It’s All Right, Biden’s Getting His Approval Right Back To Where He Started From
Last week, President Joe Biden's approval rating fell to a dismal 38 percent in a Quinnipiac poll. Instead of rushing out to interview steadfast Biden supporters in Atlanta barber shops, the media called Biden's presidency dead on arrival. FiveThirtyEight took a deep dive into why Biden's approval rating isn't bouncing back, because apparently it should've taken him less than two months to recover from the Taliban seizing Afghanistan and the Delta variant ravaging the nation. Senior Elections Analyst Nathaniel Rakich noted that Biden's approval was lower at this point in his term than any other president since 1945, with the exception of Gerald Ford and Donald Trump. Considering that Biden's likely running against one of those former presidents in 2024, this isn't the worst news. (Please God, let it be Zombie Ford.)
Today, Politico declared that Biden is “trapped in coronavirus malaise," and the reason his presidency's in ruins is simple: “It's the pandemic, stupid." Yes, those are two references to past Democratic presidents, and while they're extremely dated, they also don't make any sense.
Democratic strategist James Carville famously hung a sign in Bill Clinton's Little Rock campaign headquarters that listed three simple rules for unseating George H.W. Bush: 1) Change vs. more of the same 2) It's the economy, stupid and 3) Don't forget health care (the Clinton administration would do just that by 1994). However, unlike the first President Bush, who tried to distract from his failed economic policies with culture war garbage, Biden has remain laser focused on the pandemic. He successfully reached his goal of 70 percent of Americans partially vaccinated in August. That was a month late, but the tardiness is excusable if you consider that most of the Republican Party and the rightwing media ecosystem had conspired to sabotage these efforts. They cynically believe that if the pandemic's not fully behind us next year, they'll benefit at the midterm elections. It's a Lord Farquaad from Shrek strategy that's both evil and counterproductive: They're killing their own voters.
On Independence Day 1979, President Jimmy Carter addressed the many challenges facing the nations, notably the energy crisis, unemployment, and inflation — the actual kind, not the made-up version Republicans are trying to pin on Biden. (In reality, what looks like inflation is the economy restarting after a global pandemic.) He didn't actually use the word “malaise," but you'll get the point:
The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
Jesus Christ, Jimmy, don't read Sylvia Plath before giving a speech!
Biden isn't as out-of-touch as George H.W. Bush and he's far more upbeat about the nation's outlook than Carter was. He's not following the same path as previous one-term presidents. However, Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump Republican strategist, raised concerns with the results from a focus group of Pennsylvania voters who gave Biden a less than gentlemanly C minus grade for his job performance so far. They are upset that Biden hasn't single-handedly ended the pandemic, and as usual, they don't seem aware that Republicans exist and are pushing horse paste on street corners.
One woman said she wanted to buy a car but supply chain issues were delaying new shipments to the dealership. A man complained about understaffed restaurants.
Wait, more than 700,000 Americans are fucking dead, and these assholes are pissed because they have to wait a while for a new car or their grand-slam breakfast? Longwell dropped the dreaded “malaise" word to describe voter discontent.
LONGWELL: People don't feel like their lives have been improved. They did sort of feel that promises aren't being kept.
That's not Biden's fault. He has an actual agenda that will help people. Republicans and their two pet Democrats are the ones threatening its passage. Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress passed a life-saving COVID-19 relief package without a single Republican vote. They would've let people starve. Republicans should be running away from villagers with torches, not plotting their big fascist comeback.
This is all hella frustrating, but on the upside, CBS released a poll Sunday showing Biden at 50 percent approval and he's regaining ground with independents, who are very much a “what have you done for me lately?" demo.
I'm not ready to count old Uncle Joe out just yet. He's still got some fight in him. If Democrats get their act together and pass a robust reconciliation bill, Biden will have kicked “malaise" in the ass.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."