This week could effectively spell the end of the Biden presidency.
A poll in the liberal New York Times on Monday showed that nearly two-thirds of Democrats want somebody else, anybody else, besides Mr. Biden to run on the party’s ticket in 2024.
It wasn’t a poll by a conservative-leaning group or reported by a conservative outlet such as Breitbart. It was 64% of Mr. Biden’s party, as told to one of the most liberal news outlets in the U.S.
Hours after that devastating poll was released, the president tried to take a victory lap of sorts on gun control by hosting an invitation-only celebration on the South Lawn of the White House.
What happened? Mr. Biden was heckled by one of his invited guests in what should have been one of the safest, most stage-managed political spaces in America.
The heckler, Manuel Oliver, the father of a student killed in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, stood up and yelled at the president during his speech. He challenged Mr. Biden to take stricter action on gun control.
“You have to do more!” he shouted at the president.
Mr. Biden responded as if he were hoping to push his abysmal approval ratings even lower. He barked at the father of the slain student, who was wearing a photo of his 17-year-old son, Joaquin, on his T-shirt: “Sit down!”
Even Mr. Biden must have realized how bad it looked on television, and he quickly changed his tone. He told bodyguards to “let him speak” as security escorted Mr. Oliver away.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president met with Mr. Oliver before the event and that Mr. Biden “understands what loss feels like.”
“Our hearts go out to Manuel Oliver, who has suffered a deep, deep loss. The president agrees with him that we need to do more,” she said.
Also this week, the inflation report for June will be released on Wednesday. It won’t be pretty.
A New York Times/Siena College poll found that the president has an approval rating of 33%. Mr. Biden’s job approval has sunk to a 76-year low for a president at this point in his first term. Correction — his only term.
The report cited “a pervasive sense of pessimism that spans every corner of the country, every age range and racial group, cities, suburbs and rural areas, as well as both political parties.”
Only 26% of Democratic voters said the party should renominate Mr. Biden in 2024. Among Democrats younger than 30, the survey found, 94% don’t want Mr. Biden to be renominated. Just 5% of that age group said they want Mr. Biden to run again.
“Lots of sobering numbers in here,” tweeted David Axelrod, an adviser in the Obama White House. He found comfort in polling that shows, even as two-thirds of the president’s party doesn’t want him to run again, Mr. Biden still leads former President Donald Trump by 3 percentage points in a hypothetical 2024 matchup.
Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, tweeted, “Looks like the NYT doesn’t even want Sleepy Joe anymore. America deserves a better leader.”
Mr. Biden will turn 80 on Nov. 20, and 33% of respondents who want a different Democratic nominee in 2024 cited the president’s age as a concern. David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents, said it’s “inappropriate to seek that office after you’re 80 or in your 80s.”
Asked about the New York Times/Siena poll, Ms. Jean-Pierre said erroneously that “92% of Democrats support this president.” (The survey showed 70% of Democrats approve of the job Mr. Biden is doing and 85% have a favorable opinion of him.)
“There’s going to be many polls. They’re going to go up, they’re going to go down,” she said. “This is not the thing that we’re solely focused on.”
The survey found that only 13% of Americans believe the country is on the right track. Perhaps one of them is former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat who was driven out of office in part by high inflation.
At this point in Mr. Carter’s presidency in 1978, 66% of voters disapproved of the job he was doing on inflation. For Mr. Biden, 71% disapprove of the president’s handling of inflation, CNN reported Monday.
“Of course, that sunk the Carter presidency,” said CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten. “Joe Biden is worse on inflation in the American mind than Jimmy Carter was. That is a ‘no bueno’ comparison.”
The Labor Department on Wednesday is scheduled to report on the inflation rate for June, which some economists are forecasting to top May’s rate of 8.6%, a 40-year high.
The White House said Monday that it expects June’s inflation report “to be highly elevated,” mainly because gasoline prices hit record highs last month.
“Gas and food prices continue to be heavily impacted by the war in Ukraine,” said Ms. Jean-Pierre, who called the data “backward-looking.”
“The president’s No. 1 economic priority is tackling inflation, and looking ahead, there are a number of reasons why we expect those high prices to ease over the coming months,” she said. She cited executive action, including steps to promote business competition. “We understand what the American people are feeling. We understand that inflation is hurting families.”
The conservative Committee to Unleash Prosperity, co-founded by Trump policy economist Stephen Moore, said Monday that it believes inflation has peaked, although June’s rate will still be above 8%.
The group said four indicators of inflation, including commodity prices and interest rates on 30-year Treasury bonds, “are all pointing to a gradual fall in the inflation rate in the months ahead.”
“We expect that in the coming months the inflation rate will fall from 8.6% to the 5 to 6% range,” the committee said. “Alas, that’s still well above the Fed target of 2%. Inflation is coming down because demand is falling (in large part because of the recession) and because the Fed has begun to raise interest rates, thus reducing monetary growth.”
The federal government will report on the second-quarter gross domestic product on July 22, at which time Americans will know whether the U.S. economy is officially in a recession — generally defined as two straight quarters of negative growth. Many economists believe the U.S. is now in a recession after the January-March period.
Gas prices have eased in the past two weeks from their $5-per-gallon peak. Still, even if inflation declined slightly in June, high consumer costs are foremost among voters’ concerns.
In a Monmouth University poll released last week, respondents said their biggest concern was inflation (33%), followed by gas prices (15%), the economy (9%) and everyday household bills (6%). In the survey, 42% of respondents said they are struggling to remain where they are financially.
As Mr. Biden tried to relate an unverified story of a 10-year-old girl who was pregnant after being raped and crossed state lines to get an abortion, the president got tongue-tied again. He said the girl sought to “terminate the presidency.”
Dr. Freud? Paging Dr. Sigmund Freud.
• Dave Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.