Biden’s slide began in Afghanistan, and it will take Democrats down too
We’re six months from the midterm elections. It’s almost inevitable Republicans will take back the House, and the Senate looks better by the day. Republicans have a steady lead in the generic ballot. President Joe Biden’s poll numbers are mired at historic lows.
It’s felt like this for so long it’s become hard to remember a time when Democrats weren’t fighting for their political lives.
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PORTSMOUTH, NH – APRIL 19: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure law on April 19, 2022 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
But it really wasn’t so long ago most Americans gave Biden the benefit of the doubt.
He came into office with a head of steam and approval ratings hovering in the 60s – a significant achievement in our polarized age. The generic congressional ballot had Democrats consistently ahead. It stayed that way throughout the spring and into the summer until one event sunk his political fortunes and left Democrats scrambling to survive November.
That monumental debacle was our exit from Afghanistan. If you want to pinpoint the exact event where the 46th president’s slide began, this was it.
Hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, Aug. 17, 2021
Let’s go back to last August. We chaotically left the country, stranded our citizens living there, and put our military at risk. This was preceded by strategic failures such as abandoning Bagram Air Force Base, underestimating the Taliban’s strength, and failing to adequately plan an evacuation.
But that’s not how Biden saw it. Under criticism from all corners, he defiantly said the pullout was an “extraordinary success.”
When he couldn’t deny reality any longer, he lashed out. Claiming the chaos was “inevitable,” he put blame at the feet of everyone from the Afghan people, to former President Donald Trump, to Americans citizens living there, and even his own military advisors.
It doesn’t take a genius to see how Biden’s numbers shifted after the disastrous Afghanistan exit.
President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken look on as as a carry team moves a transfer case with the remain of Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind., during a casualty return at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, for the 13 service members killed in the suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
His robust approval ratings sank fast, from the low 60s to the low 40s, and haven’t recovered since.
Here’s what someone who took part in one of those polls said about Biden back in August 2021: “He is not even taking any responsibility. He says he owns it, but he’s blaming other people…”
The Afghanistan debacle was the debut of what would become the signature Biden two-step:
Refuse to acknowledge a problem. If forced to acknowledge it, blame someone else.
We now know this tactic all too well.
Historic inflation? Blame Putin.
COVID surge? Blame Republicans.
Crime spike? Blame COVID.
The “competent adult” persona Biden’s team sold us was always a fraud. It relied on the fact that Biden’s campaign didn’t need to do much else besides extremely controlled events in a COVID-dominated election year.
So where do we go from here?
If you’re expecting some course correction before the midterms, don’t hold your breath. If anything, watch for Biden to go further left: forgiving student loans, regulating domestic energy production, restricting the 2nd Amendment.
I’m not saying this as some wishful Republican fan fiction. Biden has made a clear calculation. This is a feature, not a bug.
The White House may be incompetent in many, many areas, but its officials still know how to read a poll. They’re willing to live with the consequences of a disastrous 2022 to keep the base happy heading into 2024 and beyond.
“Build Back Better” is dead. Democrats know it — at least the intellectually honest ones do — but they can’t admit it. Going in they had no strategy and now coming out they have no law.
Inflation still mystifies the left. They can’t seem to understand the connection between “free” money and devalued currency. Even more incoherent are their answers when asked about it.
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The only thing the White House seems to be able to control is which hagiographical column Ron Klain tweets out or which political third rail it puts Kamala Harris in charge of this week.
It’s looking more and more that the Biden presidency can be divided neatly into pre-Afghanistan and post-Afghanistan. It was the moment he lost the rationale of his presidency and polling showed the public’s view of him shifted from competent leader to whiny victim.
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In the post-Afghanistan political world, look for Biden to throw caution to the wind and coalesce the far-left base in an attempt to save face and begin the long slog to 2024. It’s all he has left.
To borrow a phrase from Bob Dylan, “when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing left to lose.”
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