Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
June 3, 2022
No one has the experience to be US President until he moves into the White House. Biden’s career is all in DC, but he can not claim that he has the credential to be the US President. If anyone voted for Biden in 2020 because Biden has the experience to be the President of US, that was a false wish. In terms of competence, it is also false, Biden was the VP for President Obama eight years, at best he showed he was a competent VP, not much more.
Further, the US Constitution defined one-term of the Presidency is four years so that a new leader with new ideas and a new team may take a new approach for our nation. If we are counting on experience and competence to be the leader, then we should not criticize President Xi of China for seeking extended terms leading China. Obviously, President Xi has more experience and competence to lead China than anyone else in China.
Biden faces consistent low supporting level and risks losing the mid-term election in November, a major reason is he does not fully realize that he has limited bandwidth. With his age and “experience in DC” he spoke like a grandfather to the public that you just listen to me, and everything will be OK. I will solve the problems face the nation for you! President Reagan, without any DC experience, was a successful President because Reagan was humble: he spoke softly but carried a big stick. As a contrast, President Biden speaks loudly, claims victory before the battle is finished, but delivers little.
Another contrast between President Reagan and President Biden is President Reagan assembled a competent team, so his administration functioned. They realized the limited bandwidth of Reagan and compensate for it. Biden probably is over endowed with his personal experience so he assembled a team who are mostly “like-minded” with him. As such Biden is not able to make decisions or lead.
Case in mind, Biden is deeply concerned about inflation, as he should be. But the root cause of global inflation is a broken supply chain, the global economy needs a reboot from the COVID-19 Pandemic. His advisors are divided on Trump’s tariff war against China. Unfortunately, Biden has not made up his mind yet.
Biden blames domestic inflation on high gasoline price, but he has no tools to lower the price. It is obvious Ukraine war and subsequent sanctions against Russia caused global crude oil price rising. Of course, if Ukraine war drags on, global economy will keep slowing down till the “destruction of demand” (global recession) then global oil price will collapse. But is global recession a reasonable outcome for the world?
LA Times Opinion
News Analysis: Biden, who ran on competency and experience, is struggling to manage multiple crises
Eli Stokols, Courtney Subramanian
Fri, June 3, 2022, 3:30 AM
President Biden’s virtual meeting Wednesday with industry executives in the South Court Auditorium, a soundstage in the hulking office building adjacent to the White House, was held to highlight the administration’s response to the ongoing infant formula shortage.
But it backfired. The scripted event ended up highlighting just how slow the White House was to recognize the problem and underscoring persistent questions about how such a veteran administration has mismanaged major crises, not to mention the president’s public appearances.
Whether it is the last-minute scramble to avoid a diplomatically embarrassing boycott at next week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles or its faulty projections about inflation and struggles to control rising costs, the administration’s rocky responses to various challenges have given rise to new doubts about Biden’s promise to restore competency and stability to government.
The White House has been working to rebuild its credibility for nearly a year, ever since the botched U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan shattered the public’s confidence in Biden. But a relentless pandemic, the influx of migrants at the southern border and the president’s stalled legislative agenda have served to further calcify the public’s negative perceptions.
The trouble on Wednesday started when Biden said he didn’t “think anyone anticipated the impact of the shutdown of one facility.” He was then forced to concede that the company executives had just said they realized the potential for supply issues in February when Abbott shuttered its Michigan plant.
“They did, but I didn’t,” Biden said, betraying his frustration that the crisis, which the Food and Drug Administration reacted to immediately, wasn’t escalated to him until April — a glaring communication breakdown.
The administration’s effort to address the shortage, “Operation Fly Formula,” involves transporting millions of bottles of formula from other countries to the U.S., although the shipments won’t be on store shelves for another few weeks.
“You can’t control the hand you’re dealt, and this is one of the worst hands any president has ever been dealt,” said Chris Whipple, the author of a book on White House chiefs of staff and another on the Biden administration to be published later this year. The formula shortage, he continued, “is really a political problem because he took a real hit with the Afghanistan withdrawal, and this is not helping.
“Only the toughest decisions get to the Oval Office, and they don’t always get there that quickly,” Whipple said. “I don’t blame Biden for not knowing sooner. Somebody should have told him sooner. But he owns it, because it’s happening on his watch.”
