Not even close to a victory lap

The Biden administration expected to take a victory lap at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. Unemployment is low, each month’s inflation rate number is a little less bad than the previous one, they had a better midterm-election cycle than expected, and Republicans seem hopelessly divided on what their actual strategy is on the debt-limit fight. Politico reported this week’s prime-time speech was going to be a soft launch for the 2024 reelection campaign: “Biden is planning to use his second State of the Union address to paint the broad strokes of a likely campaign ahead.”

And then, as Axios put it, “China crashes Biden’s State of the Union speech.”

But Biden has more problems than that spy balloon.

The Biden administration might be convinced they’re doing a great job, but the country as a whole doesn’t see it. Biden’s job-approval rating is still 42.5 percent. A new Associated Press survey shows just 37 percent of Democrats say they want him to seek a second term, down from 52 percent in the weeks before last year’s midterm elections.

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds “62 percent of Americans think Biden has accomplished ‘not very much’ or ‘little or nothing’ during his presidency, while 36 percent say he has accomplished ‘a great deal’ or ‘a good amount.’ On many of Biden’s signature initiatives — from improving the country’s infrastructure to making electric vehicles more affordable to creating jobs — majorities of Americans say they do not believe he has made progress.”

ABC News adds, “Four in 10 Americans say they’ve gotten worse off financially since Joe Biden became president, the most in ABC News/Washington Post polls dating back 37 years.” Perhaps some of that is Republicans reflexively declaring that Biden is awful in every way possible. But with inflation averaging 8 percent for 2022, that’s probably some people just calling it as they see it.

Sooner or later, the president or vice president will get asked about this, and you can hear the excuses already: “We don’t have a policy problem, we have a communications problem. People just haven’t heard all the great stuff we’ve done. It’s just not breaking through. And there’s so much misinformation and disinformation out there, and Fox News is so terrible, and blah blah blah.”

If the country is not aware of what Biden has done or people think those new laws and spending initiatives haven’t done enough, perhaps part of it is that we have a president who is 80, who spends every weekend (and usually portions of Friday and Monday) at one of his homes in Delaware, and who rarely speaks outside of the midday hours. When Biden does speak, he’s often reading off a teleprompter, punctuated with the same old tired one-liners and implausible stories.

If this is a victory lap for Biden, imagine what defeat looks like.

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