Joe Biden was embracing August: relieved beach day In his beloved Delaware, he rides bikes and moonlit strolls on the sand with the First Lady; and a a trip West to the Grand Canyon to personally sign the order for a new national monument, summer casual with baseball cap, shades, and no tie. He even gave interview to The Weather Channel about all the crazy summer weather and climate change—”the an existential threat to humanity,” he described it — though he refused to explicitly declare a national emergency. (Fox News coverage—no parody — it was headlined “Biden Avoids Hunter Biden Scandal in Weather Channel Interview.””)
However, the holiday vibe came with an urgent political mission: to revive poll numbers before it’s too late. With the 2024 campaign starting in earnest, Biden has it Lowest average approval ratings than any president since Jimmy Carter: 40.3% agree, 54.8% agree. Even Donald Trump, as hard as it is to believe, was Slightly higher ratings at this point in his term. Other indicators—both economic and political—have been looking better for the president in recent months: falling unemployment, easing inflation, and a better-than-expected performance in out-of-year elections, such as this week’s abortion-rights campaign victory in a red-colored referendum in Ohio. Economists and businesses have begun planning for a recession. Now they are talking about a “soft landing”. Previous presidents who have sought re-election under such circumstances—Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama think—have tended to do well in recent decades.
Since the beginning of June, the White House has counted on Biden’s economic record as the key to reviving his political stature. in Speech after speechOn Wednesday, at letter In New Mexico, Biden stood against a backdrop of “binomics” and waxed poetic about semiconductors and wind turbine blades. (“And, by the way, they don’t cause cancer,” he added, referring to Trump’s baffled but oft-repeated view of the dangers of wind farms.) Biden boasted about 800,000 new manufacturing jobs across the country and sneered at Republican members of Congress, such as the outspoken Trumpian Rep. Colorado’s Lauren Boebert—”a very quiet Republican lady”—who voted against his bills and then happily touted the money that came to her states as a result. In short, he said, “Our plan is working. It’s working.”
As far as I can tell, the point of the Biden campaign is to repeat that mantra endlessly. And I get it: the argument is that in our polarized and almost evenly divided society, presidents are fundamentally doomed to unpopularity, no matter their actual record. Hacking and changing minds in such a situation is almost impossible. “In the modern presidency, we all know the level of awareness of achievement is very low, so what Biden is going through is not new or different from any other modern president,” one Democratic pollster told me. “The difference is that everything he’s done is incredibly popular — like, ridiculously popular.” Democrats hope they can, at the very least, point to their supporters who Biden has, in fact, introduced. “By the end of the campaign, after spending a billion dollars,” the pollster continued, “people will feel differently about the current situation. They will feel differently about what Biden has done for them, because, quite frankly, they will learn what Biden has done for them.”
However, history suggests that time is short to prove a case. For starters, the economy itself may not cooperate. On Thursday, in fact, consumer price index figures for July were released, showing a slight uptick to 3.2 percent annual inflation, the first such increase in a year. country mood after-Corona virus disease, is still prohibitive, and the prices of many everyday goods and services are still higher than they were before the epidemic. “A president can’t make voters think the economy is great if they can’t feel it themselves,” Amy Walter, editor of the nonpartisan political magazine Cook, told me.
This is where Biden’s flashy summer tour comes in. It appears that Biden is not selling the details of this or that infrastructure investment so much as making the case that he is already governing as Republicans scramble down the road to Donald Trump. Politics is about contrast, about choice. Was Biden too shrewd about it? His speeches are, after all, wonky hymns to the unspoken work of the technocrats that Democrats like Biden love to celebrate. Then again, Trump provides an enormous amount of contrast. “Chaos vs. stability,” Walter explained to me, was a win for Biden in the 2020 election; Bednomics vs. Trump’s “Endless Summer of Indictments” is the 2023 update.
Trump is certainly playing his part. Since Special Counsel Jack Smith announced criminal charges against him for seeking to overturn the 2020 election, the former president, now indicted three times, with a fourth expected any day in Georgia, has entered a particularly aggressive new phase of his re-election campaign. office. That campaign was designed, as always with Trump, to shock, with wildly over-the-top social media posts, frantic fund-raising emails, and a few personal appearances peppered with epithets and inflammatory sentiments to further his message: I may be a fraud, but I am a fraud to you. Vote for me and we will take revenge on them all. Chaos is his trademark. He tends to.
In New Hampshire this week, the 45th President of the United States played a role when an audience member referred to Chris Christie, his friend-turned-Republican rival, as a “fat pig,” as he sweated profusely in an unair-conditioned auditorium and led the crowd in cheers of “ prattle!” When discussing the latest charges against him. Since the indictment was filed, Trump has attacked Smith, the judge in the case, and several potential witnesses, including former Vice President Mike Pence. “If you go after me, I will come after you,” he threatened on his Truth Social platform. Prosecutors immediately cited this threat in the motion to file a protective order against Trump; The matter will be heard in Washington, D.C., Judge Tanya Chutkan’s courtroom at a hearing Friday morning.
Trump’s tantrums after his latest indictment seemed so high-functioning that they counted. The former boss has the playbook, which is: go attack, attack, attack, attack. On Thursday, it is warned Biden: “He’s a mental disaster that’s driving our country to hell!” Projection has always been one of Trump’s moves. However, I am aware of the observation made to me by Christie, who has been a close watcher of Trump for years, saying that journalists have always misjudged Trump by spelling it out as if there was some grand “Machiavellian” plan that could explain his seemingly inexplicable behavior. On the contrary. “There is no strategy,” Christie said.
Jeb Bush, one of Trump’s failed rivals in 2016, came to what remains to me the most always true assessment: Trump was a messy candidate and will go on to be a messy president. For 2024, that means the race is not between Bidennomics and Trumponomics. It’s a contest about Biden’s wind farms versus a man who believes, among other wild conspiracy theories, that wind farms cause cancer — between a president who loves to talk about infrastructure, and a former president who only talks about himself and his grievances. In the end, the difference between Biden and Trump is not a flippant argument about politics but an existential one about America. ♦