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A disappointment named Biden | Press



Joe Biden’s first year in office ends with a mixed bag. Rightly or wrongly, the new President of the United States is judged to have failed to live up to expectations and to meet his own ambitions. Professor of American politics at Concordia University, Graham Dodds explains the reasons for this disappointment …

Q. How would you describe Joe Biden’s first year in office? Is there a word to sum it all up?

A. If there was only one, I would say “disappointment”. The expectations were very high, perhaps too much. A lot of people thought that once Trump left, everything would return to normal. Others believed that they would be the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that he would change the American welfare state, that he would get rid of inequalities, that he would solve the problem of the pandemic, that he would reverse the conservative trend. in American politics. But it was all unrealistic. The United States is a very divided country, and Biden cannot do whatever he wants. He needs Congress, which is itself very divided.


Graham Dodds, Professor of American Politics at Concordia University

Q. What are his accomplishments, despite everything?

A. He has had some success with the pandemic, among other things in the distribution of vaccines. He also succeeded in getting his infrastructure law signed, which the two presidents before him had failed to do. A good hit. He has appointed judges, who will be in office for decades and will have a long-term impact. I also believe that he has reassured his allies internationally.

Q. Its popularity is at an all-time low. A recent poll tells us that only 40% of Americans approve of his presidency. Only Donald Trump did worse than him after a year in the White House. Where did he miss his shot?

A. It feels like Biden has underperformed because the pandemic is still here, the economy is fragile and he has failed to get passed. Build Back Better, its ambitious program of social and environmental reforms. He let himself be taunted for months by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who ended up opposing the plan. But indeed, I believe he could have done better on certain points.

Q. What are you thinking? The hasty withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, which enabled the Taliban to return to Kabul?

A. He looked bad on that point, without a doubt. It hurt him politically even if, in his defense, he honored the agreement that Donald Trump had negotiated. But that’s not all. Domestically, he could have communicated better about the economy to convince Americans that all is not so bad. He could also have acted earlier for certain important appointments. The new ambassador to Ottawa was only appointed a few weeks ago. Why did you wait so long ? Finally, he could have been less “patient” with Congress and done more things faster. But it seems that this is not his personality …

Q. Exactly. How do you describe his style of presidency?

A. He is a president who believes in institutional processes, who tries to be kind, to lower the temperature, not to be too brutal. There is much less drama than with Donald Trump. It’s a big difference. With Trump, one could expect insults or spectacular statements every day. There is none of that with Biden. Less entertaining? I suppose. Boring ? I do not know.

Q. What do you think we can expect for the year 2022?

A. Each president is usually at the top on the first day of his term, and becomes less and less popular as the days go by. Chances are, Biden’s political environment will become less and less acquired with him. The midterm elections, due next year, have traditionally been against the ruling party. Chances are the Republicans will take control of the US House of Representatives, possibly the Senate. It is also possible that the Supreme Court will make rulings that will push policies to the right regarding abortion or gun control. In short, if Biden has had difficulty acting this year, it may be even more difficult for him in 2022. And then there is foreign policy. He must reassure NATO. Face China and contain it. Likewise with Russia. If Putin attacks Ukraine, it will be a test for him.

There are things of concern. But deep down, who can really predict what’s going to happen?

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