President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE’s job performance is making him the most serious political threat to Democrats’ election chances in 2022. It’s almost as if Biden is a GOP secret weapon, ensuring that Republicans retake control of the House and Senate.
It’s not just Biden’s mishandling of multiple crises; it’s the way he’s mishandling them. Flip-flops, contradictions, denials, blame shifting, political tone-deafness and refusal to concede facts — not to mention a kind of spacy-ness in his public responses. For example:
The Afghanistan withdrawal disaster: Biden sold himself as one of the country’s top foreign policy experts, one who would restore America’s standing in the world and among our allies. How’s that going, Joe?
Even many Democrats, both elected and former political appointees and policy experts, are criticizing the president.
NATO allies are appalled at the chaotic exit from Afghanistan, which threatens their own credibility and the safety of their citizens. And allies increasingly wonder whether they can depend on the U.S. if a military threat arises.
For example, China is hinting that Afghanistan proves the U.S. would not stand up for Taiwan should the Chinese invade. And after the Afghanistan debacle, who’s to say they would?
And there are the recurring headlines and pictures of Islamic jihadists who are cheering the Taliban’s defeat of the world’s greatest military power.
You know it’s bad when even the mainstream media have begun highlighting Biden and his administration’s misstatements, contradictions, errors and flip-flops.
The past few weeks have understandably lowered the public’s already timid confidence in Biden’s ability and fitness to do the job of president. And that skepticism is likely to affect Democratic campaigns.
COVID-19 surges: As a presidential candidate, Biden claimed thousands of Americans were dying because President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE mishandled the pandemic. Biden assured us he had a plan to turn it around.
While Trump surely made mistakes, so did other world leaders — which is exactly what you would expect when a new, not-well-understood virus arises. But Trump also got some things right, including the government’s backing for pharmaceutical manufacturers’ efforts to create a COVID-19 vaccine in record time.
Biden inherited that success and has largely tried to take credit for it. The declining number of COVID-19 cases over the spring and early summer is one of the reasons for the public’s generally favorable opinion of the Biden presidency.
But COVID cases and deaths are rising again, and many hospitals are filling up or are already full. If Biden has a plan to slow or stop the spread – as he claimed as a candidate – where is it? All he’s been able to do so far is double down on what has been done: encourage vaccinations and urge mask wearing and social distancing.
Hopefully the delta variant peaks soon and we begin to see a decline in new cases and deaths — and the lambda or some other variant doesn’t take its place. But if the virus continues its spread, it will make Biden look as feckless as he appears on TV.
Inflation fears: A recent The Hill-HarrisX poll revealed that inflation is the top economic concern on voters’ minds: 31 percent of registered voters. The national debt came in second at 22 percent. Thus, over half of voters see inflation and the national debt as the biggest economic challenges.
Only 9 percent said they weren’t concerned about the economy.
Inflation is real. It may be temporary – as Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell keeps telling us – but consumers are seeing it daily.
Biden’s big-spending push means that Democrats will own any negative economic blowback if inflation explodes. Even if voters see some benefits from the government spending spree and inflation pressures ease, those benefits likely won’t be felt much before the 2022 elections.
Illegal immigration chaos: Perhaps the only good news out of Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal disaster is that those heart-rending TV images have replaced the images of near-record numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border.
The Pew Research Center reports, “The U.S. Border Patrol reported nearly 200,000 encounters with migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border in July, the highest monthly total in more than two decades.”
Again, the facts on the ground have completely contradicted the Biden administration’s continued spin – it’s a “challenge” not a “crisis,” they insist – and everyone knows it.
This is just a short list. Democrats are on the wrong side of a number of other very important issues (e.g., defund the police) that will come back to bite them in the 2022 elections.
Numerous reports claim that Biden believes he will survive his Afghanistan debacle because voters care more about the economy than Afghanistan.
But voters do care about the lives and safety of the U.S. military, U.S. credibility in the world and the rising threat of terrorism. And all of those issues are intertwined with his mishandling of Afghanistan.
Even if the Afghanistan withdrawal fades in the media, there’s still COVID-19, the southern border crisis and rising inflation — none of which are moving in Biden’s favor.
Fortunately for Biden, he doesn’t have to face the voters again until 2024. Unfortunately for Biden, his actions likely mean he will have to face a Republican Congress in January 2023.
Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews.