[guest post by JVW]
This upcoming Wednesday will mark 52 weeks of Joe Biden’s Presidency. Coming on the heels of what has been a disastrous week (and, to be sure, really about six months) for the novice administration, there are sure to be plenty of think-pieces coming from right, left, and center, all appraising the first year of the 46th President and making suggestions for how the Chief Executive and his team can turn around what is pretty much by consensus an awful start (certainly there will be professional Democrats who will write pieces suggesting that Team Biden has had several substantial wins that will pay off down the road). Jim Geraghty at National Review has gotten a head start on the rest of the pundits with an amazing piece which makes a convincing case that Joe Biden’s Presidency has been an unmitigated disaster. I implore you go over there and read it in full, but I’ll tease you with a few tidbits:
[Biden] just screws up, over and over again. I ranted this litany to a friend who observed that this isn’t even counting the legislative fights that Biden chose, knowing the extraordinary difficulty of passage with a small majority for House Democrats and a 50-50 Senate: Build Back Better, a federal takeover of election administration, and creating at least a carve-out of the filibuster if not eliminating it entirely. As Phil Klein summarizes, “Biden wasted months of negotiations hoping that Manchin would suddenly change his mind on a kitchen-sink bill. . . . Clearly, Biden’s calculations on the art of the possible have been way off.”
[. . .]
Biden’s fundamental personal problem is that he wildly overestimates his own persuasiveness and charm. He’s prickly, thin-skinned, and as we’ve seen, a clumsy demagogue. (Some of us remember “Gonna put you back in chains!”) He’s frequently something of a jerk or an ass; people may remember Biden saying, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent,” but they rarely remember that it’s one of the first things Biden said upon meeting that Indian-American supporter. His better days seem rarer than in the Obama years, and even on those, he comes across as a garrulous wacky neighbor whom you start keeping your distance from because you know any interaction will lead to your being forced to listen to a lot of lengthy, meandering, self-aggrandizing stories. Biden was always prone to exaggeration, but now he seems to be blurring stories he once heard with experiences that actually happened to him. On his worst days, Biden’s indignation and anger burst forth with little warning and even less justification or coherence — “that was four or five days ago!”
[. . .]
[The decision to select the woefully incompetent and lazy Kamala Harris] as the Democratic nominee foreshadowed what the country would get with Biden as president. For a man who’s been in politics and elected office as long as he has, he has surprisingly bad instincts. And the consequences of those bad instincts and decisions are piling up higher and higher.
Again, I urge you to read the whole thing, especially Mr. Geraghty’s list of all of the ridiculous and unfulfilled promises that candidate Joe Biden made, as well as his comparison of the agenda demanded by the activist left (to whom President Biden has inexplicably tailored his own) to an agenda which would find favor with a center-left to center-right coalition of voters.
Joe Biden is a very mediocre man. If you were to gather him along with 1000 other random people in a room and measure their intelligence, I am willing to bet that at best Mr. Biden would come in somewhere in the very middle of the pack, in the 45%-55% range. When elected to the United States Senate, he almost certainly found himself in the bottom decile of members in terms of brainpower, and it’s not as if that body is exactly a collection of MENSA card holders. One hallmark of Joe Biden’s political career has been an ongoing need to justify himself — a small state Senator who was elected largely on looks and a certain degree of Irish charm — and to try to prove that he does indeed belong. He mostly has done this by ingratiating himself with his party’s leadership every step of the day, whether they be populist segregationists, Ivy League leftists, or corrupt party hacks. And his hail-fellow-well-met attitude has allowed him to attain a certain level of affection, though not really respect, with members of the other party. Now that he has made it to the pinnacle of his profession, you would think that he might drop the pretense and be just Good Ol’ Joe, but it seems pretty obvious that his feelings of inadequacy are so much a part of who he is that he is compelled to style himself as the next FDR or LBJ, which isn’t really what the moment calls for, regardless of the New York Times editorial page insisting otherwise.
Had things gone as they should have, Joe Biden could have wound down his long pointless career in the Senate and maybe retired after the 2014 or 2020 elections. It’s to our eternal regret that Barack Obama, himself a tyro and desiring a Washington veteran who would not overshadow him with anything resembling competence, dragged the garrulous blowhard into the White House beside him. It’s further to our eternal regret that the personal dysfunction of Donald Trump and the sheer lunacy of most of the Democrat candidates in the last election cycle led the party poobahs to settle on the crazy old codger as the electable figure and then to get their media allies to brand him as “centrist” and “unifying.” And no doubt there will be more regret to come until that blessed day when President Biden waves goodbye one final time and boards Air Force One (or a special Amtrak train) to head home to Delaware. Of course it is quite possible that he will be replaced by someone far worse.