Biden Just Won't Admit When He's Screwed Up




  • In Politics
  • 2022-01-21 10:02:57Z
  • By The Daily Beast
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty  

Don't count on a comeback for President Joe Biden. As conventional wisdom catches up with my rather negative critique of Biden's presidency thus far, we are already seeing hints of the next contrarian narrative: "It's not too late for him to turn it around"-and its second cousin-"Here's how Biden could turn it around."

I'll play along.

If the president wants to salvage what's left of his term, he will have to accept that he misread and misinterpreted his mandate. This acknowledgement would demand both substantive and symbolic reversals, including (but not limited to) policy and staff changes.

Unfortunately, if his recent comments are any indication, Biden doesn't think he has anything to learn. In that sense, he's a lot like former President Donald Trump, who also infamously refused to acknowledge his mistakes. This tells me that things are going to go from bad to worse.

Consider Wednesday's long-anticipated press conference.

Joe Biden Was Elected to Be Less Divisive Than Trump and He's Failing Miserably at It

Biden volunteered three things that he was going to do differently in his second year: (1) "I'm going to get out of this place more often," he said, referring to the White House. (2) He would be "seeking… more advice of experts outside, from academia, to editorial writers, to think tanks." And (3) "We're going to be raising a lot of money. We're going to be out there making sure that we're helping all of those [Democratic] candidates."

Leaving the White House every once in a while is hardly a game changer. Hanging out with experts, academics, and writers induced delusions of grandeur that made him believe he could be the next FDR or LBJ, which hasn't worked out great for the 46th president. And listing fundraising on his short list of action items only highlights how far off-point he is, by prioritizing partisan politics and campaigning over competent governing.

Consider the first-year lessons that Biden should have (but, as evidenced by his presser, clearly hasn't) taken to heart.

In a self-assessment on what he delivered in his first year (including his pledge to shut down COVID-19): Biden insisted, "I didn't overpromise." (He did).

On failing to work across the aisle to pass his legislative agenda: Biden conceded that his White House has never even phoned Sen. Mitt Romney, adding, "I didn't call many Republicans at all."

And when challenged about his divisive rhetoric, Biden denied comparing his political adversaries to George Wallace, Bull Connor, and Jefferson Davis, even as he seemed to double down on the accusation.

When asked about the senior support staff that helped steer him to such anemic approval ratings, Biden declared: "I'm satisfied with the team." But then again, why should he worry about his numbers circling the drain when he's sure it's all fake news? "I don't believe the polls," Biden said.

The president continued to flirt with another conspiracy theory: the idea that the 2022 elections could be corrupted ("I think it easily could be illegitimate," he said). This is a dangerous notion to preemptively and promiscuously float, and obviously hearkens to Trump's allegations that the 2020 election was "rigged."

I know it's tiresome to keep repeating it, but Biden was elected to be the opposite of Trump. This means a return to normalcy. This means working across the aisle. This means competence. This means toning down the harsh rhetoric about domestic political adversaries. This means not questioning the legitimacy of elections. And this means accepting responsibility and being willing to change. Joe Biden has failed spectacularly on all those counts.

Now, it's possible that some of the problems will miraculously fix themselves. Maybe COVID infections decline, the supply chain gets fixed, and inflation recedes. But we all know that hope isn't a practical political strategy, and he doesn't seem keen to make any substantive changes.

Will refusing to condemn soft-on-crime district attorneys help bring down the crime rate? Will spending trillions more help allay inflation fears? It seems unlikely.

Dems Had One Job: Don't Be Crazy. They're Mucking It Up.

Bill Clinton, too, struggled early in his presidency. But after a horrible 1994 midterm, he dramatically changed course. No president since Clinton has listened to the message delivered by voters and substantially adjusted (with a few small exceptions, such as George W. Bush firing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld following the 2006 midterms). The feckless presidential model of both Trump and Barack Obama was to ignore criticism, press ahead, and pander to the base.

Of course, Biden could choose to pivot to the commonsense center. But will he?

So, no. It's not too late for Biden to turn things around in time for 2024. But there is zero reason to believe he will.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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