Opinion | The Biden Era Has Surprisingly Little of Joe Biden in It

He barely rates. Last week's CNN town hall was a failure, with 1.5 million viewers. Fox News easily beat it in regular programming. MSNBC had more viewers, dropping the president of the United States to third place in cable-ratings. He has also underperformed in formal settings. Biden received 27 million to give his first address at a joint session, while Donald Trump received 48 million. Biden's approach is clearly more stark than Trump's hour-by–hour, difficult-to-ignore mix of political melodrama and provocation. After a WWE match, he is the Olympic badminton champion; he plays elevator music after a heavy-metal concert; and he sparkles after a fireworks display. Biden's presidency is in this sense pre-modern. It almost harkens back to pre-mass media times when presidents could not be seen or heard. This is part of a strategic decision by the White House to play on Trump's contrast and limit Bidens exposure in the media to avoid distractions and gaffes. Biden was able to use his low-voltage status in his primary campaign and the 2020 general election. So why not run for president? Biden, therefore, doesn't feel like the main event in the Biden years. If it does arrive, the 2022 midterm backlash won't directly concern Biden. Instead, it will be driven instead by the Biden-adjacent questions of the border and crime, critical race theory, and if they reemerge with forcemask mandates or school closures. Biden is only the main driver of one of these problems, the crisis at border that could easily have been avoided if Trump had continued to implement the policies it used to control the flow of migrants. They are also hot buttons, where other than Biden, there are key players such as governors, mayors and school boards or education bureaucrats. This means that the culture war will likely be the most important issue in 2022 rather than the president. This would be a significant departure from the midterm protests that Barack Obama and Bill Clinton got in 1994 and 2010. These were deeply personal rejections by both men. Clinton was seen as unworthy of the office, while Obama was viewed as a crypto-socialist hostile towards American exceptionalism. Biden and his agenda are not the focus of anyone on the right, so very little energy is spent opposing him. The idea that generates the most passion and interest isn't that the president is actively working to destroy American life isnt Biden, whose bizarre verbal ramblings can be quite absurdisnt in command. This is likely to work in Biden's favor, given the alternative. Biden is pushing a radical spending agenda. If he was backed by a more progressive president than someone who feels like a caregiver, it would be met with fierce resistance. Biden faces other risks. It is not clear what will happen next if his spending plan fails. Biden is clearly well-suited for rallying the nation or driving an agenda, even if the White House decides that he should be unleashed. Biden has always been a talker but not an orator. Although his advisors believe that he will create a feeling of normality in Washington through his low-intensity presidency, it could easily be accompanied by a disturbing sense or drift. The dynamic of the presidency is that if you don't seem to have control over events, they will control you. Biden's test will be whether he is eventually the most prominent figure in his presidency.


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