Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
April 14, 2022
US is the most powerful nation in the world, her economic size and military might command respect. However, Trump and Biden as consecutive US President and Commander in Chief are disappointing. Especially, Biden, packed a life-long career in DC and as Vice President to Obama for eight years, is facing major credibility challenges domestically as well as around the world.
Biden speeches are boring as compared to Trump, further his statements are often immediately “corrected” by his staff. The trouble for Biden is that he has not learned from public embarrassments and just keeps talking from his heart! The Biden administration has already lost much creditability managing the Ukraine war so far, the question is how Biden will lead the allies to settle the Ukraine war! It seems like Zelensky is in command of the war and Biden is only expressing his personal feelings. Along the way, Biden is cutting himself out of any future interactions with other global leaders including Putin, Xi, MBS et al. Please note:
- The global approval of the US leadership, shooting up 15 points after Biden took the office, is still at 45% hardly a majority.
- US domestic approval of Biden administration is even worse; the lowest number is only at 33%
No wonder, Biden only speaks for himself!
When Biden ‘speaking from his heart’ doesn’t speak for US
CALVIN WOODWARD and ZEKE MILLER
Wed, April 13, 2022, 2:55 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) — There’s no such thing as a purely personal opinion from the Oval Office on policies that matter. Armchair quarterbacking when you’re the president is fraught when you’re the one with the ball.
Armies can move on your words; markets can convulse; diplomacy can unravel.
That has not stopped President Joe Biden from viscerally weighing in on the Ukraine war — labeling Russia’s Vladimir Putin a war criminal, appearing to advocate an overthrow in Moscow, branding Russian war actions as genocide — then saying it’s all his personal, not presidential, opinion.
It’s sowing confusion in dangerous times.
America is no mere bystander in this conflict. The U.S. is Ukraine’s chief supplier of arms from the West, a key source of military intelligence for Kyiv and a driving force behind global sanctions against Russia. It has generations of experience in how to talk to and about its historic nuclear rival.
But on consequential superpower subjects, Biden these days is “speaking from his heart,” his aides have said repeatedly. Not unlike his predecessor, he is reacting at times to what he sees on TV. He’s not always to be taken literally, it is argued.
A declaration of genocide is history’s harshest judgment against a country, one that can bind the signers of a United Nations treaty to intervene. Concern about that obligation dissuaded the U.S. from recognizing the Rwandan Hutus’ killing of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis in 1994 as genocide. It took more than a century for a U.S. president, Biden last year, to recognize the Armenian genocide.
But in remarks in Iowa on Tuesday, Biden equated Russia’s mass killings of Ukrainian civilians to genocide and stuck with that position on his way back to Washington: “Yes, I called it genocide,” he affirmed. Lawyers will decide if Russia’s conduct met the international standard, the president added, but “it sure seems that way to me.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Biden’s remarks. “True words of a true leader,” he tweeted. “Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil.”
But as the war unfolds in Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron warned, “I’m not sure if the escalation of words serves our cause.”
“I am prudent with terms today,” Macron said. “Genocide has a meaning. … It’s madness what’s happening today. It’s unbelievable brutality and a return to war in Europe. But at the same time I look at the facts, and I want to continue to try the utmost to be able to stop the war and restore peace.”
At the White House last month, Biden said of Putin, “I think he is a war criminal,” in response to a shouted question as he walked out of an unrelated bill-signing reception. He said the same again when visiting U.S. troops in Poland.
The White House hastened to say that did not necessarily signal U.S. policy.
“He was speaking from his heart and speaking from what he’s seen on television, which is barbaric actions by a brutal dictator, through his invasion of a foreign country,” said press secretary Jen Psaki.
Psaki on Wednesday dismissed the notion that anyone was confused by the idea of Biden’s personal comments not reflecting federal policy. She said Biden ran for office promising “he would shoot from the shoulder, is his phrase that he often uses, and tell it to them straight. And his comments yesterday, not once but twice, and on war crimes are an exact reflection of that.”
As well, after meeting Ukrainian children torn from their families in the war, Biden sent his staff scrambling to explain his apparent endorsement of Moscow regime change when he said of Putin: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
Again, not U.S. policy.
“I was expressing the moral outrage that I felt toward this man,” Biden said days later. “I wasn’t articulating a policy change.”
It was Donald Trump who jettisoned the idea of a scripted presidency every way he could, with his multitude of tweets leading the way. Some reflected policy. Some just mirrored what was in his head at the moment.
“We made a dramatic transition during the Trump presidency” in coming to realize that a president may not be speaking for the government or the country at times, but only for himself, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She credits the Biden White House with being quick to set the record straight when that happens.
