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  • Messing up, Biden-style

    Messing up, Biden-style
    The administration’s errors have the president’s fingerprints all over them

    Boris johnson turns out to have been running a 10 Downing Street operation resembling himself: chaotic, rule-breaking, fond of a tipple. The prime minister could hardly have done otherwise. Governments invariably reflect the style and character of their leader. The Platonic city was a simulacrum of its ruler’s soul. The medieval body politic was synonymous with the king’s own body. American administrations, headquartered in a government office that (like Downing Street) is also a family home, are profoundly in this tradition.

    George W. Bush’s White House was, like the man himself, cheerily upbeat and brutishly anti-intellectual, preferring action to deliberation. Barack Obama’s was cerebral, slick and self-regarding. Donald Trump’s administration makes the Johnson operation look like a Quaker tea party. Joe Biden’s is a huge improvement on it. Its members are, as he is, qualified for their jobs. They do not grift, leak and lie constantly. The ousting this week of Eric Lander, the chief science adviser, for using bullying language was the first hint of White House impropriety in 12 months. Moreover, the decency and professionalism of the president’s top team reflect especially well on his character because many of them have worked for him for years. They include Ron Klain, the chief of staff, and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser. Despite its strengths, however, the administration is turning out to be error-prone in an unerringly consistent fashion.

    Take its cardinal blunder, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer. It pointed to three weaknesses that are characteristic of the 79-year-old president. First, like many of his age and long experience, he has a tendency to hew to outdated positions. He justified his decision to withdraw the troops in terms of a reluctance to send more Americans to their deaths, for example, despite none having been killed fighting in Afghanistan for over a year. Second, and related, the president can seem rather detached from reality. Leaked notes of a White House meeting the day before the Taliban swept into Kabul suggest an administration embarrassingly out of touch with the unfolding disaster. It resolved to encourage its local Afghan staff “to begin to register their interest in relocation to the United States”.

    Third, Mr Biden, who has bridled against smoother-talking critics for decades, tends to respond to any criticism with prickly defiance. The day after the last American troops withdrew from the wreckage of Kabul airport, leaving behind thousands of terrified Afghan collaborators and vast stocks of military hardware, he deemed the evacuation to have been an “extraordinary success”.

    Most of the administration’s failings follow a similar pattern. Scarred by the inadequacy of the Obama stimulus package in 2009, Mr Biden pushed for a much larger fiscal boost last February despite warnings that it could be inflationary. After inflation duly took off, his administration maintained it was nothing to worry about even though opinion polls suggested most voters thought it was. In its doomed effort to persuade an unpersuadable 25% of the population to get vaccinated against covid-19, as Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, has noted, it meanwhile neglected the urgently required next wave of covid-19 measures, including testing and therapeutics. Then it denied having done so.

    Recalling his Senate career, Mr Biden appeared to believe that the bipartisanship he promised on the campaign trail was achievable. When it proved not to be, his administration pushed a compendium of partisan spending plans which hardly any voter under stood. After that failed, it intemperately blasted the moderate Democrat who had killed it, Senator Joe Manchin, reducing its chances of passing any future bill. Again and again, misjudgment has given way to detachment, then unwarranted defiance.

    The spat with Mr Manchin also highlighted another characteristic flaw. Though elected as a moderate, Mr Biden has taken great pains to mollify the left. He would do better to pick a fight with it, as Mr Clinton did, and as he himself did during the campaign. He will not do so, it seems, out of an exaggerated fear of causing a Democratic rupture. And this straightforward misreading of the political mood has also spread through the administration. Having been tasked with handling Mr Biden’s outreach to progressives during the failed legislative negotiation, Mr Klain, like his boss a sometime moderate, stands accused of capitulating to them.

    The president’s shortcomings are hardly news. Robert Gates’s famous claim that Mr Biden had been wrong on “nearly every major foreign-policy and national-security issue over the past four decades” was so crushing because it rang true. Mr Biden was against George H.W. Bush’s successful war with Iraq and for his son’s calamitous repeat of it. He did not look like a credible presidential candidate until the alternative was Donald Trump. Democratic insiders nonetheless convinced themselves that the quality of his loyal retainers would help compensate for his weaknesses. That they are instead being dragged down, as Mr Klain illustrates, points to a more structural problem. Most presidents have an adviser or two of sufficient stature to give them unwelcome advice. Leon Panetta tried, at least, to straighten out Mr Clinton; Rahm Emanuel and Mr Biden himself did the same for Mr Obama. Mr Biden, surrounded by staffers and, in Kamala Harris, a struggling vice-president, appears to have no one able to play that role.

    To err is to be Biden
    It is certainly possible to exaggerate the gravity of his flaws. No administration is perfect. And Mr Biden’s troubles are only partly his fault. Most of the price rises were beyond his control. The main problem with his legislative agenda is that hardly any Republican will consider backing it. But the slenderness of his prospects of success has made his failings appear all the more damaging. He had so little margin for error. And yet he is error-prone. It is hard to see how success can come of that. ■

    Read more from Lexington, our columnist on American politics:
    America is uniting against Vladimir Putin (Feb 5th)
    Environmental justice in the balance (Jan 29th)
    Merrick Garland and his critics (Jan 22nd)

    For coverage of Joe Biden’s presidency, visit our dedicated hub and follow along as we track shifts in his approval rating. For exclusive insight and reading recommendations from our correspondents in America, sign up to Checks and Balance, our weekly newsletter.

