In an extraordinary interview laced with dark notes of pessimism, US President Joe Biden exhorted his people to be optimistic about the second quarter of the new millennium being America’s. His forecast was at odds with his view that the American “people are really, really down.” Speaking to a news agency at length even as the White House press corps saw red over accessibility to the President, Mr Biden ventured the opinion that more of his people may need help with their mental health and he blamed the Covid crisis for it all.
Midway into the second year of his term, the US President finds his approval ratings falling to a record low after ducking below 50 per cent in August 2021. Democrats too may be beginning to disown him as he grapples with an economy that is threatening to hurt people with higher prices at the pump and for food amid myriad post-Covid adjustment problems. Mr Biden is not to blame for the pandemic or the Ukraine war but it is his $1.9 trillion Covid package that is being targeted as doomsday forecasts of the US economy slipping into recession after the rate hike gain ground.
There is a real threat to the Democrats in the mid-terms on Nov. 8 as they could end up losing control of the House as well as the Senate, with the Republicans needing five more seats for a majority in the House and just one more in the Senate. If that were to happen, Mr Biden would become the fall guy though he should, in all fairness, be marked as just another to be in power at the wrong time, during the triple whammy of the pandemic, the war in Europe and inflation.
The point is Mr Biden already seems to be the skipper of a sinking ship, rendering his candidature for re-election in 2024, when he will be 74, even less rosy. If his reading of a Covid hit to the psyche of the people is accurate, then the task is bound to be more onerous. His admission that his people are “down” is more a confession than a statement of fact. If the US economy were to slip into recession in 2023, the result of the 2024 election may be a quake for democracy itself rather than just the US Democrats.