top of page

My Expectations Were Always That Biden WOuldn't Be As Bad As Trump-- And He's Living Up To Them

"Bully Pulpit" by Nancy Ohanian

I didn't vote for Joe Biden. I didn't even consider voting for Joe Biden, not for a nano-second. I've known who Joe Biden is since the early 1970s when he ran for the Senate the first time as a full on racist. He never got any better, even if he eventually figured out how to "work" Democratic voters. He was always a conservative, very much like what Joe Manchin is today. Yes, of course Trump is the greater evil... but I'm old and feel I now have the right to not vote for evil, not even relatively less evil. I voted for Obama in 2008-- and that was the last time I voted for a major party presidential candidate in a general election. If Bernie-- or Jeff Merkley or Elizabeth Warren-- gets the nomination in 2024, that will change. Otherwise, I doubt it.

But the point I want to make isn't about how prescient I was about Biden. Instead I want to ask why millions of Democratic primary voters weren't. How could they have picked Biden over Bernie? Biden was dead in the water, fighting for 5th place and then Obama decided he should be the candidate and told Clyburn to fix it in South Carolina, a state whose politics no Democrat should pay more than a passing interest to. So the Democrats got stuck with someone who could well turn out to be one of the most inconsequential nothings to ever occupy the White House, obviously not as bad as Trump... but do you want that on your tombstone?

Unless he stumbles into some existential catastrophe-- so not counting what he couldn't do, like Climate Change or even raising the minimum wage-- but something he actually does, like starting a nuclear war or something on that scale, Biden is destined to rank with nonentities like Chester Arthur, Warren G. Harding, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley. That crew may not be among the worst presidents-- like Trump, Andrew Johnson, Buchanan, Nixon, Pierce, Hoover, Tyler, George W. Bush-- but we sure could have done without them. Like Biden.

Modest promise turned into an abandoned failure

Biden is polling in the toilet. I tend to ignore Rasmussen polls because they're a Republican firm which gives their sponsors the results they want (they have Biden at 41% approval, 58% disapproval-- 17 points underwater). But more reliable polling outfits, like Fox, show Biden underwater too. The latest Fox poll shows Biden with 47% approval and 51% disapproval, more or less in line with other plausible pollsters. Trafalgar is a Republican firm which just tested Trump vs Biden in New Hampshire and showed that Trump would beat him by 2 points-- 48-46. Last year Biden beat Trump there 52.7% to 45.4%. That's an ugly swing in a swing state.

And Biden is "leading" congressional Democrats down a rat hole. Every poll has turned around and now shows the Democrats losing the House. The most recent YouGov poll for The Economist, shows peopler in a surly mood and blaming it on Biden (and the Democrats). Among registered voters 29% say the country is going in the right direction and 59% say it's going in the wrong direction-- and that includes 32% of people who voted for Biden last year! Among registered voters Biden has a 48% approval and a 50% unfavorable. 11% of self-described liberals also disapprove of Biden. [It's worth noting that Trump's favorable number among registered voters is 40% and his unfavorable number is 55%.] Only 43% of registered voters think Biden is a strong leader. 57% think he's a weak leader, including 20% of people who voted for him 2020.

The Democratic Party has a 42% favorable/53% unfavorable and the Republican Party has a 33% favorable/60% unfavorable. And who would they vote for if congressional elections were held today? 42% said a Democrat, 38% said a Republican and 20% said they were either unsure, unwilling to vote for either or that they would vote for a 3rd party candidate.

Another unkept promise

Writing for The Atlantic this morning, Russell Berman, looked at how progressives view Biden. Basically, they're not going to vote for a Republican but they are disappointed in Biden-- not necessarily disapproving but... Berman described it as a feeling of ennui. Damn, I wish they had been reading DWT for the last couple of decades. Berman wrote that "The most glaring explanation for the president’s slide is that finicky independents-- the nation’s perennial swing voters-- have deserted him. In a recent survey conducted by Marist for NPR, Biden’s approval rating with this cohort stood at just 37 percent; in April, by comparison, 52 percent of independents backed the president’s performance in the same poll, a number that nearly matched his overall approval rating in the survey of 54 percent. Yet recent surveys have also picked up a distinct softening of support for the president on the left. Biden was riding highest in the polls in the spring, around the 100-day mark of his presidency. Congressional Democrats had just passed his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and sent $1,400 checks to millions; COVID case counts were plummeting as vaccines became widely available. Among Democrats, Biden’s approval rating in the spring stood in the mid-90s, but in several recent polls, it has fallen into the low 80s. The drop among self-identified liberals was even bigger-- just 66 percent approved of the president’s performance in a recent Monmouth poll, compared with 88 percent in April."

When Bernie finally exploded at West Virginia reactionary and McConnell aly Joe Manchin today, he didn't blame Biden at all. "The President of the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives and 49 members of the U.S. Senate," he wrote in an e-mail to supporters, "are prepared to pass enormously consequential legislation which stands up to powerful special interests and finally deliver for the working families of our country. With almost every Democrat in the House and Senate on board, there is one member of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate who stands in the way. Senator Joe Manchin.

In America today the very rich are becoming richer while millions of working families are struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills. We now have the absurd situation in which two multi-billionaires own more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans, the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 92% and the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time in the last 100 years.
The Build Back Better bill, supported by President Biden, the vast majority of Americans and almost every Democrat in Congress is an unprecedented effort to finally address the long-neglected crises facing working families and demand that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in the country start paying their fair share of taxes.
Here are just a few of the things we are trying to do:
We are going to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower the cost of prescription drugs in America. Last year, while nearly one out of four Americans could not afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors wrote, six of the largest drug companies made tens of billions in profits.
We are going to expand Medicare to cover hearing aids, dental care and eyeglasses. Today, in the wealthiest nation on earth, millions of seniors cannot chew their food or see and hear their loved ones.
We are going to help seniors and people with disabilities get the home health care they need. Across the United States, and in places like West Virginia and Vermont in particular, seniors should be able to be around their loved ones as they age as opposed to being forced into expensive nursing homes.
We are going to expand the Child Tax Credit that has reduced childhood poverty by 50 percent in the United States.
We are going to end the dysfunction of a childcare system that forces working families to spend up to 1/3 of their limited income on childcare and keeps millions of women out of the workforce.
We are going to make sure pre-K for 3 and 4 year olds is universal and free, giving our young children the best chance at success regardless of where they are from or how much money their parents make.
And oh yes, there is the not-so-small matter of the existential threat of climate change. With the planet getting warmer and warmer, unprecedented drought, fires, flood, and extreme weather, we are going to finally begin the process of cutting carbon emissions and transforming our energy systems to save this planet for future generations.
This morning, Senator Manchin announced he would not support the Build Back Better Act.
And if that is the case, he should be prepared to vote NO before the working families of West Virginia and America and explain why.
We should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain to West Virginia and American people why he opposes taking on the greed of the drug companies and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
We should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain to West Virginia seniors why he opposes helping them secure hearing aids, dental care and the eyeglasses they need.
We should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain to families why their loved ones should age in expensive nursing homes instead of around those who care about them most.
We should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain why only the children of the wealthy from certain zip codes should have the opportunity to attend pre-K.
And we should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain why he sides with those who profit from climate change and the destruction of the planet for future generations.
Now I know Joe Manchin continues to talk about his concerns over the national debt, but I find it amusing I didn’t hear his concerns after voting, just this week, for a military budget of $778 billion, four times greater than the Build Back Better Act over ten years and $25 billion more than the president suggested.
Forgive me thinking that maybe, just maybe, something else is at play here.
Joe Manchin should have the chance to explain what it is.

bottom of page