I began issuing annual report cards to presidents in January 2010, which marked the end of Barack Obama’s first full year in office, and the 14-month anniversary of this column. I’ve issued report cards ever since, with grades ranging from A Minus to C Minus. No president in my book has yet deserved a grade as high as A or as low as D. And that streak continues with President Biden. Nonetheless, this, my thirteenth grade report overall, is an ‘unlucky 13’ for the first-year chief executive.
Generally, it’s difficult to give any president who governs over relatively stable peace and prosperity lower than a C-range grade. It’s also difficult to issue a B-range grade or higher to someone presiding over the highest inflation rate in 40 years.
First, let’s start with the good news – there’s not much of it, so we might as well put it out there first to brace ourselves for all the misery: we’re not at war, and our economy’s doing reasonably well. Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi (I’d say North Korea’s Kim too, but who really cares?) are thumping their chests again, but barks don’t necessarily translate to bites. Biden also pulled off the Band-aid regarding Afghanistan. It was awkward, ugly, and embarrassing, but the bottom line is we’re outta there. Like the Afghanistan pullout, the infrastructure bill that passed was largely President Trump’s doing. Nonetheless, Biden deserves credit for steering it into law.
The biggest impediment to the economy, and to life itself, over the past two years has been the virus and humankind’s histrionic response to it. Perhaps it’s fitting to mention it immediately after Afghanistan, because whereas 20 years after we entered there, most look back on it and in retrospect think we should’ve done things differently. Maybe we’ll say the same about the pandemic too someday. In any case, I don’t blame Biden entirely for the lockdowns, just for his role in perpetuating the panic. Despite all the hullabaloo, we’re almost back to normal, with Blue State Sheeple happily comingling with their compadres, all masked and vaxxed to the max, and Red State Renegades proudly grazing at local watering holes with nary a mask or vaccine passport in sight. The bottom line is, to each his own, and each seems to be having a good time again. Thank goodness!
Now, for the bad news: the biggest threat to domestic affairs is inflation. Worse than unemployment, and worse than a recession. Inflation gives businesses a golden opportunity to fulfill their fantasies of raising prices, while the public’s in a trance about inflation’s inevitability and merely shrugs its shoulders and accepts it.
When restaurateurs raise prices because their supply costs are higher, it seems fair. But what about when the costs aren’t nearly as high as the price hikes? It’s their way of raking in more profits from an unassuming public that figures if they’re paying 40% more at the gas pump, why should they expect anything different at the bar?
Moreover, unemployment principally affects the unemployed, whereas inflation affects everyone, including the unemployed.
It’s no wonder that when the United States was afflicted by inflation in the 1970s, presidents correctly deemed it the top domestic problem. Part of the reason inflation has returned was the insane – yes, insane – amount of money the government threw at the virus. The PPP money it doled out was an outrage: applicants didn’t need to show any real harm, just a sincere belief of possible future harm. Unemployment benefits were higher than what working stiffs earned while enduring rush-hour commutes and indentured servant-like daily grinds. Why on earth would they go back to working for a living?
I squarely blame Trump for part of this, but Biden made it worse. Also, Biden exacerbated matters by shutting down the highly lucrative Keystone Pipeline XL project. It’s basic economics: the scarcer a valuable resource – such as oil, which is used to heat homes and fuel vehicles – the more it costs to buy. Who better to understand that, a lifelong businessman, or a career denizen of Washington Wonderama? But, I digress…
It might take an entire TNH Special Insert to outline all of Biden’s mistakes thus far, so in the interest of maintaining this column’s typical size, I’ll quickly highlight three other main issues.
First, there’s the border crisis. Even to this day, much of the world would cut off its right arm to come here. So, when they find out the new sheriff in town is about as intimidating as a mousy substitute teacher, they’ll commit transnational trespass in droves. And for you virus-phobes, keep in mind that they’re unmasked, unvaxxed, and untested.
Next, speaking of masks and vaxxes, Biden provides horrible leadership by example. He walks into a room teeming with reporters, removes his mask, speaks for half an hour, and then puts his mask back on to take questions. Come on, how ridiculous is that? As for vaccine mandates, it’s clear Biden hasn’t thought anything through; he’s just going through the knee-jerk motions.
Finally, there’s wokeness – which is far more lethal and prevalent than the virus. For those who’ve yet to recognize it, wokeness is political correctness run amok. Numerous prominent liberals have shunned it, yet Biden remains mum.
I consider this year’s grade of C Minus to Biden to be a gift; much like a student who really ought to fail but the instructor feels sorry and gives him/her a pass. I root for every president, including this one. I really hope Biden gives me reason to raise his grade next year. But if he’s this bad, or worse, I won’t have any qualms about lowering it.