In Jamieson’s academic world of political rhetoric, some public figures like Barack Obama are considered self-monitors — they hear what they are saying as they say it and catch themselves in progress when they go adrift. Biden, she says, lacks this filter.
“Obama was a high self monitor,” she said. “Biden is not. The distance between thought and expression for Biden is not very wide.”
Along with longtime foreign-policy credentials and a deep knowledge of how government works, Biden has a history of loose lips and letting his emoting get the better of him.
That caused occasional friction when he was Obama’s vice president, as when Biden endorsed same-sex marriage rights in a 2012 TV interview before his boss was quite ready to do so. Biden “probably got out a little bit over his skis, but out of generosity of spirit,” Obama said at the time, adding that he would have “preferred to have done this in my own way, on my own terms.”
White House aides say Biden’s pronouncements reflect that he’s never been one to hold his tongue through his five decades in Washington, even when it gets him into trouble.
They see Biden’s declarations, separate from his government’s policies, as reactions not just to the horrifying scenes in Ukraine, but also to political pressure at home to say and do more in response to Russia’s invasion.
To David Axelrod, former adviser to the ever-cautious Obama, Biden’s remark that Putin “cannot remain in power” illustrated the Washington adage that “everyone’s strength is their weakness.”
Biden’s strength is his empathy and authenticity, Axelrod said on his recent podcast, and that can also be a weakness when a president says the wrong thing in a time of crisis.
The risk from off-the-cuff remarks is hardly new with Biden. In 2016, Axelrod foresaw a similar concern from Trump’s capacity for highly contentious comments.
“You can’t, when you’re president of the United States, just shoot first and think about it later in terms of what you say,” he said then, “because people can actually start shooting based on what you say.”
Global approval of the US shot up 15 points during Biden’s first year after crashing under Trump, new polling finds
Brent D. Griffiths
Mon, April 11, 2022, 9:01 PM
- Worldwide approval of the US has rebounded under President Biden.
- Gallup’s annual world poll found that approval of the US shot up 15 percentage points.
- But Biden’s honeymoon appears to have ended during the US’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Worldwide views of the US vastly improved during President Joe Biden first year in office, a sign of just how much the globe had soured on former President Donald Trump, new polling revealed.
Median approval of US leadership shot up 15 percentage points, according to the latest edition of Gallup’s world poll.The bump takes America roughly back to the Obama-era norm of approval in the 45% range compared to 30% during Trump’s final year in office. Biden even tied Obama’s 49% record high by August 2021 before the US ratings slipped in the second half of the year amid the administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, although Gallup cautions it can’t specifically say the withdrawal caused the decline.
“I anticipated a change, but I didn’t anticipate the change would be to this scale,” Julie Ray, managing Editor for World News at Gallup said in an interview.
Global approval of the US over timeCourtesy of Gallup
Biden ran on a message of ending Trump’s “America First” policies, returning America to international agreements like the Paris Climate Accord and taking a less confrontational stance towards alliances and international bodies like NATO.
This vast change in world views is nothing new, Ray said. President Barack Obama experienced a similar bump after he replaced President George W. Bush after most of the world grew fed up with the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s foreign policy.
The polling is a bit of good news for a White House that is facing a much more hostile reception back home. Biden’s domestic approval ratings tanked after his Afghanistan withdrawal and as the Omicron variant renewed COVID-19 worries. Unlike his predecessors, Biden is also not experiencing a “rally round’ the flag” bump as he helps guide the West amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Some of the biggest pro-America swings were in Europe. The nation’s overall approval rating for US leadership are in parentheses. Views of the US jumped 52 percentage-points in Portugal (64%), 45 points in the Netherlands (63%), and 42 points in Norway (54%).
Traditional US allies that Trump repeatedly tangled with also expressed rosier views. Germany, where Trump clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, gave Biden’s America a 36-point boost (42%). Global views are still more favorable of Germany compared to the US, the Germans have a median world approval of 50%.
Canada, which Trump labeled a US “security threat” when he imposed tariffs on its steel and aluminum imports, gave Biden a 38-point bump (55%). US approval also went up 26 points in Mexico (52%), which Trump made a prime target of criticism over immigration.
Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, views of the US soared among NATO members. In 20 out of the 27 NATO nations, the US experienced a double-digit bump in approval. Lithuania was the only NATO member where views of the US declined, down 6 percentage points.
Gallup surveyed 116 countries and territories for its world poll, which it began tracking in 2007. The polling is so massive that it had to been conducted throughout 2021 with some final surveys ending in January 2022. The firm used phone and in-person interviews with nationally representative samples among people 15-years-old or older. For results based on a nation’s total sample, the margin of error ranges from plus or minus 2.8 to 5 percentage points.