The president’s approval rating still hasn’t recovered from the rough exit from Afghanistan. And nearly 10 months later, with Democrats’ slim congressional majorities in jeopardy this November, questions of competency persist as the White House is working strenuously to address domestic concerns about inflation and public health while managing a plethora of foreign policy complications, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Voters expected the world would calm down when Biden became president, that the chaos would be replaced with competence. If you look at the last year and a half, the world is still upside down,” said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster in Washington. “Trump’s chaos was personal chaos. This is mostly world chaos. But [Biden’s] ratings are low, and there’s not a sense that this is an administration in command. They’re a reactive administration instead of a proactive administration.”
With Russia’s war in Ukraine, last month’s Asia trip and the upcoming Group of 7 and NATO summits this month eating up much of the administration’s national security bandwidth, the administration has struggled to finalize its agenda and even the invite list for next week’s Summit of the Americas, a gathering of leaders from around the hemisphere the U.S. will host beginning Monday in Los Angeles. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, a top U.S. trading partner and one of Washington’s biggest allies on curbing migration, has yet to say whether he will attend.
Asked Wednesday about the “eleventh hour” nature of plans for the summit, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre laughed off the question, suggesting that last-minute decision-making was standard procedure in the West Wing — even amid a briefing dominated by tough questions about the administration’s response to the infant formula shortage.
“If you’ve been following this administration for the past year and a half, one week is not the eleventh hour when it comes to … how things move,” she said. “That is a lifetime away for us.”
The administration in recent weeks has begun an effort to demonstrate a clear focus on what is likely the top issue for voters ahead of November’s midterm elections: months of runaway inflation and the exorbitant cost of gasoline and other consumer goods.
But the administration’s messaging blitz has already been complicated by the fact that not everyone is on the same page. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen offered a mea culpa Tuesday during a CNN interview, acknowledging that she had failed to anticipate how long inflation would affect consumers.
“I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take,” Yellen said when asked about her 2021 comments — reflective of the administration’s overarching view — that inflation posed only a “small risk.”
Just hours earlier, Brian Deese, the president’s top economic advisor, refused to make a similar concession. Speaking to reporters at the White House, he ducked a question about whether he had been wrong to have predicted that inflation would be “transitory.” Instead, he parried, pointing out that inflation, by the persistent supply chain issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic, was being exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, which roiled global energy markets.
The White House struggle over inflation messaging dates to last fall and winter, a consequential period that reshaped the public mood about the direction of the country and Biden’s performance as president. Doug Sosnik, former longtime senior advisor to President Clinton, said decisions made during that period may have set the stage for a Democratic drubbing at the polls in November.
“There were a confluence of events that hit at the same time and changed the zeitgeist of how it’s going, and it’s settled in for half a year now,” Sosnik said.
During those six months, Biden declared victory over the COVID-19 pandemic in July, only for the globe to be clobbered by waves of new virus variants as the country endured shortages of essential at-home test kits. Thirteen U.S. troops and scores of Afghans were killed during August’s hasty and messy withdrawal from Kabul. His domestic agenda and signature piece of legislation — a sweeping social spending plan — died in December.
Topping off matters, as Americans got ready for the holidays, they were battered by a sting of pandemic-fueled supply chain bottlenecks and inventory shortages that sent the inflation rate soaring to over 6% by October and to a 40-year high, reaching 8% in April.
“From a policy standpoint and certainly from a messaging standpoint, the White House was behind the curve on dealing with inflation and talking about inflation,” Sosnik said. “And that was really a point when people began to take a turn of a more negative view.”
As the White House begins a month of ramped-up messaging aimed at emphasizing the overall strength of the economy and framing inflation as a “global problem,” voters’ minds may already be made up.
In the last four midterm elections, voters had decided by June how they were going to vote in November, Sosnik said. President Trump’s 39% percent job approval in February 2018, for example, stayed steady through November. The same went for President Obama in his two midterm campaigns.
A senior White House official acknowledged Thursday that the Biden administration’s ability to mitigate inflation in a globalized economy is limited, while insisting that the administration isn’t frustrated, even as it braces for a difficult election cycle.
“I wouldn’t say it’s frustration,” the official said. “Being president is hard, and you have to deal with a lot of difficult stuff.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
The Memo: Biden’s big problem is reacting, not directing
BY NIALL STANAGE – 06/03/22 11:19 AM ET
President Biden is facing a host of problems, but one overarching difficulty is undercutting his standing and could crater his party’s chances in November‘s midterm elections.
