This week’s White House Report Card finds President Joe Biden bouncing off his polling low but being hit hard by the failure to push his Build Back Better $2 trillion spend-and-tax scheme across the finish line.
Democratic pollster John Zogby noted Biden’s approval improvement and said that while he “cannot quite call this a Renaissance yet … he is at least winning back some of his base.”
Conservative grader Jed Babbin stuck with his string of “Ds” and reminded that Biden said any president who presided over a government that saw as many COVID=19 deaths as former President Donald Trump should quit. His death toll has passed Trump’s.
As things go, this was not a bad week for Biden. A federal court upheld his private-employer mandate policy, and the public got to see the president more. He made significant steps toward getting out front on both the issue of COVID-19 vaccines and inflation.
By addressing the inflation issue, he signaled to the people that their president is not isolated from their concerns. In this, he was aided by the Federal Reserve as it announced that it will "probably" be raising interest rates in 2022 to tackle the money supply issue without drastically cooling down the hot economy. Whether any of it works remains to be seen — but at least the top issue in the country is being recognized and on the agenda.
Biden also enabled the public to talk about how his Build Back Better legislation directly and positively affects real people and families. In this, he was consciously attempting to cut through the noise in Washington and let the rest of the country hear from the rest of the country.
The COVID-19 crisis has worsened with dramatic increases in new cases and deaths, but polling this week shows that 54% of the public now approves of the president's handling of the health crisis. Not the 60s percentages he once had, but also not the 40s of recent weeks.
What’s more, his average approval rating rose to 45%, a climb of 3 to 4 percentage points over last week. Cannot quite call this a renaissance yet, but he is at least winning back some of his base.
This was a “meh” week for the administration, filled with odds and ends such as Biden’s claim that the Afghanistan withdrawal wasn’t a debacle, a Congressional Budget Office score on his Build Back Better baloney that blew it up, and the president’s plea that he really, really is running again in 2024 while Democrats are leaking calculations on how others might replace him.
As Biden continues to flounder in the polls, Democrats were reportedly looking at possible replacements in 2024. The most fun rumor of the week was that Hillary Clinton (remember her?) was planning to run in ’24. We of the political scribbling class haven’t lived good enough lives to have that blessing given to us. Shakespeare wrote, "Tis devoutly to be wish’d," or something like that.
Wholesale prices jumped almost 10% in November, marking another milestone (millstone?) in #Bidenflation. Meanwhile, Philip Swagel, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, sent a letter to a few Republican senators that confirms what we knew all along. Biden continues to insist that his plan doesn’t cost anything. As Swagel’s letter shows, the real cost is at least $4 trillion because the BBB baloney is predicated on budget gimmickry that pretends one-year payouts in social spending won’t be renewed or made permanent. BBB is really SSS: social spending scam.
In a softball interview on CBS, Biden insisted that the casualties we took (13 dead and hundreds of Afghan wounded in the bombing attack outside Kabul International Airport in August) were inevitable. He said, “Everybody says, ‘You could’ve gotten out without anybody being hurt.’ No one’s come up with a way to ever indicate to me how that happens.” He wasn’t even questioned about the hundreds of Americans left behind. Jen Psaki, Biden’s version of Baghdad Bob, defended leaving hundreds of U.S. citizens (and possibly tens of thousands of Afghan interpreters who helped U.S. troops) behind to be slain by the Taliban and other terrorists. All she can do is whine that Biden is being treated worse than Trump by the media. Her skill level is such that she manages to do that with a straight face.
A Pentagon report concluded that no one should be held accountable for the drone strike that killed 10 innocent Afghan civilians. Was that because Biden approved the strike himself? In all likelihood, it was.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll exceeded the total that occurred under Trump. Didn’t Biden say that anyone who presided over that many deaths shouldn’t be president?
John Zogby is the founder of the Zogby Poll and senior partner at John Zogby Strategies. His weekly podcast with son and partner Jeremy Zogby can be heard here. Follow him on Twitter @ZogbyStrategies
Jed Babbin is a Washington Examiner contributor and former deputy undersecretary of defense in the administration of former President George H.W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter @jedbabbin