Commentary

Don’t be too quick to say no to Uncle Joe | Dick Polman

The president’s been on a winning streak of late — never mind what his poll numbers say

August 15, 2022 6:30 am

President Joe Biden addresses a gathering of county commissioners in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, 2/15/22 (Screen Capture)

I fail to understand why so many people have long made such a big deal about Joe Biden’s lousy poll numbers.

Don’t they know their history? Haven’t they bothered to research recent presidents’ first-term performance ratings? It just so happens, for instance, that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama took deep plunges during their first terms, that Ronald Reagan’s favorability share plummeted to 35 percent during his first term, and that even though Abe Lincoln didn’t have to worry about Gallup, it’s an historical fact that the “baboon” (as he was so relentlessly labeled) was widely perceived as a first-term screwup until the Union army won some key battles late in 1864.

So, a little perspective on Biden seems wise – especially now that he’s racking up enough wins to demonstrate, against some heavy odds, that he indeed does deliver in the realm of policy, that democracy can actually still function for the betterment of the nation. As Democrats prepare for the autumn midterm elections, with their thin House and Senate majorities hanging by a thread, Biden’s late-summer success surge certainly won’t hurt their prospects. They may even help.

If the blue party can get its act together with some effective repetitive messaging (no guarantees on that), it can hike the odds of beating the red cult in November. Believe it or not – and all the carping has obscured the truth – Biden is poised to post one of the most productive legislative records in roughly half a century, and he’s doing it with congressional majorities thinner than dental floss.

For instance:

– The Inflation Reduction Act, which will land on Biden’s desk after the House passes it soon, boasts by far the biggest investment ever to fight climate change. Policy analyst Michael Tomasky points out that the imminent law “establishes the principle that the government has a role to play in setting industrial policy and creating growth, and in determining what kind of growth we want.” The bill also extends Obamacare subsidies for three years, authorizes Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors, imposes billions in taxes on big corporations, and much more.

– The new CHIPS and Science Act will boost the domestic manufacture of semiconductor chips, creating jobs and helping us compete with China.

– The new PACT Act, which finally passed last week after Senate Republicans finished their obstructive hissy fit, will make it far easier for our servicemen and women to get health coverage for illnesses suffered after being exposed to the military’s toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

– The jobless rate is 3.5 percent, a 50-year low. Plus, there’s a hiring surge.

– Gasoline prices have fallen steadily for the last 50 days in a row.

– Biden’s intelligence operatives located and killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the co-mastermind of 9/11.

– Biden recently signed the most extensive gun reform law in three decades.

– Pushing back on Putin’s war in Ukraine, Biden has led the expansion and strengthening of NATO.

– Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which earmarks billions for roads and bridges over the next 10 to 12 years.

– Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, which put money into the pockets of tens of millions of workers who were financially hurt by the Covid pandemic. Among its many other provisions, it also earmarked money to save union pension plans that were on the verge of going under.

All told, John Harris of Politico has a good line: “Biden is looking a little like the student who is failing his class for most of the semester, then pulls an all-nighter and slips the paper under the professor’s door at 6 a.m. It turns out the paper is actually pretty good… A solid B is within reach.”

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The problem with the 24/7 media, especially its twittery component, is that we always risk being trapped in the exigencies of the instant moment. Alas, a democracy doesn’t move nearly fast enough to satisfy those who pine for quick gratification. It takes time to craft the big picture.

Biden and his blue legislative allies – despite predictable missteps, despite settling for less than their ambitions visioned – still believe in something important. It’s called governing. It’s the wild and crazy notion that, if you’re elected to public office, you should try to do something substantive for the people you represent. Whereas the opposition cult is bent on doing nothing – aside from thumbing demagogic tweets to the nutcase base, and cheering on a Hitler-lite lunatic who’s on the cusp of indictment.

That contrast should be enough for Democrats to campaign on.

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Dick Polman
Dick Polman

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star's Commentary Page. Readers may email him at [email protected]

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