Can Joe Biden do the job?

That question is being asked, with rising alarm, by a substantial number of Democrats. Their concern has not yet crystalized into conviction, and there is still time for the president to reverse this trend, but the current mood of dismay is unmistakable.

In the latest CNN poll, for instance, the percentage of voters who strongly approve of Biden’s performance has slipped from 35 percent in April down to 15 percent. That drop, concludes CNN, “has been driven more by disappointment among his original supporters than an expansion of the group that started off strongly opposed to his presidency.”

In the recent ABC/Washington Post poll, the president’s overall approval rating is down to 41 percent, and the Post reports: “Biden’s popularity ... has slumped among his own base. In June, 94 percent of Democrats approved of the way he was handling his job compared with 3 percent who disapproved. Today, 80 percent of Democrats are positive and 16 percent are negative.”

There are many reasons for this trend, but let’s start with a basic fact: Joe Biden was not elected because his followers thought he’d make a great president. The primary enthusiasm behind his campaign was generated not by love for Biden but by loathing of Donald Trump.

Last year, voters measured Biden against the other option. Today, Biden is being measured against himself — against his own promises and record — and that’s why his bungling of the withdrawal from Kabul was so damaging. Voters who couldn’t find Afghanistan on a map were troubled by the images of turmoil and tragedy, which contradicted the central message he had sold them: I’ve been around, I know what I’m doing, you can trust me.

Pictures from the Southern border of white agents harassing Black migrants worsened Biden’s growing reputation for incompetence. And then two mutating viruses — one called the delta variant and the other called inflation — made things much worse.

Even strong supporters of vaccinations and boosters are totally fed up with wearing masks, missing hugs and smiles, feeling isolated from friends and family. These distortions of daily life are contributing heavily to the dismal national mood.

Then there’s inflation. For a while, the White House talked about rising prices like Trump used to talk about COVID-19 — it was a “transitory” problem that would go away by itself as soon as temporary supply chain problems, caused by the pandemic, dissipated. They were wrong.

The latest figures show an annual inflation rate of 6.2 percent, the highest in 30 years — about the worst possible news for a White House already struggling with declining public confidence.

Rising prices might well be the most damaging of all political issues because they affect every adult every day. Even when you’re not buying gas, you can’t avoid that big flashing sign on your local station saying $3.50 a gallon. You know that your next fill-up will cost $50 and your grocery bill will continue to climb. And you start worrying about whether you’ll be able to afford Christmas presents for your kids this year.

On top of all that, the endless and enervating debates on Capitol Hill, pitting Democrats against each other as they squabble over the president’s agenda, has undermined Biden’s claim to be a master legislator.

Still, it’s only been 10 months. Now that Congress has finally passed Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, he can tour the country touting its benefits. An even larger social spending measure could follow. If supply chain problems ease, if inflation steadies, if COVID-19 cases continue to decline, the president can still recapture his reputation for competence.

But he has to do that before the dismay his fellow Democrats are now feeling hardens into disenchantment.

Steven Roberts teaches politics and journalism at George Washington University. He can be contacted by email at


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(22) comments

Carlos Ponce

Don't look at Biden. His mind is gone.Look at his controllers instead. Some once suggested a "plural executive". Too many crooks ruin a country.

Gary Scoggin

At least he talks in complete sentences.

Carlos Ponce

Not true, Gary Scoggin, not true.

Bailey Jones

And he can drive a car.

Carlos Ponce

Look carefully at the video, Bailey. There's a second person in the F150 doing the actual steering.

Bailey Jones

Carloser, you're such a hateful little slug. For anyone left in this forum still stupid enough to believe anything you say - here's the video that proves (once again) what a small, petty, lying, cretinous troll you are.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey, look at it FRAME BY FRAME (if you know how). While Biden does have his hands on the steering wheel, the actual steering is being done by the "passenger" using his left hand at the 4 o'clock position. You may have to lighten the screen to see through the tinted window (if you know how) . But the peeling out was all Joe'. This could be inexperience with the vehicle or just bad driving.

Carlos Ponce

Now the Ford F 150 is a different story. Watch as Joe turns the steering wheel .... but the tires don't turn in a corresponding manner.

Ed Buckner

Given that "the job" includes overcoming significant irrational knee-jerk obstructionism in a divided legislature and countering aggressive ignorance among great swaths of the electorate, as well as countering completely unfounded conspiracies about "stolen" elections, I'm not sure anyone can do it. I'm quite pessimistic about the 2022 and 2024 elections.

