DANIEL VAUGHAN: Biden is failing the moment

One of the campaign theories Joe Biden ran on in 2020 was that he was a “return to normalcy.” That narrative was to place him in contrast to the perceived “chaos” of the Trump administration.

The tactic had a historical basis in Warren Harding’s presidency: America in the early 20th century was sick of the excesses of the Wilson administration. Biden claimed similar with Trump.

The problem with the return to normalcy theory and with Biden’s administration is that we’re not in an ordinary moment. Our politics aren’t healthy, the economy isn’t typical, and the impact of the pandemic ensures everything is irregular.

Biden initially charged out with the idea he was Franklin Delano Roosevelt 2.0, and now that’s fallen apart. He claims to have a steady hand on the economy, but he’s letting inflation slip ever higher. At the same time, Biden commits to spending more money on liberal wish-list items.

Biden claimed to provide leadership for the moment, but in reality, he’s sitting idly by while there are genuine issues at stake. 

We’re not in an ordinary political moment, because of the pandemic and the unsettling it has provided. We’re watching a wholesale resorting of the entire U.S. economy as we figure out how to emerge post-pandemic. These situations require a vigilant hand from a president who essentially isn’t there.

Take inflation, for example. I’ve written about the dangers inflation poses numerous times. You’re undoubtedly experiencing it yourself when you go to the store or if you’ve tried buying a car or house. It’s a natural feeling, it’s an active threat, and we know expansive government spending will drive it higher.

We’re in a situation that requires the president to see the threat and, at a minimum, not exacerbate it by tossing gasoline on that threat. But the infrastructure and “human-infrastructure” spending bills by Democrats are precisely that. Even if you believe inflation is a transitory issue, inflaming this momentary pop in increased prices is not an intelligent policy.

Inflation eats at every American’s paychecks and makes them poorer as a result. Biden is sitting idly by.

Or take the border; we’ve seen an explosion of people flooding the southern border trying to cross over. It’s more people than we’ve seen in any recent year, and it’s directly because of Biden’s policies and statements.

We need Biden to step up on the border and take action, both for border security and to protect the lives of people living in the middle of a humanitarian crisis at the southern U.S. border. You can’t look at those people, send Vice President Kamala Harris down for a brief photo-op, and pretend nothing is happening.

That’s what we’re getting, though. The “kids-in-cages” crowd is interestingly quiet as Biden has tossed this to Harris or Congress for blame. But we know Biden is directly to blame for a lot of this.

Perhaps the most damning thing of all is Biden’s lackluster response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He sat idly by while federal agencies kneecapped the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, one of the most significant accomplishments of Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed.”

Now, he’s arguing that vaccine hesitancy is the fault of Republicans or social media companies like Facebook.

Some Republicans are repeating, nearly line-for-line, information on vaccines that Biden and Harris said in 2020. The unvaccinated are a bipartisan group spanning all races, ages, and beliefs. But, somehow, we’re supposed to blame one group for this plethora of problems.

The time to act on that was in the moment when the FDA and CDC paused Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot solution to COVID-19. That product was getting geared up to help vaccinate poor and rural communities because it is easiest to use while providing the same protection.

Biden could have intervened — with agencies who paused the Johnson & Johnson vaccination, even while deciding nothing need to happen to the shot and there was no threat — but Biden sat idly by.

And the story goes on and on.

The problem of the Biden presidency is that it’s idle in moments when it should be active and active in moments when it should be idle. That’s not a return to normalcy — it’s incompetence. It’s the politics of a group of people who don’t know how to respond to any situation, but they do know how to paint a pretty picture for the press.

The country needs active leadership because we’re emerging from a real crisis. And if we’re not careful, the incompetency of this administration will inflame issues like inflation, which can trigger a second crisis. The incompetency on the Johnson & Johnson vaccination situation has already cost us time, and potentially lives, in response to COVID-19.

The failures of the Biden administration have actual weight. This is not a front-porch campaign where Biden can sit there and ride the polls. He needs to take action on the real threats.

However, I don’t suspect he will because that’s not been the M.O. of the Biden administration, and they don’t seem to have the capacity to act in that way even if they wanted. Elections have consequences, and Biden isn’t responding to the moment we’re in – he’s responding to the moment he wishes we existed.