Saturday, August 13

The worst moment for President Biden


Correspondent in New York

Updated:

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The best portrait of the moment you live Joe Biden It was offered by the US president himself last Thursday. He appeared at the White House hours after the terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport, that had left almost 200 victims. Thirteen of them, American soldiers. At one point during the journalists’ questions, Biden, who seemed overwhelmed by events, hung his head from his lectern. Photographers shot bursts to capture the moment. The president’s head has never been seen so lowered, in the image that best explains Biden’s political moment.

Exiting Afghanistan is a very popular decision -all presidents since George W. Bush had promised the return of

the troops – which Biden decided to carry to the end even though he knew it was a minefield. In April, when the president announced that he would go ahead with the agreement that his predecessor, Donald Trump, signed with the Taliban to withdraw the Army – with a delay of several months – the news was well received. The execution of the withdrawal, with a chaotic evacuation capped – for the moment – with the loss of American lives, has become Biden’s worst nightmare.

The reflection is in the polls. His discharge approval has plummeted this summer. At the end of May, according to the accumulated of FiveThirtyEight polls, Biden had a cushion of almost 15 points between those who welcomed his management (54.7%) and those who disapproved (40.2%). At the end of last month, that distance was still ten points. Things were going well for the president, which was conveyed with high optimism among the public: in a poll by NPR and PBS, also in July, 47% of Americans said that the country was going in the right direction. It was the highest number since 2009, after the election of Barack Obama.

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Everything has gone wrong in recent weeks, with the chaos of Afghanistan’s departure. Biden’s approval is at 47.2%, the lowest point of his presidency. The number of Americans who fail Biden (46.9%) is about to be higher than those who approve. In the coming weeks, it’s likely only to get worse: Those polls still don’t include the impact of the bombing and the dead soldiers. There is also a lot of tension and the possibility of more violence in the three days remaining until the end of the evacuation mission, which is due to conclude on Tuesday, August 31. Then there will be a lengthy process of managing and hosting tens of thousands of Afghans on US soil, with the potential to become a constant headache for Biden.

But Afghanistan is not the only reason for the bad timing of Biden. His main electoral card was to offer effective management of the pandemic. The expectations of a speedy exit from the crisis with the vaccine have not been met: Biden has not been able to reach his own vaccination goals and the impact of the Delta variant has caused a new wave of infections at the same levels as the last winter and with saturated ICUs in some states.

The president sought to arrive this fall with the pandemic under control and with the victory of a clean exit from Afghanistan. Quite the contrary: the summer will end in crisis, between requests for resignation, disenchantment from his voters and with the threat of a legislative election next year in which the Democrats risk their majorities in Congress and he the ability to execute his schedule.

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