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Douglas Andrews / October 21, 2021

The Incredible Shrinking President

Just nine months into his term, Joe Biden already seems like he wishes he were someplace else.

Who’s pulling the strings? Who’s calling the shots at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Search us. But if we follow Occam’s razor, the most likely answer is: Joe Biden himself. Oh, sure, he’s in a state of cognitive decline; no serious person disputes this. But is he so debilitated that he’d cede the American presidency to an inexperienced and unelected underling like Chief of Staff Ron Klain or Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice?

Not Joe Biden. Not on your life.

Think about it: This is a guy who holds himself in extremely high regard. How else to explain his decision to run for president at the advanced age of 77, after having twice before been laughed off the stage by the American people? Plenty of folks may have Biden’s ear, but he’s the decider. He’s the guy who carpet-bombed us with awful executive orders during his first days in office. He’s the guy who called the January 6 Capitol riot “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” He’s the guy who called the GOP’s modest electoral reform efforts “Jim Crow 2.0,” “Jim Eagle,” and — where have we heard language like this before? — “the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.”

Face it: Only Joe Biden could do such damage and utter such inanities. Further, his brief tenure in office is precisely what we’d expect from a guy whom former Defense Secretary Robert Gates once said “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

Joe Biden is indeed calling the shots, and he’s calling them as The Incredible Shrinking President. We say this because the office has already proven itself far too big for him. Both his steep and sustained plunge in the polls and, this week’s media theater notwithstanding, his seeming invisibility during the congressional negotiations over his moribund “Build Back Better” agenda are evidence of this.

As columnist Dan McLaughlin astutely observes: “Public arguments by this president don’t help. They persuade nobody of anything. The bully pulpit has been reduced to a walker. Nine months into his tenure, Biden is already a spent force that nobody listens to. In terms of his influence, he went directly from honeymoon to lame duck.”

Even the fanboys at CNN have noticed Biden’s shrinkage, and so have members of Congress. “Privately,” they write, “Democrats are growing frustrated with Biden’s approach. ‘The reality right now is that a lot of people are saying, "Where’s Joe Biden? This is his agenda, why isn’t he more involved in the negotiations?”’ said one House Democrat, reflecting conversations going on among rank-and-file members.“

Other Democrats, though, have taken to shilling for the president — perhaps because they sense the gravity of the situation. Take hard-left Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, for example, who sounds like she’s auditioning to be Biden’s biographer. "The president is the inspirer,” she said after a Tuesday meeting with him. “He is the closer. He is the convincer. He is the mediator-in-chief. The president has been working incredibly hard to get everybody to a place where we can move this forward and finish this process.”

“The president is the inspirer”? The guy whose handlers routinely call a late-morning “lid” on the day has been working “incredibly hard”? Find us one person — just one — who actually believes this. Donald Trump used to get more done before 6 a.m. on Twitter than Joe Biden … er, never mind.

And speaking of Trump, he summed up his successor’s malaise this way: “After just nine months under Biden, violent criminals and bloodthirsty gangs are taking over our streets. Illegal aliens and deadly drug cartels are taking over our borders. Inflation is taking over our economy. China is taking over our jobs. The Taliban has taken over Afghanistan. Lunatic leftists are taking over our schools, and radical socialists are taking over our country.”

When it’s put like that, yeah, we can understand why Biden is keeping such a low profile.


Correction: Pramila Jayapal is a representative from Washington, not California as we originally stated. Our apologies to the good people in California.

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