Charles Douglas

I noticed that the author listed a lot of "Ifs" at the end of his Op-Ed. To that I would like to say "IF" the rabbit had Not taken the Hunter's gun, there would have been NO REASON, for the Hunter to TURN TAIL AND RUN!! Lololo.

Amagine now, we have an old fool stumbling around in DC, walking around with his elbows and forearms hoist high to keep him from falling over from old age, trying to lead! We have a man who can't tell his wife from his sister half of the time! In Joe, we have a man who asked his enemies in Afghanistan to be his security for Americans to withdraw from Afghanistan, resulting in many of Americans getting KILLED, from suicide bombers, and many more, because "Cut N Run" Joe decided it was in HIS best interest to leave them behind to be killed while he kept an appointment to gloat, brag, & stick his chest out as the one who ended the Afghanistan War at an upcoming 9-1-1 Aniversary!

The good is going to suffer with the bad on this little gem, because as long as the Radicals who are operating this "PUPPET of a leader" on their strings ...are in power, and control.. this nation will continue to be in a state of free fall, and also the "laughing stock" of the world!

One thing for sure you never, never, saw the Red Chinese Leader [censored] out D.J. Trump like he did Joe China the other day, then he laughed about doing it! Disgraceful!!!!! Scandalous!!!!!

David Hardee

Any anticipation that Biden and his handlers can do other than put our country into social decay and financial bankruptcy is denying the result of the 11 months record we have endured. There is not a single member of the Biden administration that is not incompetent. Homosexual married Buttigieg while a surrogate gave birth - was on maternity leave - and now is using his mouth to spout those things that he will never be able to accomplish. Laughing VP - border czar - Kamala has achieved ruining what she has not done by doing nothing. Silly general Milley has our soldiers hugging each other for solace about their fear of being too aggressive. And that wonderful action to reduce pipelines and fracking so we will need Saudi oil has really worked to the advantage of all but the American citizens. I could go on but the listing would would overwhelm space available.

The only conclusion is that if it is a Biden initiative it is a "build better bulls__t"

Ed Buckner

The only conclusion about Mr Hardee's comment that can be reached is that he is an ill-informed partisan, unwilling to offer measured criticism. Nothing new, in other words.

David Hardee

Buckner. Putting aside that every time we engaged in studious discourse the result was your atheist belief, that you are personally the embodiment of the “Prime Mover”,, God made logic a nuisance. Consequently on this occasion, I relent from making an evidentiary recitation. Because, that would be a waste on those blabbering fools that for all the results of the 11 months of Biden’s bumbling express no remorse for the vote they cast.

The record is indisputable. The destructive acts of Biden constituents are intentional. Those that excuse the record or anticipate a better future are in denial - or stupid. Smell the smoke of burning cities. Wallow in the accelerating waste of tax dollars. Ignore as your children are indoctrinated with illogical psychosis. And continue to follow the Judas Goats into the annihilation of the best hope of humanity under the banners of progressive liberals. “IGNORANCE IS BLISS”

Ed Buckner

As ever, Mr. Hardee makes stuff up and makes no sense even when he doesn't.

David Hardee

As always Buckner fears a substantial rejoinder to any specifics. His silence on the specifics is an equivalence to " 'qui tacet consentire videtur "- [he who is silent seems to consent]'.

Let us hear Buckner's retort to, or define the responsibility for "The destructive acts of Biden constituents are intentional. Those that excuse the record or anticipate a better future are in denial - or stupid. Smell the smoke of burning cities. Wallow in the accelerating waste of tax dollars. Ignore as your children are indoctrinated with illogical psychosis. And continue to follow the Judas Goats into the annihilation of the best hope of humanity under the banners of progressive liberals.

Otherwise, Buckner's silence means consent.

Ed Buckner

Anyone anywhere who makes up and posts nonsense like claiming that I think I am "personally the embodiment of the 'Prime Mover'" is plainly useless to argue with--might be entertaining but no chance of enlightening anyone.

Charles Douglas

Mr. Hardee> [thumbup][thumbup] You knocked that "thang" OUT- YONDER, as we use to say in East Texas!

George Laiacona

We already know that the Republican Trumpers will express negative comments regarding anything our President does. But for those of us that are concerned about Americans and not party, things are improving despite their being a disgruntled group because they lost the last election.

Ed Buckner

[thumbup], Mr. Laiacona.

Curtiss Brown

It seems that Mr. Roberts has posted a rational and thoughtful opinion column. I don't understand why the usual cast of comment trolls can't resist saying something negative in the face of seemingly deliberate objectivity.

Ed Buckner

Yes, Mr. Brown!

Ted Gillis

I'm busy today Curtis,

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