By MARSHA MERCER
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Joe Biden won more than 81 million popular votes, the
most of any presidential candidate in American history. He won 306 electoral
votes, well more than the 270 needed for presidential victory.
And yet, one year into his presidency, only 43% of
Americans approve of the way he’s handling his job and 56% disapprove, the latest
Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll reported
It was one of many recent polls that show Biden
underwater. There are many reasons for his fall from grace: the chaotic
withdrawal from Afghanistan, inflation and lasting COVID-19 misery, to name
But no other president has had to deal with the
headwinds of a predecessor who refuses to accept defeat, goaded his followers to
storm the Capitol in hopes of overturning the will of the people, and continues
to cling to his delusions that he won.
This should scare everybody who cares about democracy.
To this day, many Republicans stubbornly believe the Big Lie, although the
former president and his supporters have failed to prove any of their
Candidate Biden promised to restore integrity, dignity
and competence to the White House. People were grateful for his steadiness and calm
after four years of unrelenting craziness.
In his inaugural address last year, Biden cautioned that
overcoming the many challenges facing the country would require “that most
elusive of things in a democracy: Unity. Unity.” And he asked every American to
join him in the cause.
Sadly, they didn’t. Biden has had to fight to keep progressive
Democrats on his side. Meanwhile, Republicans solidly united against him.
“I did not anticipate that there’d be such a stalwart
effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden
didn’t get anything done,” Biden said in his news conference Wednesday.
Only 28% of people think the country is on the right
track, according to the most recent Real Clear Politics average of polls.
Biden says he doesn’t believe polls, but they show a
disturbing trend in an election year. Both political independents and Democrats
have turned away from him.
Gallup reports that Biden’s job approval rating -- 50%
among independents during his first six months – has plunged to 33%. Early on,
90% of Democrats said Biden was doing a good job; that support has dropped to
numbers are almost as bad as his predecessor’s after a year. Only 38.4% of
Americans approved of President Donald Trump’s job performance then, Gallup
Biden’s news conference lasted nearly two hours. Although
nearly everyone agrees it went on too long, Biden showed a command of many
topics, which should dispel criticism he’s not mentally up to the job. But he
left unclear how the United States and NATO may respond to a Russian invasion
Biden defended his record, citing 6 million new jobs
created in the last year and a drop in the nation’s unemployment rate to 3.9%
He also suggested he plans a reboot. Let’s hope so. A
shift in approach and tone will be necessary to mend relations with voters and
save his party from ignominy in November.
He will spend more time traveling, campaigning with
congressional candidates, and raising campaign money, he said. He hopes looking
voters in the eye and telling them where he stands will remind them why they
voted for him and persuade them to back Democratic candidates.
He also will consult experts from academia, editorial
writers and think tanks for “constructive criticism about what I should and shouldn’t
That Biden is open to advice is an encouraging sign.
Hours after the news conference, the Senate jettisoned
a massive voting rights bill, dealing the president another blow.
Biden vows not to give up on his stalled legislative agenda,
though it will not be as grand as he hoped. He likely will break up the Build
Back Better bill into digestible parts and press for passage of popular items,
such as the climate section.
By focusing on the most important issues, he can
challenge Republicans to put up or shut up.
Previewing a theme we’re likely to hear often, he said:
“Think about this: What are Republicans for? What are
© 2022 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.