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Joe Biden is just a really bad president

In another sign of just how much the Democratic Party has become the thing its members hate most, Democrats are now appealing to Joe Biden’s personal vanity in their effort to nudge the president out of the race for the White House.

Joe Biden has been “a uniquely successful president,” former congressman Tom Malinowski wrote in a statement urging Biden to pass on a second nomination to the presidency. “Joe Biden is a good man and has been a good president,” former HUD secretary Julián Castro insisted before calling on Biden to stand down. “We owe you the greatest debt of gratitude,” Representative Mike Quigley declared. “Mr. President,” he intoned softly before delivering a merciful coup de grâce, “your legacy is set.”

The number of Democratic professionals, donors, editorial boards, and influential gadflies assuring us that Biden has been a “great president” but should bow out of a second term is significant. The inherent contradictions in their logic trouble them not. The task at hand is to clear the field, not to make sense. The lies that were told on Biden’s behalf are to be compounded by more lies in the effort to dispense with him; their reputational rehabilitation is tomorrow’s problem. But of course, Biden would not be in the unenviable position he presently occupies, even with his cognitive impairments, if he had been a “great president.” In fact, he’s been an awful one.

Democratic partisans have been shielded from the fact that Biden is the most unpopular president in modern history by the commitment among those who occupy the commanding heights of American culture to avoiding any confrontation with this historic condition. Writers, producers, late-night hosts, and other purveyors of mainstream cultural products have steadfastly refused to make the most of the material Biden’s objectively hilarious administration provided them. That omertà created a space that more enterprising cultural critics occupying alternative venues have filled, and the conversation they’re having with average Americans is one into which Democratic partisans have had no input.

But Biden could not have become an object of ridicule if he wasn’t first an object of derision. The contempt in which the public holds the president is amply earned.

Joe Biden long ago validated the concerns of those who questioned his judgment in the conduct of American foreign affairs. The president presided over a bloody national humiliation in Afghanistan, a debacle from which his job-approval ratings never recovered. He rewarded Vladimir Putin’s bellicosity with summitry and mused that America might accept a “minor incursion” into Ukraine, words that preceded a massive incursion. The administration would spend weeks after the invasion arguing with itself in public over the degree of escalation it was willing to court in support of Ukraine’s cause only to somehow lose those arguments.

Biden and his administration have appeared publicly conflicted over their own policy of support for Israel in its war of defense against Hamas, the terrorist group that inaugurated this latest round of hostilities. The war that followed Hamas’s attack has been typified by Iranian proxies targeting U.S. interests and soldiers, sometimes with terrible success, but the administration has treated this challenge like a nuisance, or a delicate problem that demands nuance from the White House — overcaution that is barely distinguishable from hesitancy. And for good measure, Biden has presided over the worst migration crisis in recent memory — a crisis of which he took ownership only after Republicans failed to assume some blame for it themselves.

All this helps explain why voters disapprove of Biden’s handling of foreign affairs by almost 30 points and disapprove of his handling of immigration by a two-to-one margin.

Biden was narrowly elected in 2020 even as his party somehow managed to lose seats in the House. That should have been interpreted by Democrats as voters’ executing a surgical strike on Donald Trump rather than giving the party a mandate for sweeping change. But when Democrats unexpectedly prevailed in Georgia’s Senate runoffs, the incoming president was persuaded by his coterie of flatterers to govern as a transformational figure. That’s what he and his subordinates set out to do.

Under Biden, Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus and a $1 trillion infrastructure package. They sought and failed to pass the $2.3 trillion “Build Back Better” bill, settling on a bait-and-switch $485 billion spending spree on climate-change initiatives and a Medicare expansion. It was called the “Inflation Reduction Act,” even though it did nothing to reduce inflation. Indeed, it helped to overheat an already febrile economy, intensifying the inflationary pressures voters have resented since 2021 and saddling them with high interest rates.

Perhaps that’s why voters disapprove of Biden’s management of the economy by an average of twelve points. It has almost certainly led voters to conduct a retrospective revision of Donald Trump’s economic record, of which voters were skeptical during his term in office but which they now find far more desirable than the status quo.

Biden and his phalanx of defenders spent the early years of the administration insisting that the president was utterly deaf to the appeals of his party’s most radical social engineers. Biden “offers the right, well, a nothingburger on culture wars,” New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin insisted. That was a dubious claim at the time, and it surely doesn’t pertain today.

The president devoted himself to a losing campaign designed to nationalize a California initiative aimed at boosting union membership, at the cost of targeting the popular services that make up the so-called sharing economy. For the same reasons Californians repealed that experiment, Biden’s advocacy failed. But his effort to reshape the American labor landscape in the most unpopular way imaginable took its toll on his political brand.

The president’s administration was “charged with ensuring that the new administration embeds issues of racial equity into everything it does,” according to Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice. That initiative led the administration to violate the 14th Amendment’s protections against racial discrimination by doling out taxpayer-provided benefits to those with the right accidents of birth, and to abandon federal support for lawsuits targeting educational establishments accused of discriminating against white and Asian-American applicants.

The White House came out only recently against surgical remedies for diagnosed gender dysphoria in minors, but it is far behind popular opinion on the subject. Just last month, the Times revealed that the administration “pressed an international group of medical experts to remove age limits for adolescent surgeries from guidelines for care of transgender minors.”

Not only has the Biden administration conceived of itself as a vehicle for the transformation of American culture, it has pursued cultural change maladroitly and in service to initiatives favored only by the insular progressive activist class. All this suffices to explain why, of all the policy issues it tested, Pew Research Center found last year that voters had the least confidence in the president’s ability to “bring the country closer together.”

Joe Biden’s overall unpopularity becomes much easier to comprehend given the factors contributing to it. Now, in their effort to push Biden out of the race, the most panicked Democrats are doing their best to craft for the president the most attractive ice floe in history. They will flatter him, cajole him, and tempt him with a revisionist narrative that deems him one of the greatest chief executives in American history. If Biden’s critics are complacent, that narrative could congeal into an accepted historical fact — especially if the mutineers somehow succeed. But Biden’s parlous political situation exposes that revisionism as nonsensical. If Joe Biden were a “great” and “successful” president, he wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

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