Biden seems caught in the posture of reacting to events rather than directing them. He increasingly seems to be appealing forlornly for action rather than making things happen.
For a commander in chief, it’s a perilous position.
The pattern is replicated in one way or another on virtually every one of the major issues facing the White House: inflation, gas prices, the infant formula shortage, immigration and even mass shootings.
Recently, that’s left Biden sounding plaintive rather than presidential.
On Wednesday, the president addressed the intertwined topics of rising gas prices and broad-based inflation. But his message amounted to an acknowledgement of his own relative powerlessness.
“There’s a lot going on right now, but the idea we’re going to be able to click a switch, bring down the cost of gasoline, is not likely in the near term. Nor is it with regard to food,” he said.
“We can’t take immediate action that I’m aware of yet to figure out how we’re bringing down the prices of gasoline back to $3 a gallon. And we can’t do that immediately with regard to food prices either,” he added.
To some, that might seem like a bracing or politically brave acknowledgement of reality.
But it is also cold comfort to the millions of Americans who feel a serious pinch every time they fill up their cars or grocery carts. And it certainly doesn’t answer the question of why discontented voters should back Democrats in November.
On Thursday evening, Biden made a prime-time address to the nation about gun violence, following a horrific stretch that has included the murder of 10 people in a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y.; the killing of 19 children and two adults at a school in Uvalde, Texas; and, on Wednesday, the killing of four people at a medical center in Tulsa, Okla.
But even on that issue, Biden is largely reduced to pleading with recalcitrant Republican members of Congress to back some kind of legislation around gun reform, however modest.
“We can’t fail the American people again,” Biden said, branding the anti-reform stance of most Republicans “unconscionable.”
Some Democrats believe a deal is possible on the most incremental measures, such as expanded background checks and red flag laws.
But Biden has seemed a bystander to that push, at least to the public.
“Let’s meet the moment. Let us finally do something,” he said. But he can offer no guarantee anything will happen.
The pattern is so dangerous for Biden in part because it cuts against his central appeal.
After the tempestuous four years of former President Trump, Biden was elected to put the nation back on an even keel — and also because his long experience as a senator and as former President Obama’s vice president purportedly made him savvy about how to best use the levers of power.
Instead, his main legislative push — the battle for the huge social spending bill known as Build Back Better — ran aground late last year amid Democratic divisions and recriminations. And it’s been almost all downhill from there.
To be sure, Biden does face many issues that are enormously difficult to resolve.
The obvious tool to fight inflation, for example, is the power to raise interest rates — a power wielded by the Federal Reserve rather than the White House.
Biden has promised to respect the independence of the Fed. He is therefore reduced to taking action around the edges, such as trying to strengthen America’s supply chains or talking up the likely impact upon inflation of policies he favors, such as reducing prescription drug prices or controlling child care costs.
Similarly, the immigration issue has defied presidents’ best efforts to resolve it for decades.
On the vexing issue of Title 42, Biden is caught between progressives who view the policy as an unjust instrument from the Trump era and moderates who fear lifting it is certain to increase border crossings from levels that are already historically high.
Gas prices are being driven up by a combination of vastly increased demand for oil as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and the knock-on effects from the war in Ukraine.
That said, it is not bad luck alone that has dogged the White House.
In recent days, the administration has struggled with its message on the infant formula crisis. Biden himself said Wednesday he was not aware of the problem until early April — even though the crisis has its roots in the closing of a Michigan manufacturing facility back in February.
The blizzard of difficulties, which has extended for months, has left Biden’s approval ratings in the doldrums. In the RealClearPolitics polling average Friday, about 54 percent of Americans disapproved of Biden’s job performance, while about 41 percent approved.
The White House appears to at least recognize the problem.
It has been increasingly leaning into an attempt to sell its economic record.
There is a case to be made there. The unemployment rate is very low, at just 3.6 percent, and there have been more than 8 million jobs created during Biden’s tenure. The latest jobs figures, released Friday morning, showed another 390,000 jobs had been created in May.
The president has also sought to paint the GOP as beholden to what he terms the “ultra-MAGA“ wing that surrounds Trump.
But if Biden is seeking to link the GOP to an unpopular former president, Republicans are trying to do the same to him.
The GOP draws parallels with former President Carter, who was rejected by voters after one term when issues like inflation and the Iran hostage crisis sapped the public’s belief in his leadership capabilities.
Biden will be desperate to avoid that fate.
But right now, he risks falling victim to the same kind of malaise.
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage.