Each poll has been dutifully reported, each setback adequately chronicled. But there was no sense of critical mass, as with yesterday’s Politico headline:
Biden’s problem branches out farther and deeper than the press, but his unusually low media profile isn’t helping him. The president grants few interviews, takes questions a couple of times a week, and seems uninterested in driving a consistent media message. So the story becomes about vaccine mandate battles or Hill gridlock or Haitian migrants, with Biden and his team playing catch up or, worse, looking like bystanders.
While sticking to mostly scripted events worked fine in the campaign and when things were going well, it’s a strategy that is ill-suited to turbulent times. After nearly nine months in office, Biden is starting to own the lack of results as well as the blunders, like the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
If Biden had taken the win on the infrastructure bill—rather than bowing to the Bernie wing by tying it to a gargantuan measure that is way too costly to pass—his fortunes would be looking different now.
Notably, it comes as no surprise that Biden’s plunging numbers pretty closely track the Delta variant surge, which is starting to decline.
Politico reports that nine members of a Pennsylvania focus group gave Biden grades of C- or lower, and kept circling back to Covid. Biden supporter Sarah Longwell, who had been a Republican strategist, uses the word "malaise": "People don’t feel like their lives have been improved. They sort of feel that promises aren’t being kept."
Veteran Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg insisted that "the president’s decline is alarming. It’s serious. But it also can be reversed."
In National Review, Deroy Murdoch claimed Republicans are being too nice to the president by saying things like "Biden’s not in control. He has no idea what’s going on. Biden doesn’t know what day it is."
That’s "nonsense," declared the Fox News contributor: "This is Joe Biden’s White House, and he calls the shots — or at least goes along with what happens there and across the executive branch that he oversees."
Michael Gerson, the Bush White House staffer turned Washington Post columnist, says that total GOP control of the government "in the hands of a reelected, empowered Donald Trump in 2025" is now "the likely outcome." For Gerson, a NeverTrumper, that is a "nightmare prospect."
That seems to be a mildly pessimistic take for an election more than three years away. But it suggests that Biden has to dig his way out of a deep hole just to regain the confidence of his supporters.