“I guess I shouldn’t apologize, but I do apologize for the fact that the United States — the last administration — pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball,” said Biden, testing the colloquial flair of summit translators with his saloon bar American English.
Biden’s contrition will no doubt cause Trump’s conservative media devotees to pull out the old “Apology Tour” headlines they used whenever President Barack Obama went abroad. And Biden himself noted the incongruity of calling for cuts in carbon emissions while pressuring oil producing nations to pump faster to bring down politically damaging high US gasoline prices.
The ex-President is hanging over Biden’s Europe trip like a dark cloud. Foreign leaders are wondering just how long the break from Trumpism will last and whether the nation that once stabilized the world will pitch it into a new paroxysm of populist nationalism if Trump is reelected in 2024.
In the meantime, Biden is chipping away at Trump’s legacy with his climate pitch and by reaching a deal to end his predecessor’s steel tariffs on Europe. But his ebbing opinion polls are plain to see, Democrats face big losses in next year’s midterm elections and Trump is already positioned to be a shoo-in for the next Republican presidential nomination.
As a senior, unnamed member of Biden’s own team, quoted by the Washington Post, noted at the weekend that America’s allies in Europe know that a like-minded President is far from a given after the next presidential election. “I think our allies believe that we have to lock in progress as much as possible while there is a president who is a deeply committed trans-Atlanticist in office,” the official said.