to spike with the rise of pro-criminal prosecutors. Parents who rebelled against the anti-white indoctrination of their children at school – costing the Democrats the governorship of Virginia in the process – have been accused of domestic terrorism. Fights over anti-Covid measures such as masking and vaccine have divided along political lines.
Biden is treated with contempt by young progressives, who want to replace the existing Democratic leadership – who are mainly the president’s age. Corbin Trent, the mastermind behind the rise of young star Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, spoke for the progressive young when he said of Biden: ‘He’s deeply unpopular. He’s as old as sh*t. And I think he’ll probably get demolished in the mid-terms.’