Has Joe Biden been underrated? Despite his obvious health problems and endless mocking by Republicans, he may have developed a knack for winning.
Few thought he could win the primaries, but he won by a healthy margin. He then went on to win both the electoral college and the popular vote in the 2020 election, despite Team Trump’s effort to prove he stole the election.
Republicans thought they could win at least one of the two Senate seats they held in Georgia on Jan. 5, which would have meant Mitch McConnell would still be the majority leader. But they lost both seats, with Chuck Schumer now ruling the upper chamber. Surely our new president was too flummoxed and feeble to help persuade Congress to approve a massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill, but he did so without the support of a single Republican in either house.
Many Republicans clearly liked numerous provisions that benefitted their individual states, with GOP Sen. Roger Wicker publicly praising the $26 billion steered to Mr. Wicker’s state of Mississippi. The senator, like all Republicans, condemned the tremendous cost, which even The Washington Post warned was “excessive.” But the bill was a smash hit with the public, with 70% favoring the legislation. So Mr. Biden has a point when he says there’s bipartisan backing for his policies.
The president has other things going for him, including several vaccines brought to him by his predecessor that are dramatically lowering the more deadly effects of the pandemic and are expected to bring the unemployment rate down to 6% or less by the 2022 off-year election. That would be more than half of what it was just about a year ago.
There’s another thing to consider. Conservatives have served up all sorts of excuses as to why Georgia, once considered a GOP fortress, seems to be turning blue. Donald Trump became the first Republican since 1992 to lose the presidency, and the Democrats then ousted two incumbent GOP senators in the January 2021 runoff.
Kelly Loeffler, who lost in that January squeaker to the deeply Marxist Raphael Warnock, insists that Georgia may be permanently lost to the GOP. Part of the reason: the brilliant organizational skills of Stacey Abrams. Largely because of Ms. Abrams’ hard work, Ms. Loeffler says, Democrats are now outregistering Republicans “by roughly 8,000 a month,” a gap that may be too wide to close.
Mr. Biden’s current popularity has been aided by two of Mr. Trump’s biggest achievements: the development of those vaccines and measures that produced a booming economy, which Mr. Biden sort of pocketed as his own accomplishments in that first press conference. Mr. Biden did several things during that hour that served him well politically. He faced questioners without serious embarrassment. Even Fox News anchor Dana Perino gave him a passing grade.
There were exaggerations and outright lies, especially about the Trump administration’s tax cuts and those illegal border crossings (which just reached a 15-year high and continue to mushroom). But if Team Biden thought the president’s chronicling positive developments regarding the pandemic and the economy was what Americans cared about the most, and what they voted for, you would have to call his outing a success.
The president began the conference spreading good cheer. Under his administration, 200 million people will have been vaccinated against the coronavirus in the first 100 days. Most of K-8 public and private schools should be open by May. With passage of the just passed American Rescue Plan, economists now predict a 6% growth in the economy. He also boasted that “more than 100 million payments of $1,400 have gone into people’s bank accounts.”
The president’s buoyant mood was not misplaced. The Wall Street Journal’s lead story the next day reported the good news: “Jobless Claims Drop to Pandemic Low Point.” Then there was more good news: The Dow had risen 453 points following his press conference, climbing to peaks rivaling those set by Mr. Trump.
The nearly 2 trillion had barely been approved when Mr. Biden, again playing Lord Bountiful, pressed his Democratic troops in Congress to chip in an additional $4 trillion in new spending. But don’t worry, he assured the deficit worriers, most of the bill will be covered by $3 trillion in punishing new taxes on profitable American businesses, raising corporate tax rates to the highest among major industrial nations. (Families and individuals making under $400,000 annually, however, wouldn’t be hit.)
The results, he insisted, will turn this nation into a workers’ and middle-class paradise, with an infrastructure so spectacular, global warming so tamed, poverty so reduced, wages so high and an economy so vibrant that China’s President Xi Jinping will be left gasping.
Will the American people embrace this highly miraculous but very implausible outcome? They haven’t rejected it, as the president’s popularity, as well as the stock market, continues to climb. (The latest Real Clear Politics numbers show his job approval rating at 54%, with just 43% disapproving.)
This good fortune may not last, of course, but Mr. Biden, at least for the moment, appears to have gauged the public’s mood better than his critics.
• Allan H. Ryskind, a former editor and owner of Human Events, is the author of “Hollywood Traitors” (Regnery, 2015).
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