Thursday, August 26, 2021

Biden's road is rocky, Trump's is rockier -- column of Aug. 26, 2021


As bad as things look for President Joe Biden these days, Donald Trump may have it worse.

After seven months on the job, Biden’s job approval ratings have plunged as the debacle in Afghanistan, the raging delta variant, the crisis at the border and other calamities take a toll.

Only 47% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president and 49% disapprove, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average on Thursday.

Such numbers disturb Democrats, but Biden has time and the economy on his side. The midterm elections are more than a year away.

Biden faces an array of crises that challenge his governing skills. Most Americans support getting U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, but the speedy Taliban takeover showed a lack of strategy and preparedness.

Now, however, the administration is working tirelessly to evacuate tens of thousands of Americans and our Afghan allies. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Wednesday rescue efforts would continue even if U.S. troops leave by the Aug. 31 deadline.

In the war on the pandemic, Biden declared victory too soon. The surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths nationwide has devastated hospitals. But with full government approval of the Pfizer vaccine and others likely soon, more unvaccinated Americans will choose, or be forced, to get the jab, and the vaccinated will get boosters, extending protection.

With luck and barring new variants, the United States should get ahead of the deadly coronavirus and find a new normal way of life next year.

Biden’s massive American Rescue Plan made it through Congress, and House Democrats held together to pass pieces of his ambitious legislative agenda. September will be do-or-die for infrastructure and the budget. The Senate remains a stumbling block, but Biden’s proposals are still on track.

As for Trump, who teases about another presidential bid, he lost the 2020 election by 7 million votes. He also lost his White House megaphone, his favorite social media platforms and much, though not all, the news media coverage he craves.

The sore loser continues to claim falsely he won, and, sadly, many Republicans still believe him, despite numerous recounts and court cases that have turned up no widespread election fraud.

Trump draws large crowds of supporters to his rallies, but his overall approval rating is lower than Biden’s. Only 41% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump with 52% unfavorable, in the latest Real Clear Politics’ average of polls.

Trump even got booed briefly Aug. 21 at an Alabama rally, and right-wing talk radio host Alex Jones turned on Trump, for suggesting people might want to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Fewer than 35% of Alabama residents are vaccinated.

“I believe totally in your freedoms. I do. You’ve got to do what you have to do,” Trump said. Raising his voice for emphasis, he said, “BUT, I recommend take the vaccines. It’s good. I did it. Take the vaccines.”

Trump faces mounting personal woes. The Justice Department said in July the IRS must release Trump’s tax returns to a Congressional panel, as some courts have ruled. Trump’s lawyer says they will fight “tooth and nail” to keep the returns private.

The Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol Wednesday released a barrage of requests to the National Archives and seven other federal agencies for information on a wide range of topics. They set a deadline of Sept. 9.

The Democratic-controlled committee plans to examine Trump’s Sept. 29 comment that the far-right Proud Boys group should “stand back and stand by” as well as “documents and communications related to any plan for the President to march or walk to the Capitol on January 6, 2021” and “documents and communications related to the metal stability of Donald Trump or his fitness for office.”

And that’s just the first wave of the inquiry. In their zeal to hold Trump accountable for one of the worst days in American history, Democrats risk overreach, yet it may take only one incriminating document to land Trump and some congressional allies in trouble.

Biden has time to tackle and solve the many crises facing the country. He and Democrats will need to make effective use of that time to remind voters why they chose Biden over Trump.

©2021 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.

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