I’ve been issuing presidential report cards in this space since January, 2010: the conclusion of Barack Obama’s first year in office.
I was hoping not to give President Biden a C Minus this year, because that would’ve marked the third C Minus in a row I’ve given a president, which doesn’t speak well of the current quality of life in the United States.
I gave a C Minus to Biden in his first year, for a series of atrocious decisions, including the shuttering of the Keystone XL project and the reversal of strong border security policy, which resulted in untenable inflation and transnational trespass.
I gave Donald Trump a C Minus in his final year, because his behavior from Election Day to Inauguration Day was so indefensible that it brought down dramatically his spectacular early start to 2020 and underrated performance during the early stages of the pandemic.
Currently, there is a narrative in the mainstream media, the overwhelming majority of them being left-of-center, that Biden is actually quite good. They base it on all of the legislation promulgated on his watch. But it’s not hard to make a deal if you acquiesce so easily to the other side’s demands. After all, I’ve never sold real estate but if I accept any offer on the buyer’s behalf no matter how low, I’d lead the office in closing deals. Nonetheless, Biden does deserve some credit for bringing the recalcitrant party out of power (the Republicans, in this case) to the table, which is not an easy task.
As for the legislation itself, it has some harmful longterm effects, because it goes a long way toward recreating the nanny state Great Society that Lyndon Johnson established and Ronald Reagan substantially dismantled. Two particular bills, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, sound like what we need, but don’t let the names fool you: the former is a somewhat watered-down version of the left’s Green New Deal and the latter gives an expansive new meaning to the word ‘infrastructure’. The other problem, about which I’ve written in this space extensively, is that in order to pay for these gargantuan expenditures without raising taxes or further increasing our barely sustainable debt, Biden simply printed more money. That’s why that other big problem we have, inflation, isn’t going away fast enough.
But to Biden’s credit, if the money is indeed well-spent, these laws will provide desperately needed modernization to our infrastructure. His description of LaGuardia airport as a “third world country” way back offended some, but was indicative of his passion to remedy the problem. Let’s hope it really happens.
Next, just as I believe that Nikita Khrushchev wouldn’t have dared to attempt to park nuclear missiles in Cuba if Dwight Eisenhower rather than John Kennedy had been president, and just as I doubt Saddam Hussein would have invaded Kuwait if Ronald Reagan instead of the elder George Bush had still been at the helm, I think if Trump was still in office Vladimir Putin would not have waged war on Ukraine. Many will disagree and we’ll never know for sure. Nonetheless, I give Biden a great deal of credit for how he’s handled the war thus far. He’s kept our troops out of it but he’s provided Ukraine with much-needed funding, and he’s rehabilitated our strained relationship with our NATO allies. As sore loser voters whose party’s not in power tend to do, some Republicans, mostly MAGAns, insist that we should not fund Ukraine. Reagan is rolling in his grave, because with every fiber of his being, he always did whatever it took to prevent the Russians from gaining even one square inch of land.
However, here’s where Biden loses some of the credit he gains, because if he hadn’t shut down the pipeline, Europe would still be buying its oil from us instead of from Putin, and Putin wouldn’t have had the funds to start a war – not to mention that we wouldn’t need over $100 to fill up the gas tank.
Then, there’s the border crisis that too many Americans have simply accepted as an inevitable way of life. Our borders may not be ‘open’, as some Biden critics overstate, but they’re alarmingly porous. Equally importantly, without a president consistently ranting and raving about illegal entry and stay, prospective PHIs (Persons Here Illegally) don’t have much of a deterrent to resist committing transnational trespass. Even Democrat NYC Mayor Eric Adams is upset.
All that said, being that it’s the start of a new year, I’m going to be an optimist. I’ll give Biden the benefit of the doubt, that his revitalization of our infrastructure really will happen, that the universal laws of supply and demand will cause consumer goods prices to fall, and the ample new jobs Biden promises will be created will be enough to offset a recession.
I’ll also hope that a renewed NATO will continue to stymie Putin and that all this new green energy will be another approach to rendering his vast oil supply less relevant.
Finally, and peculiarly, Biden’s age is actually an asset. At 40, he was mediocre. But now he’s had another 40 years to grow wiser and more experienced. He’s not senile, he’s just old. But much like Reagan and unlike Trump, his inner circle consists of seasoned veterans who’ve been his trusted allies for decades. That makes a big difference.
For these reasons, President Biden – in his Mr. Magoo-like fashion – earns a C for 2022. He’s still close to being the worst president of my lifetime, but his second year has been a slight improvement over the first. Let’s hope he continues to get better.