  • #2
    I don't know what the Democrats are going to do, but they have to find somebody else to run in 2024. And it can't be Kamala (Bottom of the polls dweller) Harris. (one paper describes her as having a "comically bad approval rating")

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Roh View Post
      I don't know what the Democrats are going to do, but they have to find somebody else to run in 2024. And it can't be Kamala (Bottom of the polls dweller) Harris. (one paper describes her as having a "comically bad approval rating")
      Is Biden Carter II?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by W*GS View Post

        Is Biden Carter II?
        He's going to get curb stomped in the next election.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Roh View Post

          He's going to get curb stomped in the next election.
          As he should

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Roh View Post

            He's going to get curb stomped in the next election.
            Biden is in big trouble.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by W*GS View Post

              Biden is in big trouble.
              I assume he won't run, the main reason being that he's just too damn old. Who will step up among the Dems? They've done a horrible job at grooming the next generation of leadership in the party. The old guard is geriatric. I literally can't think of a single Dem that could step into the role. Al Franken? 😉

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Agent Zero View Post
                As he should
                If Trump takes the WH again, it means the end of the USA, and you know it.

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                • #9
                  How about Tom Vilsack, current Sec of Ag? Might be solid in the Midwest, especially Iowa.

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                  • #10
                    Might as well nickname the next election choices “the pu pu platter”, because that’s what it’s gonna be. 😂

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mile High Salute View Post
                      Might as well nickname the next election choices “the pu pu platter”, because that’s what it’s gonna be. 😂
                      It's not like the Republicans are in any better shape. I assume that within a year or two, Trump will be landed on by numerous indictments and will not be eligible to run. In the absence of Trump, can you imagine the shit show circus the Republican primaries will look like? Cruz? Graham? Hawley? DeSantis? Haley? If the Dems ran a nice, safe guy like Vilsack, on a platform of "Let's all get back to normal," I would envision a pretty solid path to victory.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Roh View Post

                        It's not like the Republicans are in any better shape. I assume that within a year or two, Trump will be landed on by numerous indictments and will not be eligible to run. In the absence of Trump, can you imagine the shit show circus the Republican primaries will look like? Cruz? Graham? Hawley? DeSantis? Haley? If the Dems ran a nice, safe guy like Vilsack, on a platform of "Let's all get back to normal," I would envision a pretty solid path to victory.
                        Don’t get me started lol. The whole system is so screwed up on so many levels. We’re probably only three or four election cycles from literally having President Comacho in there from Idiocracy. 😂


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mile High Salute View Post

                          Don’t get me started lol. The whole system is so screwed up on so many levels. We’re probably only three or four election cycles from literally having President Comacho in there from Idiocracy. 😂

                          At this point, only a constitutional convention could save us. Since almost half the country has gone insane, that would be out of the question. The whole thing is coming down. The only question is, how soon?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Roh View Post

                            At this point, only a constitutional convention could save us. Since almost half the country has gone insane, that would be out of the question. The whole thing is coming down. The only question is, how soon?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Roh View Post

                              If Trump takes the WH again, it means the end of the USA, and you know it.
                              Really?
                              How so

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The main problem with his legislative agenda is that hardly any Republican will consider backing it.
                                That’s not a problem with his legislative agenda - it’s a problem with Republicans.

                                If a Democratic president were to try to make breathing mandatory, then Republicans would suffocate themselves to death.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Mile High Salute View Post
                                  Might as well nickname the next election choices “the pu pu platter”, because that’s what it’s gonna be. 😂
                                  Like Pu Pu on the walls of the Capitol…. Nice!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Agent Zero View Post

                                    Really?
                                    How so
                                    If I have to explain it to you then it can't be explained to you.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by L.A. BRONCOS FAN View Post

                                      That’s not a problem with his legislative agenda - it’s a problem with Republicans.

                                      If a Democratic president were to try to make breathing mandatory, then Republicans would suffocate themselves to death.
                                      The Republicans have no "legislative agenda." Their goal is to seize power and eliminate opposition. One party state. Authoritarian. Fascism.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Roh View Post

                                        If I have to explain it to you then it can't be explained to you.
                                        It’s okay

                                        just admit you have nothing

                                        Comment


                                        • #21
                                          Originally posted by Roh View Post

                                          The Republicans have no "legislative agenda." Their goal is to seize power and eliminate opposition. One party state. Authoritarian. Fascism.
                                          So?
                                          what’s wrong with that.

                                          bow down to my Republican feet

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                                          • #22
                                            Originally posted by Agent Zero View Post
                                            It’s okay

                                            just admit you have nothing
                                            More like, deep in the cult, you see nothing.

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                                            • #23
                                              Originally posted by Roh View Post

                                              The Republicans have no "legislative agenda." Their goal is to seize power and eliminate opposition. One party state. Authoritarian. Fascism.
                                              Yep.

                                              Comment


                                              • #24
                                                Originally posted by Roh View Post

                                                More like, deep in the cult, you see nothing.
                                                You made a statement that you can’t back up
                                                Only reason you don’t want to answer is because you can’t

                                                Comment


                                                • #25
                                                  Originally posted by L.A. BRONCOS FAN View Post

                                                  Yep.

                                                  What about Thai democracy

                                                  Comment

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