Why Don't More Americans Approve of Joe Biden?
Let's think through the possibilities!
One of my smaller bemusements is reading Politico ledes about Joe Biden after he notches a foreign policy win. For example, earlier this week Turkey announced that it would support Sweden’s entry into NATO, putting a year-long irritant to rest. The decision strengthens the alliance just as Biden attends NATO’s annual summit in Vilnius. So, how did Politico cover it? Jonathan Lemire’s story on Tuesday carried the headline, “Biden hails Sweden’s impending NATO admission ahead of tense meeting with Ukraine.” The opening paragraph: “President Joe Biden on Tuesday celebrated Sweden’s impending admission to NATO while also preparing for a tense meeting with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who blasted the alliance for stalling the membership bid of his war-torn nation.”
That lede did not age well. Less than a day later Zelenskyy tweeted out, “A very good, powerful meeting with Mr. President Biden. The meeting was at least twice as long as planned, and it was as meaningful as it needed to be. If the protocol had not stopped the meeting, we would have talked even longer. All the topics. Long-term support. Weapons. Politics. We clearly see how to end this war with our common victory. Thank you, Mr. President!”
So much for a tense get-together!
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This fits a pattern with Lemire’s Politico stories. Whenever Biden gets some good foreign policy news it gets covered but inevitably is paired with some variation of “strains have been begun to show among the allies” or “both sides of the Atlantic fear that Russia is finding its footing” or “alarm has been increasing among allies” or something like that.
I don’t mean to pick on Lemire specifically here: he’s doing his job, it’s entirely fair for reporters to ask those kinds of questions or warn of incipient trends. But it does suggest that even when Biden accrues unambiguous policy wins, they are framed in the form of “but how long can it last?” takes. Politically, it devalues the win.
I bring this up because the hard-working staff here at Drezner’s World has noticed a flurry of recent stories along the lines of, “why isn’t Biden more popular?” emerging in the wake of a pretty robust economy. Last month the Washington Post’s Perry Bacon Jr. wrote, “for almost two years now, Joe Biden has been just as unpopular as Trump was, and at times even more so…. What’s harder to understand is why Biden is so unpopular.”