Biden’s SOTU

By Andrew Colliton

On the night of February 9th, the Georgetown Bipartisan Coalition assembled to review the 2023 State of the Union Address and rate the job performance of President Joe Biden. The discussion began on the Address, which brought up the twitter-famous Social Security interjection from Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the relative cohesiveness of the presentation, and the perceptible adoption of an America First populist messaging. Unsurprisingly, the debate quickly transformed into a discussion of the successes and failures of his first two years in office.

The phenomenon of Joe Biden is downright unique for a modern President. When asked about their overall opinion of Joe Biden, answers tended to be weakly approve or weakly disapprove and this ambivalent opinion is replicated throughout the American populace. Words like mediocre, status quo, stable, and technocratic define the perception of the Biden administration. When asked what the Biden Administration has done, the group could only muster the confirmation of Justice Jackson, Aid to Ukraine, and some infrastructure funding; hardly a memorable or particularly controversial two years. But with time we remembered the groundbreaking gun safety legislation, the unification of the democratic West against Russia, rejoining the WHO and the Paris Agreement, public criticism of the Uighur Genocide and the embargo of Xinjiang, the Inflation Reduction Act, the ending of the COVID emergency through a highly successful vaccination campaign, the Respect for Marriage Act, and the reduction of the federal deficit. Biden and the Democratic Congress achieved much headway during the first two years, but the question remains why the American public has forgotten about their policy progress. 

Soon, the criticism began rolling in. The hurried pullout from Afghanistan in 2021 which resulted in the Taliban taking back control in a matter of weeks, the stranding of thousands of US-friendly civilian workers, and the desertion of billions of dollars in advanced military equipment was front of mind. This was a major gripe for Bipartisan Coalition members, who criticized Biden for abandoning an unstable regime in Afghanistan without notifying our allies and blaming others for the catastrophic results. One student who took a class about the Politics of Afghanistan last semester noted that Joe Biden had been a supporter of leaving Afghanistan since 2008 and that the United States promoted a government which was not supported by the Afghan people and participated in immense corruption. He conceded that not all of the blame for Afghanistan lies with Biden, especially with the flawed logic of our initial intervention in 2001 and the Trump Administration’s 2020 Peace Deal with the Taliban done without outside consent. Still Biden should have handled the volatile situation better and prevented much of the losses suffered, instead he was trigger happy which caused serious damage to America’s reputation abroad. 

eyond Afghanistan, the high level of inflation was another major source of criticism especially around the amount of federal stimulus money pumped into the economy and the renomination of Jerome Powell as the Chair of the Federal Reserve. The consensus was that the economic challenges facing the US are not unique and is an overall global post-pandemic trend, but Biden could have been more careful with his economic policy to avert the worst impacts of the price pinch for Americans. The idea that the United States does not spend its money well, whether during the Biden or under any previous administrations, was a factor in the dissatisfaction because of the high level of waste and inappropriate allocation of resources which became obvious with the COVID stimulus plans. 

Despite the achievements and the criticisms of the Biden Administration, the room was unanimous in their hope that Joe Biden will not be the 2024 Democratic nominee. Joe Biden’s age is the main factor in the desire for a new nominee, but he remains the only established democratic candidate for the 2024 presidential election. Members brainstormed potential primary challengers including Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Former First Lady Michelle Obama. None of these candidates hold all three of the main properties: the desire to run, electability and personal charisma. The Republican side looks to be a showdown between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and it is way too early to parse that out. The biggest fear expressed by the participants in the roundtable was that 2024 will be the geriatric Biden-Trump repeat of 2020, just 4 years older. 

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