According to critics, the White House's supply chain spin is complicating the politics of an already-tangled problem for President Joe Biden.

Odd throwback references to Cabbage Patch Kids and Beanie Babies and relying on a dubious system to count the number of container ships waiting off the coast to dock and unload cargo have renewed empathy and competence concerns regarding Biden.

The White House is borrowing from its inflation playbook by downplaying supply chain issues, to the detriment of Biden and other Democrats, according to Republican strategist Doug Heye.

Biden and top White House officials, including chief of staff Ron Klain and press secretary Jen Psaki, have dismissed inflation. They have contended, for instance, that it “doesn’t exist,” “it’s transitory," “it’s a high-class problem,” or “it’s Republicans’ fault.” And when needled on supply chain kinks with "dishwashers and furniture and treadmills" in October, Psaki replied: "The tragedy of the treadmill that's delayed."

"Voters have real frustrations here. And so the tenor that the White House should be taking is that they understand those concerns and that they share them and are trying to fix them," Heye told the Washington Examiner. "Making light of difficulties that voters are feeling, that are real, can backfire on them and make them look aloof and out of touch. And, you know, that's what they can ill afford."

Biden's supply chain rhetoric will likely cement the poor public perception of his capacity for empathy and competence while compounding his lackluster polling numbers, according to Heye. Fewer than two-fifths of Morning Consult respondents told researchers last month that they believe the president "cares about people like me." That is a precipitous drop from 53% in April.

And Biden can easily acknowledge supply chain issues without taking responsibility for them, Heye said.

"Every month, we see contrasting economic numbers," the former Republican National Committee spokesman added. "It suggests that it's not a problem that's going away anytime soon."

Biden likened pandemic-induced supply chain issues last week to when items "sell out" or "are hard to find" because of increased holiday demand.

"Some of you moms and dads may remember Cabbage Patch Kids back in the ‘80s or Beanie Babies in the ‘90s or other toys that had run out at Christmas time in past years when there was no supply chain problem," he said at the White House.

And last month, Biden touted how the number of containers sitting on the Port of Los Angeles's and the Port of Long Beach's docks for more than eight days was down by 40%. But this month, the number of cargo ships queuing at the port complex was revised up to 96 from 86 in November, incorporating vessels "loitering" outside designated anchor zones.

Biden's Cabbage Patch Kids supply chain message is "not a good move," according to Republican strategist Susan Del Percio. Del Percio criticized Biden's slow rollout of countermeasures, such as extended port hours.

"They should be giving updates so people know what to expect instead of staying back in the '80s," she said. "This administration tends to always be following the news instead of getting ahead of it."

While supply chain policymaking is not straightforward, Del Percio argued that Biden and his team must overcome communications hurdles.

"People are still suffering through COVID financially. Gas prices are up. Inflation is up," she said. "That all fits into a building narrative, and that's what they have to fight. It's not like there's just a supply chain issue. That would be one thing, but there's a lot of other things."

Biden does have limited options at his disposal that could yield short-term supply chain results, according to Bipartisan Policy Center Chief Economist Jason Fichtner.

"The economy is still working through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that closed businesses, led to layoffs, transitioned many people to working from home, and created disruptions to manufacturing that have caused ripple effects," he said.

For Fichtner, businesses are playing their part in easing supply chain bottlenecks by raising pay and offering more generous employee benefits to attract and retain staff, in addition to investing in domestic semiconductor chip production. And the former Republican Social Security Administration appointee and Congressional Joint Economic Committee aide implored Biden and Congress not to hamper their efforts.

"The unprecedented unemployment benefits enacted in response to the pandemic were necessary at the time but had the unintended consequence of exacerbating the labor shortage and supply chain crisis we're now experiencing," he said.