Dazed & Confused: CNN Host ‘Puzzled’ By Biden’s Unpopularity

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On Sunday morning, Fareed Zakaria opened his eponymous CNN show with a bizarre opening statement claiming he was “puzzled” by President Biden’s unpopularity.

At the show’s open, Zakaria led off the segment exclaiming:

I have to confess I find Joe Biden’s unpopularity puzzling. He’s rounding out his first year in the White House with the lowest end-of-first-year approval ratings of any elected President in modern times with the exception of Donald Trump. Why is this? Biden is a genial, likable person. Many of the policies he’s pursued have been popular, even some with Republican support. The country is doing reasonably well economically.

Equally delusional was Zakaria’s suggestion that Biden’s decline in approval ratings have “coincided with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the rise of Delta, and the onset of inflation”, rather than being directly caused by the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, rampant inflation, and the continued rise in the Delta variant. 

Instead, Zakaria deduced that “Perhaps Biden’s 11 point drop from roughly 56 percent after his first 100 days in office to 45 percent today, is a natural result of his inherent lack of political capital.”

 

 

Growth is coming back fast but restarting the global economy after a long period of induced paralysis has caused huge logjams and hiccups for a variety of reasons,” he argued, essentially parroting the White House’s talking points, before admitting “some of which can be blamed on Biden.” This ultimately wasn’t true because job growth numbers were sluggish at best.

Zakaria ended the segment seeming to give Biden a pass for his performance as President while also suggesting that Americans have their expectations set too high for their presidents:

Presidents often get rewarded for being around in good times, whether they caused them or not. In Joe Biden’s case, he has mostly handled his job with intelligence and decency, but he’s paying the price for the complicated times that we are living through.

Oh ok, so Biden is just a bystander and isn’t responsible for anything that’s happening in the country?

It’s almost hard to believe that someone can be this out of touch with reality. Biden may be considered genial and likable to some but honest observers will all admit that our nation’s economy is not “doing reasonably well economically”. Also, inflation doesn’t just happen to a country, it is made possible by bad economic policies.

Someone should’ve explained this to Fareed Zakaria before he went on television this morning and embarrassed himself. 

This segment of a CNN host ignorantly claiming he is “puzzled” by Biden’s unpopularity was brought to you by Simplisafe and InventHelp. Their information is linked so you can tell them about the biased news they fund. 

To read the relevant transcript click “expand”: 

Fareed Zakaria GPS

12/19/2021

10:01:26 AM

FAREED ZAKARIA: But first here’s “My take.” I have to confess I find Joe Biden’s unpopularity puzzling. He’s rounding out his first year in the White House with the lowest end-of-first-year approval ratings of any elected President in modern times with the exception of Donald Trump. Why is this? Biden is a genial, likable person. Many of the policies he’s pursued have been popular, even some with Republican support. The country is doing reasonably well economically as measures like unemployment which is declining, the stock market which is rising and interest rates demonstrate. So why did the latest CNN average of the polls have him at just 45 percent?

Now one has to remember that Biden is something of an accidental President. He got elected for two reasons, neither which has much to do with his personal popularity. First, Barack Obama chose him as Vice President, which instantly elevated him in the Democratic field. Second, Donald Trump. Had these two factors not been present, it’s difficult to imagine Biden in the White House. To put this another way, the previous two times Biden ran for president, he did not do well. His first attempt in 1987 ended after 3 1/2 months with an abrupt withdrawal but even before that, he was polling well behind in the Democratic field.

In the second run, he stayed in longer but his poll numbers were abysmal. A poll released about a month before he dropped out in January 2008 had him at about 4 percent among registered Democrats and his showing in the Iowa caucuses was under 1 percent. Successful Democratic Presidents usually fit one of two patterns, either they’re charismatic outsiders who energize the country like John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama, or they’re southerners who manage to bridge the divide between north and south and all of that represents, like Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton combined both, which might explain his success, achieving the highest average approval ratings for a Democrat since John Kennedy. Clinton is technically tied with Johnson, whose ratings in his first few years after Kennedy’s assassination were sky high but then plummeted in the latter part of his tenure.

Biden fits neither of these models and doesn’t have enormous reserves of popularity and political capital. Perhaps for that reason, he’s struggled to inspire or ignite the party and the country.

Now, to be fair, it’s much harder for any President to do that in today’s polarized environment. No Democrat and no Republican can expect to get much more than about half of the country’s approval, a different world from one not so long ago in which Obama and George H.W. Bush, both gained stratospheric numbers, for a time.

Perhaps Biden’s 11 point drop from roughly 56 percent after his first 100 days in office to 45 percent today, is a natural result of his inherent lack of political capital. But it does seem like other factors have weighed in. the timing of his biggest slide in popularity, Summer of 2021, coincided with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the rise of Delta, and the onset of inflation.

It’s difficult to parse which was most important but they seem to collectively have had the effect of telling Americans that life was not back to normal. In a recent New York Times article, Nate Cohen explains the flaws behind the assumption that if Biden’s programs are popular, so should be the President.

Such thinking is predicated on the existence of an electorate that is carefully studying the various proposals out there, weighing the evidence about each one, choosing carefully, and then supporting the politicians who backs their favorite bills. That may be how some people make political judgments, specifically, those who watch cable news, follow opinion columns, vote in primaries and are active on Twitter. But all those people represent a small minority of voters.

As Cohen notes voters, by which he means general voters, seem to reward Presidents for presiding over peace and prosperity. In a word, normalcy. To the extent that things do seem to be generally going well, voters tend to look favorably on the President. To the except they don’t, they tend to be disillusioned with the White House. 

Now, the best summary of the current situation would be it’s complicated. The world is largely at peace but Americans can see that the country is no longer the sole superpower. The Afghanistan withdrawal was an ugly reminder of that fact. Growth is coming back fast but restarting the global economy after a long period of induced paralysis has caused huge logjams and hiccups for a variety of reasons, some of which can be blamed on Biden. We are seeing more inflation than in decades, and that has often weighed on presidential approval ratings. Violent crime was up nationwide in 2020. And the pandemic has not ended with a bang but rather continues to wax and wane, causing new anxieties just when you thought it was safe to get back to normal life.

Presidents often get rewarded for being around in good times, whether they caused them or not. In Joe Biden’s case, he has mostly handled his job with intelligence and decency, but he’s paying the price for the complicated times that we are living through.

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