If political experts were a stock market, Joe Biden’s stock would be trading at an all-time low.
Washington, like Wall Street, can be subject to extreme volatility. The president’s fortunes were booming two months ago and then began to decline – what financial analysts call a correction.
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But for those who haven’t plunged into the madness of the moment, things are rarely as wonderful or horrific as they seem. The Biden White House has never been as successful as his biggest backer has claimed, and the political obituary of his greatest critics may be premature. People have short memories, and politics, like day trading, can be sloppy.
This does not negate the recent damage to the 78-year-old president. It can be difficult to regain trust and credibility once you have lost them.
Biden bashing is hardly limited to the right. Late last month, as the administration launched a desperate and chaotic effort to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan, major organs of the mainstream media unleashed a constant barrage of criticism.
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“President Biden is mired in the most devastating month of his term — struggling to contain a deadly crisis in Afghanistan, an unyielding epidemic, and other setbacks that have sent waves of anger and anxiety through his party as poll numbers plummet,” the Washington Post said.
As President Biden faces a political crisis that has shaken his standing in his party, Democrats across the country are increasingly concerned about their ability to maintain power in Washington, as his administration struggles to defend its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and stem the outbreak of a pandemic, the New York Times said. It’s only been waning for weeks.”
And things have gotten worse with the coronavirus, with Biden tacitly acknowledging the failure of his persuasive strategy to move to enforce blanket mandates for vaccines.
Biden’s modest style — openly marketed as an alternative to Trump’s hectic years — is soothing when things are seen to be going well. But when he’s overwhelmed by the news cycle, a boss who gives fewer interviews and limits press questions can seem like a sideline.
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On Saturday, Biden went to 9/11 commemorations in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, but did not make a speech. On one level, that modesty is impressive, but it also amounts to compromising on the loudspeaker that George Bush literally grabbed at Ground Zero.
Most telling at the moment is watching some right-wingers who either accepted Biden as a reasonable alternative or supported him outright – out of their hatred of Donald Trump – gradually turning against him.
Now part of this may be a bitter disappointment in the man they saw as a reasonable alternative, and part of it may be an attempt to regain some conservative credibility after courting a liberal Democrat. But they cannot be accused of being reflexively hostile.
“Biden has always been essentially a hypothetical president, elected unlike Donald Trump, and initially buoyed by contrast with his bizarre predecessor,” says Rich Lowry, editor of National Review.
But after Trump lost out as a “frustration,” says Lowry, Biden mistook him for getting out of Afghanistan and didn’t appear to be in control.
“Privately, Democrats should know that his performance in his press conferences has not been reassuring, let alone leadership. The problem for Biden is that any incompetent act, whether fair or not, will raise questions about his age, even if he would do exactly the same The thing at thirty-eight he did now when he was seventy-eight.
“This is not a position of strength in which to tackle another structural problem that has been clouded by his initial success in getting new COVID-19 spending and wishful press coverage — uncomfortably narrow margins in Congress.”
This is undeniable. With Joe Manchin able to block anything too costly or liberal in the Senate, and the AOC wing able to sink anything too mild, the clock is ticking on Biden’s domestic agenda ahead of the potential loss of the House of Representatives next year.
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Brett Stevens, the conservative of the New York Times who voted for Biden, describes him as a “dwindling president…Joe Biden was supposed to be the man of the hour: a quiet presence that exudes decency, moderation, and confidence. As a candidate, he sold himself as a transitional president, a patriarchal figure in the mold of George Bush Sr.” Who will restore dignity and prudence to the Oval Office after the lies and chaos that came before.”
Now, Stephens says, Biden has become “the watchword: tenacious yet shaky, ambitious yet inept. He seems the last person in America to realize that, notwithstanding the theoretical merits of the decision to withdraw our remaining forces from Afghanistan, the military and intelligence assumptions upon which they were built were deeply flawed.” The manner in which it was carried out was a patriotic humiliation and moral betrayal, and the timing was disastrous.”
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His bottom line: Biden is “proud, inflexible, and thinks he’s a lot smarter than he really is.”
Of course, if the virus fades and the economy picks up next year, we could be in a Biden bull market. This is especially true if he can audit some of his spending bills directing help to a lot of people. But right now, his arrow had taken a big hit.