The President must recognize that credibility is the lifeblood of effective governance.
Last Friday, ABC News anchor David Muir peered behind the curtain to uncover a President Joe Biden who appeared divorced from the political reality churning around him and his White House.
There was a commander-in-chief who couldn’t recall speaking with the mayor of a small Ohio town in the midst of one of the worst chemical catastrophes in recent memory. This devastating train derailment had dominated the news for three weeks.
Muir just inquired of the president whether he had spoken with the mayor of East Palestine. “I can’t recall that,” Biden replied. “I don’t believe I’ve spoken with the mayor. I spoke with everyone else there several times. I spoke with both senators and governors. And I’ve talked to everyone I could find. And we’ve stated unequivocally that everything is available.”
That was the best this president could muster for his fellow Americans, terrified and scared about losing everything they had worked for.
He sounded more like a federal bureaucrat than a politician who has spent his career selling himself as “Lunch Bucket Joe,” relating to the worries of the “little guy.” Yet, here he was, with sick people in East Palestine, where the soil and waterways had become contaminated with hazardous chemicals.
But this president lacked humanity. There is no sense of urgency. And a surprisingly low level of compassion for a man who has experienced a personal tragedy.
He looked strangely detached from reality, his mind and heart still in Ukraine when he should have been on his way to Ohio. Sending his inept Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, in his place just adds to the increasing image that this White House only moves at one speed: slow motion.
It was an incomprehensible moment that, I imagine, made many viewers ponder how disconnected this president truly is from the people he was elected to govern.
When Muir brought up Biden’s poor poll ratings, which have scarcely moved despite Biden’s boasts of great economic success and historic legislative “victories,” Biden responded oddly. According to Muir, a recent ABC News poll indicated that 41 percent of individuals thought they were worse off since Biden assumed office, while only 16 percent thought they were better off.
Ignoring his personal responsibility for a disgruntled electorate, the president said to Muir, “I think it goes well beyond the economy.” Is there anything you can think of, switch on the television, and say, ‘God, that makes me feel good’? “Everything is a negative.”
“I don’t blame people for being down, you know when you had the year, two years of the pandemic, kids out of school, the country’s mental health problems… seriously increased, especially among young people,” Biden continued. “Inflation remains higher than it should be, and you know, everything from gasoline prices to the war in Ukraine.” So I can’t think of a time when there has been more uncertainty.”
At this point in the interview, one had to question what kind of bubble Joe Biden operates in.
If there is uncertainty in the country, it is his fault and the result of his policies, which have not resulted in the prosperity, progress, or unity he promised. If inflation is too high, perhaps he might consider the idea that his economic policies, energy policies, and complete concentration on climate are not only not working but are making conditions worse for the average American family.
People are down, as Biden correctly states. They are critical of him and the country’s course. In Tuesday’s RealClearPolitics correct track/wrong track average, 27% of voters said the government was on the right track, while 64% thought it was on the wrong track. In reality, the average wrong track for each month during the last 18 months was 61 percent – or higher.
By any reasonable definition, that is not development.
Biden and his supporters blame the media, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Republicans, and former President Donald Trump – not necessarily in that order. Not the unprecedented inflation that is still making life difficult for the majority of Americans, nor his devotion to overregulation that has exacerbated it.
Not his catastrophic energy policies, which have driven up the cost of nearly everything. Not his disastrous Afghanistan exit, nor his supply chain disaster, nor his open border policy.
Not his management of the COVID-19 outbreak, inflationary expenditure packages, airline disruptions, erratic financial markets, or confidential papers. Just in February, Americans witnessed the White House mishandle not only the East Palestine derailment, but also the costly Chinese balloon fiasco, complete with three shot-down balloons that remain unaccounted for.
It’s no surprise that the American people are dissatisfied with the state of the Union. For the past two years, it has been one wrong decision after another from this White House, a roller coaster of disasters that has lost this president, his staff, and his Cabinet much of the public’s trust.
Credibility is the lifeblood of effective governance. It enables leaders to communicate with an electorate that is open to listening. Regaining voter trust, once lost, is usually a gradual process that relies on transparency and, in the case of this president, a willingness to reassess policies and the individuals who administer them.
Biden, like past presidents who have found themselves in a rut, must reestablish his reputation with the people. Stop blaming others and accepting responsibility for his mistakes would be a wonderful first step. It will also take a genuine effort to collaborate with Republicans to restore economic stability and the unity he promised.
It also implies that Biden must shed his progressive cocoon, evaluate his team’s capabilities, and admit that his programs have failed to connect with the American people. If anyone needed confirmation, the Muir interview revealed a president in desperate need of a reality check.