Some changes in approval could also be due to surveying methods, Gallup said. The polling firm suggested this is why views of the US fell double digits in Nepal and Zambia after Gallup switched from telephone interviews in 2020 to in-person interviews in 2021.
April 11, 2022 7:54pm
Biden and Democrats Should Be Absolutely Terrified by New Poll Numbers
Thu, April 14, 2022, 5:03 PM
In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a character is asked how he went bankrupt. “Gradually, then suddenly” is the reply.
This formulation might also help explain how it feels to lose an election. President Joe Biden’s collapse of popular support has been so long coming that a new Quinnipiac poll showing him with just a 33 percent approval rating (!) was greeted mostly with yawns.
Dig a little deeper, though, and things are even scarier for Democrats.
Biden is polling at a dismal 24 percent approval among Hispanics (with 54 percent disapproving). And while his numbers among African-Americans are still above water at 63 percent, his numbers have fallen almost 20 percentage points since last April.
This poll may constitute a new low, but it’s no flukey outlier. The trends are clear. NBC News recently compared polling from 2018 (a great midterm year for Dems) with its own 2022 polling—and college-educated women are the only cohort that has become bluer. (Conversely, NBC News found a “pronounced [Republican] shift among men of 20 points,” as Steve Kornacki noted.)
So why is this all happening, and what does it all mean? Let’s unpack this.
There are a lot of theories about why Hispanics have soured on Biden, but let’s just start with a few choice cuts.
Many Hispanics work in the service sector, and were disproportionately harmed by lockdowns (a policy that is more likely to be associated with the Democratic Party). Some Hispanics came to America from socialist countries with political repression and failed economies, and thus, aren’t fond of the Democratic Party’s increasingly socialist tilt. And some are repelled by the party’s “woke” politics. For example, many Latinos really don’t like the word “Latinx.” And there is polling to suggest that Hispanic Democrats were especially turned off by “defund the police” rhetoric.
What about Black Americans? One theory holds that Biden’s failure to pass progressive legislation, like a voting rights bill or police reform, is to blame. But there really isn’t any data to suggest that Black voters prioritized these goals. Likewise, Biden’s slide with Black Americans started before his legislative failures. (Interestingly, it seems more plausible that Biden’s vaccine mandates might actually have something to do with this decline.)
The main explanation, though, is probably a simple one: Hispanics and African-Americans—like a lot of us—are worried about inflation.
As Democratic pollster Jay Campbell told CNBC, “Cost of living has just blown everything else, including COVID, out of the water. And part of the reason for that is, there are attitudes about the economy that are largely a partisan phenomenon,” Campbell said. “That is not the case with inflation, or at least not right now. It is the top issue for Democrats, independents, and Republicans.”
This makes even more sense when you consider that inflation hurts low-wage Americans worse than anyone, and a disproportionate percentage of minorities belong to that economic cohort. As a result, some formerly reliable Democratic voters may be prioritizing their “working class” status over their racial identity.
To understand just how dangerous this attrition is for Dems, consider that only about 37.5 percent of Americans have a bachelor’s degree, and that about 60 percent of Americans are white (about 65 percent of whites did not graduate from college). Because non-college educated whites have been strongly trending toward Republicans, Democrats have to over-perform with everyone else just to keep pace. It’s not enough to win college graduates and minority voters—the margins matter. And Joe Biden isn’t delivering.
Further complicating the problem is that the most predictable quick-fix solutions might actually deepen Democrats’ long-term problems.
If you assume that college-educated women are your core base, what do you do or say to juice their turnout numbers? And if you assume that minority votes are vital to prevent an electoral tsunami, what (aside from actually fixing inflation) do you say or do?
It’s a Catch-22. The quickest way for Democrats to boost their numbers may be to do or say progressive things that would ironically perpetuate their long-term decline.
In this regard, Democrats are sort of like a man lost at sea who finally decides to quench his thirst by drinking saltwater. And if the Democrats are out to sea, Biden deserves much of the blame.
Upon winning office, Biden promptly ignored the “Biden coalition” that got him elected, and tried to become the second coming of LBJ. The disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan came on his watch, and that seems to have begun his polling decline. Similarly, Biden’s policies and rhetoric likely contributed to a range of problems, including inflation and the border crisis. And lastly, Biden’s inability to effectively lead or inspire as a public speaker makes it very hard for him to change the current trajectory.
With his approval ratings hitting a new low, Joe Biden had better hope that April is, indeed, the cruelest month of the year. We were already expecting a complete wipeout for Dems, come November. Make no mistake: It could get even worse.
The Sun Also Sets.