For presidents, it typically becomes a numbers game. Fair or unfair, if it happens on a president’s watch, he owns it. Sometimes it’s frustrating happenstance and the luck of the draw, other times it’s earned. Right now President Joe Biden can cite a 3.9 percent unemployment rate as a bragging point, since it was 6.4 percent when he took office. He’s had more than 40 judge appointees confirmed. More than half are black, with 80 percent women. His Administration is on board with science and public health priorities when it never mattered more.
But on the other hand, inflation has hit 7 percent, a third of Americans still aren’t vaccinated, a voting rights bill remains an idealistic long-shot, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are still there, the immigrant-crossing numbers at the Southwest border continue to surge and 13 U.S. military deaths were part of that humiliatingly disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Alas, we will be seeing reminders of that chaotically tragic episode as the mid-terms approach—let alone 2024.
No, President Biden is no unread, uninformed existential threat as his predecessor was. He’s an experienced, decent man past his prime and stuck in an era when bumper sticker ideologies and cult followings rule. But not being Trump, as reflected by Biden poll numbers stuck in the 40s, is not nearly enough.