Biden’s 3 Most Politically Incompetent Mistakes as President

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty

For those of us who see Donald Trump as a cross between a tyrant and a clown, the notion that Joe Biden isn’t mopping the floor with him continues to feel insane. We are left scratching our heads and wondering why Biden isn’t a) winning big, or b) getting credit for his accomplishments.

What did he do that rendered him almost as unpopular as Trump?

Answers to these questions tend to break down into two categories, including problems that were outside of Biden’s control, and the disasters he invited into his presidency. I want to focus on the latter group because I believe that Biden would be on his way to re-election had he simply not fallen prey to avoidable mistakes.

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These do not include things Biden has no control over—such as his advanced age. It’s entirely possible that Biden will lose because he’s perceived as too old to be an effective leader. If that happens, there is little Biden could have done about it (other than step aside, that is).

Other problems arose on his watch, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Hamas’ attack on Israel. The war in Gaza may cost him the election, as progressives and younger left-leaning voters express their anger over his steadfast support of Israel. Perhaps he could have handled these international crises differently and been perceived as more successful. Still, it’s hard to argue (although some people do) that Biden is the cause of these conflicts.

This brings us to the focus of this column: the three big disasters he might have avoided. Those would be inflation, the border crisis, and the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal. Biden’s fingerprints are all over those. They’re his to own.

Let’s start with Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus/COVID-relief bill that worsened inflation. Even more frustrating was Team Biden’s insistence that inflation wasn’t a big problem and that it was “temporary” or “transitory.”

Having overlearned the lessons of the Obama era, Biden and his staff were convinced the bigger danger was to spend too little. Biden’s mistake here seems to be the penchant to fight the last war, coupled with the sense that progressives were touting inflation as an antiquated problem.

I warned about this very thing in May 2021: “…Joe Biden, who hoped his big spending would make him the modern day FDR or LBJ, could instead become Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford. Voters might find themselves wistfully recalling the halcyon days before COVID-19 wrecked ‘the greatest economy that we’ve had in our history.’ If you’re looking for a nightmare scenario where Donald Trump is miraculously (re)elected in 2024, this could be it.”

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Inflation is currently the number one issue of importance to voters, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Biden’s next problem was also invited by a decision he made early on (indeed, on his first day): the border crisis. (In that same Gallup poll, immigration ranked number one among voter concerns when respondents were asked the question unprompted.)

Even before he was sworn in, Biden rhetorically enticed desperate migrants to try to cross our border illegally. And on his very first day as president, in what may prove to be a fateful mistake, he rolled back some of Trump’s border policies. As The New York Times noted in a story about migrant children who crossed the border, “Their parents were encouraged to send for them by President Biden’s more welcoming approach to immigration.”

As was the case with inflation, Biden also spent considerable time denying the border problem, including refusing to refer to it as a “crisis.”

The final straw was Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, where—regardless of the specifics of his and his predecessor’s policies—he also botched the optics and expectations. This was a disaster of Biden’s own choosing.

Yes, Biden did inherit a withdrawal date from Donald Trump, which he then pushed back. He should have learned from President Barack Obama’s error in Iraq, and maintained a residual force. Instead, the U.S. left Afghanistan in chaos and with the impression that the greatest military force the world has ever known was chased out of the country by the Taliban.

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He first insisted that a Taliban takeover was anything but inevitable—a claim that was almost immediately proved wrong. Later, Biden and his team launched a messaging counterattack, insisting the chaos was inevitable. Rather than accepting blame or firing his incompetent team, he chose to blame “Afghanistan political leaders (who) gave up and fled the country.”

This was the turning point for Biden, and his approval ratings plunged accordingly. He has never recovered from that tragic mistake, no matter how many policy accomplishments he’s racked up or how (inflation aside) most economic markers are trending positively.

It’s worth noting that all three of these (avoidable) problems occurred early on in Biden’s presidency, and he either chose them or exacerbated them.

If Trump ends up winning this November, Biden will have planted the seeds of that victory with these three big, avoidable, stupid mistakes.

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