It’s been a pandemic, inflation, hot mic, and progress filled year—let’s review. In June, I gave Biden a 51/70 for his work as President so far: the categories now are different, but we can still get a sense of whether Biden has improved as he passes the one-year point.
Covid-19: 3/5. On paper, Biden has struggled with Covid. Case and death numbers are higher than they have ever been before. There’s also a nationwide shortage of tests, making case numbers inaccurate. The long and short—COVID IS EVERYWHERE! But let’s remember how fast he rolled out vaccinations and how much better this is than the last guy: finally, there are scientists influencing decisions.
Economy: 3/5. Again, it’s bittersweet for the President. Higher employment rates and inflation do technically go hand in hand, but that won’t stop us from getting angry! Inflation has wildly exceeded expectations, which has been only slightly outweighed by the record-breaking job growth of the past year. What’s making this a ‘3’ instead of a ‘4’, though, is how disproportionately this has affected low-income Americans.
Infrastructure: 4/5. For anyone who follows politics, infrastructure has become one of those words where you say it so much it loses all meaning. Is it emotional, physical, financial, cyber? To be frank, does anyone think Biden fully understands what he’s talking about? At the end of the day, though, what’s been proposed is genuinely “building back better”, and has raised employment and average income. So, if inflation gets itself back in check, this could be a real strong point.
Climate Change: 5/5. Biden is continuing to knock over pins in his fight against climate change. The US is back in the Paris Agreement and worked hard at COP (despite a brief nap break—more on that later) and is continuing to move ahead, despite a sharp increase in winter storms, bushfires, hurricanes, and all that climate change jazz.
Electoral Reform: 3/5. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act wasn’t passed, meaning incredibly harsh restrictions stand in many swing states. Biden has hinted at the illegitimacy of these new laws, but it feels like the dying Democratic cause could use the boost of some executive action (or maybe not: 2022 is going red anyways).
Immigration: 2/5. We need to distinguish between what is and is not Biden’s fault. Immigrants being whipped at the border: not Biden’s fault. Overextending yourself and then having an onslaught of people at the border: Biden’s fault. Biden has been required to keep overcrowded camps open thanks to this avoidable influx of people, but the right intentions do mean something.
Social Issues: 2/5. Abortion rights are weaker than they have been in decades. DC is still not a state. Progressives are still fuming about some cause that will inundate the US with debt. People are still dying at the hands of gun violence. Oh, and the Social Spending Bill never passed. And this is a biased list of things that I personally care about—the issues really go on and on. Anyways, at least he still wins the participation trophy for the most diverse cabinet.
Judicial Management: 4/5. There have been some major criminal revelations since Biden took office: the Arbery killers were sentenced, Derek Chauvin was imprisoned, and let’s not forget the onslaught of convictions against rioters from January 6th. But Kyle Rittenhouse walked out a free man, how? Good question…
Congressional Management: 2/5. Imagine if someone in your class or workplace said, “I now have the power to ruin everything you’re trying to do, and gladly will”. If you work on Capitol Hill, you can stop imagining—Manchin and Sinema do that job, handily. Biden, who should have adequate experience after over four decades in politics, has been unable to whip up the needed votes in his favour. At least it’s his agenda, not Trump’s!
Military: 1/5. It’s gone from bad to worse these past few months. Afghanistan was in a risky spot and everything I thought could go wrong, did (but did with a few unnecessary deaths sprinkled on top). Hundreds of civilians died in avoidable attacks from both sides in the last days in Afghanistan (including tens of US soldiers), and a recent US attack on a terrorist saw 13 killed unnecessarily.
Russia: 2/5. Nyet, Joe! Nyet! Joe Biden—for all the reasons you’d expect—has been required to take a stand and line up troops against Russia. But this feels like a repeat of the Afghanistan situation. It could all go wrong very, very fast. I’ve given him a pity point, let him enjoy the days before the next war with Russia brings him further into the military abyss.
Asia Pacific: 3/5. Thanks to Biden’s wholehearted attention to the Russian frontier, China has managed to fade ever so slightly into the background, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still problematic for the US. Plus, the diplomatic pull-out of the Beijing Winter Games sure didn’t help. If nothing else, though, Biden is continuing to build up in surrounding countries, and, so far, Taiwan has managed to survive: a win in my books!
Other Foreign Issues: 4/5. I know I’m biased given my pro-Israel stance, but this feels to me like one of Biden’s strong points. Generally, Biden has brought America back into the world of diplomacy and has re-established the country’s role as a global defender of democracy and a fighter of terrorism.
Presidential Demeanour: 1/5. Sigh.
Overall Score: 38/70. Yikes. But here’s to 2022! Fingers crossed the US isn’t in a war with Russia this time next year.