In January 2021, in response to a map showing street closures in Washington, D.C., someone on Twitter quipped:
“2016 – Trump being elected won’t be so bad.
“2021 – How do I navigate the Green Zone so I can get groceries while also avoiding the plague?”
It was the sort of humor that does well on social media, particularly when the target is Donald Trump. Recent events, however, suggest we should recast the tweet with President Joe Biden as the punchline:
2020 — Biden being elected won’t be so bad.
2022 — How do I find new N-95 masks because of rising COVID-19 cases so I can be safe while crossing state lines searching for baby formula and paying $5 a gallon for gas as the stock market crashes while I worry that we’re about to go to war with Russia, China or both?
An increasing number of Americans are concluding, nearly 18 months into the Biden administration, that the administration is failing on every front except perhaps diversity appointments. And many of Biden’s unscripted remarks — to include saying Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” and Monday’s vow to militarily defend Taiwan if China attacks — have potentially sobering consequences. (As did, apparently, his January remark that a “minor incursion” by Russia into Ukraine wouldn’t be so bad.)
In short, despite all the handwringing that preceded and accompanied the Trump administration, there’s as much, if not more, to be worried about with Biden in charge.
Under Trump, multiple news outlets published panic-filled screeds about “how to survive the Trump administration.” Esquire gave voice to a survival expert who likened the effects of a Trump presidency to 9/11 and said “as a nation, we’re staring down the barrel of this very dangerous gun in the form of this lunatic in the White House.”
A 2016 column in The Washington Post offered five strategies for survival that included two that are quite funny in retrospect, given our current circumstances: “Don’t obsess too much about your family finances” and “Hoard imported goods.”
If only families had the foresight to hoard European baby formula back while Trump was president.
While it’s easy to catastrophize, especially with monkeypox making its debut on our 2022 disaster bingo cards, in truth, the state of our union is far less promising than what Biden described in his address to Congress on March 1, when he said, “My top priority is getting prices under control.”
Then, the inflation rate was 7.9%. It’s 8.3% now, and many economic forecasters are convinced a recession is likely in the coming year. Pain spans the socioeconomic spectrum. Working-class Americans who have already been hit by soaring gas, food and rent costs are soon to see rising interest rates on their credit cards. Wealthier Americans have seen their 401(k) balances fall in a stock marketing flirting with bear territory, and increasingly there is talk of a housing bubble burst that will deflate home values. Meanwhile, large companies such as Walmart and Target are seeing profits decline as they grapple with how much of their rising costs they can pass to consumers.
World War lll was not on my 2022 bingo card.— 🇺🇸Carson Krow 🇺🇸 (@carsonkrow) February 24, 2022
I’ve gone ahead and added World War lV Taiwan Edition to my 2022 bingo card.
For better news, don’t look to the world stage. Earlier this year, some Americans were buying iodine pills out of fear of nuclear conflict with Russia because of America’s support of Ukraine. But Biden’s pledge to militarily defend Taiwan, a departure from the historic U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity,” is more worrisome than his unscripted remark in March that was widely interpreted as a call for regime change in Russia. With all of this going on, it’s easy to forget that it’s been less than a year since the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, but it was just last summer that we were watching Afghans clinging to planes and falling to their deaths in the chaotic evacuation.
Biden’s poll numbers reflect all of this, of course, and his popularity has fallen even among Democrats. Former President Bill Clinton recently wrote that Biden cares more about people than polls, which would be a legitimate defense had the president not recently called “this MAGA crowd” the “most extreme political organization” in recent American history.
This sort of rhetoric is a disappointing departure from Biden’s inaugural address, when he said, “We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature.”
To be sure, Donald Trump pushed the thermostat to new heights, and not all of the worry about the Trump presidency was unfounded. For example, former defense secretary Mark Esper recently wrote that he had to talk Trump out of launching missiles into Mexico. Given Trump’s volatility, there may have been other bad and potentially dangerous ideas that we narrowly escaped.
What’s different now is that no one ever predicted that Joe Biden could be dangerous. Before he was sworn in, there were no “How to survive the Biden presidency” articles predicting domestic and global mayhem. Now, even his famously affable personality seems suspect, with Biden lashing out at reporters, and not just those from Fox News. And this is outside of the broader concern many Americans have about the president’s cognitive abilities.
Will we survive Joe Biden as a country? Most likely, even if monkeypox spreads, gas hits $6 a gallon and rolling blackouts shut air conditioners off in July and August. We’ve survived worse, after all. But survival is a pretty low bar.