Biden needs to fix his presidency not for legacy, but for the sake of a desperate nation

·3 min read
President Joe Biden addresses the nation on Jan. 19, 2022, on the eve of his first anniversary since his inauguration.
President Joe Biden addresses the nation on Jan. 19, 2022, on the eve of his first anniversary since his inauguration.

You’re reading Our View, one of two perspectives in Today’s Debate.

For the Opposing View read Jen Psaki: President Joe Biden's first year marked by tremendous progress.

Joe Biden entered the White House a year ago carrying Americans' hopes that he would restore the nation's confidence in itself and in its commander in chief after four years of Donald Trump's ineptness and dishonesty. But Biden in his first year as president has proved to be agonizingly ineffective.

Biden's signature piece of legislation, the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan, remains on the shelf after the president failed to secure enough votes for it in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The same failure has now beset voting rights legislation, despite Biden's assertion last week that those who oppose the bills were siding with racists and traitors.

From Afghanistan withdrawal to the U.S.-Mexico border

A president who can't gain approval of cornerstone legislation that he passionately lobbied for – especially when his own party controls the House and Senate – is in danger of being written off as weak and ineffectual by both Washington insiders and the American public.

Not surprisingly, Biden's average approval rating is a meager 42%.

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After a solid career in the Senate and eight years as vice president, Biden seemed to have the experience and temperament needed to clean up the enormous messes that Trump left in his wake. But from a botched withdrawal from Afghanistan to mismanagement of the chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president and his team have stumbled through a stunning number of missteps.

That includes the administration's handling of the lingering pandemic, with Americans still struggling to secure enough COVID-19 tests and N95 masks. This week, the Biden team finally moved forward with distributing both masks and tests to a desperate public. And let's not even talk about the confusing messages coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Follow successful track of infrastructure bill

These are not mere partisan concerns. A PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll last month found that only 29% of independent voters approve of how Biden is handling his job.

Our purpose here is not to pile on a beleaguered president. It is, rather, to implore Biden and his team to reflect honestly on their failures and to make the changes needed in tactics, communication and personnel.

The nation needs an effective commander in chief as threats from China and Russia increase, as inflation erodes Americans' ability to pay their bills, as the pandemic continues to kill an average of about 1,700 people in the USA each day, and as the effects of climate change terrorize citizens from Florida to California.

Biden can start to record more wins than losses by following the successful track he navigated with the $1 trillion infrastructure bill in November. That bill, which gained bipartisan support in the House and Senate, shows that Democrats and Republicans can work together when the White House and congressional leaders take a more incremental approach to addressing the nation's problems.

With three years remaining in his term, Joe Biden must act urgently to fix his faltering presidency. He must do so not for the sake of his legacy or his party, but for the sake of a nation struggling beneath the weight of challenges that appear even more dire now than a year ago.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden needs to reflect on failures, fix presidency for America's sake