A mixed bag of successes (infrastructure, vaccine delivery, pandemic aid, youth poverty) and bad (Afghanistan, voting rights, pandemic, perception of the economy, among others).
Call it a “meh” first year in a very challenging period of our history.
Miscalculations, there've been a few. Probably the biggest was that his well-earned reputation as a successful, competent and likeable senator (in another political era) did not result in easy (or many) legislative successes. His relationships from the days he was in the Senate are primarily gone or overtaken by sheer political greed or newcomers who think about their Twitter feed first, fund-raising second and governing maybe third, at best.
Biden, despite his years as vice president to President Obama which updated his familiarity with the Senate, never before faced such hostility from across the aisle or such push back on his proposals. Including from an invigorated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who has said his main goal is to block Biden’s agenda. Just as was his main goal during the Obama presidency.
Then there are senators Synema and Manchin, from his own party, who are blocking much success at all in a 50-50 Senate. The overall partisanship – both in Congress and among the populace – is at a fever pitch not seen since the Civil War.
The forces against him are strong and the mistakes of his Administration are many, including in the communications department.
Still, as his minions are saying in defense, “he was elected to four years, not one.” Problem is, unless he or his people find a winning legislative strategy in a year when Republicans are planning on taking over the Congress in the mid-term election which means little or no cooperation, the next three years aren’t likely to be much better.
Which leads us to some recent polling data.
Biden is under water, as they say, in his approval from the country. The important right track/wrong track figure: 68 percent of voters say the country is on the wrong track. Just 40 percent approve of the job Biden is doing. Republicans have become favored over Democrats to handle the economy, jobs, immigration, national security and gun policy.
Democrats barely are beating the GOP on several issues they owned just one year ago: education, the pandemic and voting rights.
Ominous too is that the public that elected him for his competence and trustworthiness now has significant doubts about his character. According to the latest POLITCO-Morning Consult poll, majorities of voters said they disagreed with the following statements:
- Biden is energetic (58 percent)
- Biden is a strong leader (57 percent)
- Biden is a clear communicator (56 percent)
- Biden keeps his promises (53 percent)
- Biden is capable of leading the country (51 percent)
Asked to give Biden a grade one year into his term:
- 37 percent gave him an F
- 11 percent gave him an A
- And 20 percent gave him a B
Many folks voted for Biden because he is a nice guy, well credentialed AND he isn’t Donald Trump. Many of us viewed him as a “transitional” president to a quieter, more logical time than the Trump years. If Biden doesn’t seek a second term, which is likely, it’s not clear who is waiting in the wings on the Democratic side, except for Vice President Kamala Harris who is already looking at a political makeover after a less than successful first year. Of course, it's way too early to make any definitive guesses in presidential politics.
In the background is a reinvigorated former President Donald Trump who is endorsing candidates (trying to maintain his position as the leader of the GOP) and begun holding rallies again, still voicing his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, an argument his base gladly cheers on, overlooking entirely the facts, and the protest/insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6, motivated by Trump’s rhetoric.
Trump has potential opposition to get the 2024 nomination, primarily at the moment from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Trump acolyte who is doing scary things in Florida on the pandemic and voting rights and incurring Trump’s wrath for being ungrateful to the help and support Trump gave him in his election. Of course his wrath or his praise last only until the next bright object comes along.
It ain’t pretty no matter which side you’re on.