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Liz Peek: Gloomy Americans give Biden low marks on Afghanistan, COVID and economy

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The mood of the nation is dark.

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You can see it in the University of Michigan consumer confidence index, which plunged to 70.3 in August, down 11.0 points from July. That’s down to levels not seen since the Great Recession.    

The gloom is apparent in retail sales, which slid more than one percent in July from the prior month, the second drop in the past three months. 

It’s also showing up in President Joe Biden’s collapsing approval ratings, which have turned negative; that’s not shocking given that 61% of the nation thinks we are on the wrong track, according to Real Clear Politics. 

Imagine – the country is profoundly discouraged even as the stock market hits new highs, jobs are plentiful and consumers are wealthier than ever before.

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This is unprecedented, but hardly surprising. President Biden is failing, and everyone knows it. They also know his decline will hurt this country. It already has.

The arrogance of our feckless president led to our humiliating exit from Afghanistan, defeated by a band of illiterate fanatics. Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently predicted a resurgence of terror groups like al Qaeda in Afghanistan, encouraged by the vacuum left by departing U.S. troops. Like President Obama, who derided ISIS as the “JV,” Biden will dismiss the terror threat until he no longer can, unwilling to take responsibility for the mayhem he has loosed upon the world. 

Most offensive is that Biden, as he turns his back on the media and refuses to answer questions about the disastrous decisions that led to the deaths of 13 service members, is turning his back on the American people.  

How dare he?

The State Department has confirmed to Congress that American citizens are now being held hostage in Afghanistan, sitting on airplanes blocked by the Taliban at Mazar-i-Sharif airport. The same Taliban that the White House has said would allow our people to leave. 

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What will Biden do to secure the release of those Americans? How much U.S. taxpayer money will he throw at Taliban terrorists to undo the damage he has done?

The story of Afghanistan is not yet done; the White House knows it, and is desperate to move on. But the Taliban is not Uncle Joe’s only problem.

Americans are also souring on Biden’s handling of COVID-19 and rightly so.

Last November, newly-elected president Joe Biden warned of a “very dark winter” ahead but claimed: “We can get this virus under control, I promise you.” As he prepared to take office, he said he had a plan, which included “bold action” to fight the pandemic. 

Biden’s plan has not panned out, and that dark winter has returned. The pandemic has struck back, with new cases surging to levels not seen since last January. Deaths, too, have spiked higher, now reaching eight times the low recorded on July 7. 

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Biden is not responsible for the Delta variant, which has caused the renewed surge in infections, any more than President Trump was responsible for the arrival of COVID-19. But Biden’s number one job as president was to get Americans vaccinated. Today, only 63% of adults have been inoculated. That is a failure, and that is on the White House. 

Astonishingly, 70% of adults in the EU have taken the shots. Despite the incessant bureaucratic wrangling of the EU, they are getting the job done better than the White House. 

Democrats attribute the U.S. shortfall on right-leaning loons who refuse to “follow the science,” and indeed there are many folks on both the right and the left who don’t trust the government. But the White House politicized the undertaking from the start, with leading Democrats undermining Americans’ confidence in “Trump’s vaccine”, and then playing the blame game, singling out Republicans who expressed doubts about the shots. That is not how you bring the country together for an important purpose.

Most damaging was the White House’s effort to underplay the surge in “breakthrough” infections. Eager to push the shots, Biden and his health advisors dismissed reports of fully vaccinated people getting sick until there were so many re-infected folks making headlines that they had to admit the bad news: the vaccines did not prevent you from getting the virus.

This dishonesty caused a significant drop in trust and confidence. The White House was slow to explain that yes, you could still get infected, but the odds of not getting seriously ill were significantly better for those who had been vaccinated. Instead of honesty, or science, they pushed politics.

A new Washington Post/ABC poll shows Biden’s approval rating on handling COVID down 10 points from late June. That’s not surprising. 

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Biden’s approval ratings are also under water for his handling of the economy.  Job gains, especially last month, were disappointing, and inflation is taking a bite out of workers’ pay. Home prices are soaring, leading to higher rents, and rising wages are creating an enduring cycle of price hikes. 

Biden dismisses inflation as a blip caused by supply chain blockages, but shortages appear to be increasing rather than on the decline, especially for essential products like semiconductors.

Meanwhile, Democrats hope to push through their giant spending programs, which will likely boost inflation. Without a popular president to lead the effort, voters will be even more wary about the budget-busting proposals essential to “Biden’s agenda.” 

For many reasons, consumers are anxious, and that translates into a slowing of spending and of growth, which we are seeing now. Third-quarter expansion, based on the Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now platform, is forecast to drop to 3.7%, from an earlier estimate of over 6% at the beginning of August. 

A lot is going wrong for Biden. Maybe the worst news is this: a recent Emerson College poll finds that in a possible 2024 match-up, Trump would narrowly beat Biden, 47% to 46%. That says it all.

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