News Update

Opinion: Biden is losing ground because he's not answering the tough questions

Biden is stuck right now with two political problems: trying to appease disparate factions of his party as he attempts to pass his agenda and his own flagging poll numbers.
Scott JenningsScott Jennings
I found it odd that he was sort of negotiating his budget reconciliation package on live TV. Did he say anything about any aspect of it that would have convinced Senators Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema to change their opinion and vote in favor of the bill? I certainly didn’t hear it if he did. He was put in the bizarre position of articulating the positions of people who are opposed to fairly major parts of his plan.
If the point of this was to create a groundswell of support so overwhelming that senators from West Virginia and Arizona must succumb to it, that didn’t happen.
More likely, his advisers thought this event would prop up his fading poll numbers. Simply put, they are brutal. Biden’s aggregate job approval according to CNN’s Poll of Polls is 50% disapprove versus 44% who approve. And inside the polls, he is experiencing major dips on a range of issues and personal characteristics, including whether people find him honest, mentally sharp and running an administration that is competent.
Did he solve any of those problems Thursday night? No. He rambled a lot. He did that weird lean and whisper thing a few times. He meandered and gave inefficient, long-winded answers to most of the audience questions (some of which were pointed and deserved more direct answers).
Biden was relaxed, funny, in command. But that won't be enoughBiden was relaxed, funny, in command. But that won't be enough
He did display basic human compassion for the late Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State who passed away this week, something Donald Trump could not muster earlier this week. That moment was a bit of a reminder of how Biden won in the first place.
But did any viewer — other than the most partisan Democrat — walk away from that town hall tonight thinking: “Man alive! this guy is on top of his game!”
To borrow a phrase: “Come on, man!”
A couple of things I found interesting:
Biden’s admission that he used poor judgment in stating that the Justice Department should prosecute people who refuse congressional subpoenas in relation to the January 6 committee was…something. He clearly stated that he won’t pick up the phone and call the DOJ to tell them who to prosecute.
Of course, they don’t need that. He can just say out loud what he wants and the leadership of the DOJ will see it, even if Biden walks it back later. They know Biden would like to see this group of people prosecuted. Biden didn’t need a phone call to make those views known.
But Biden did something similar last month when he publicly stated that the border patrol agents on horseback who were falsely accused by some Democrats of whipping Haitian migrants would “pay,” despite them being federal employees under investigation and entitled to the due process any federal employee would get when accused of official malfeasance. This shows that when the President says something out loud, you can’t put it back in the bottle. Can those border agents get a fair shake from their superiors now? Of course, they can’t. Biden once said “the words of a president matter,” and he surely knows better.

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