Unfortunately for my readers I was in the midst of a long hiatus from my blog during the run up to and after the 2020 Presidential election. It should come as no surprise that I supported the election of Joe Biden over Donald Trump. With that said, I did not and do not have the highest of hopes for Biden, however, he brings experience to the table and often plays “the adult in the room.” Many of his decisions are considered, though often wrong. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates once wrote that Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” That criticism may have been forgivable during Biden’s long career in the U.S. Senate, but it often played out while Biden was Vice President. During deliberations about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad Pakistan, Biden was against it. He felt it was too risky. But during the 2020 campaign he had one major thing going for him—he was not Donald Trump.
In historical terms, Trump appears near the bottom in survey after survey of presidency rankings. Personally, I would rank him dead last, but perhaps the biographies I have read of Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan were a little too generous towards their subjects. They are the presidents that most often rank just below Trump. Certainly, Trump is the worst president in my lifetime by a longshot. Trump was completely and utterly ill-suited for the office of the presidency. Not only did he come to the office with zero political and foreign policy experience, but he also failed to adapt to the role and demands of the office.
Trump’s first year in office was packed with critical and devasting mistakes, both domestic and in foreign policy. This blog documented many of those moments. One could argue that was the price Trump had to pay for such a steep learning curve from lack of experience. However, by the end of his second year in office, things were getting worse, not better. Those inside the administration were so concerned about his actions and behavior, they secretly tried to thwart what they called his worst instincts and quietly considered invoking the 25th Amendment.
My last post about Trump before my long hiatus from my blog was on his sudden withdrawal of American troops from Syria a month after the marking of his second year office. Without any advanced notice to allies nor his own advisers, and going against many of their wishes, he irrationally announced he had “defeated ISIS in Syria.” It was far from true. Just a few months before, the UN estimated there were between 20,000 and 30,000 ISIS members in Syria. Trump’s decision led to Secretary of Defense James Mattis resignation the next day. At that time it was very clear Trump’s actions were getting worse, not better.
Trump’s presidency would continue to sink. He is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. The first impeachment bears directly on events currently going on now in Europe with Russia poised to invade Ukraine. With Joe Biden being his likely opponent in the 2020 election, Trump attempted to blackmail Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to get dirt on his upcoming rival. Trump threatened to block key military equipment to fend off Russian attacks unless the Ukrainian president produced information that could be used to smear Biden. It was a disgusting abuse of power, and one history will not be kind to Trump on.
Fortunately, by the time of 2020’s elections, voters did what Congress refused to do—vote Trump out of office. Trump unfortunately would not go with dignity. He manufactured stories that the election had been rigged, that he in fact really won, and incited his supporters to go to the U.S. Capitol Building to “fight” which they did—storming the capital and violently assaulting security guards on January 6th at the very moment the presidential election was to be certified. For that, Trump was impeached a second time just before he was forced to leave office.
After four years of Trump in office, Biden has been a welcome break. There have been plenty of missteps in Biden’s first full year in office but gone are the acidity and ill-intent of the Trump years. Biden’s mistakes are honest, and as I said above, his decisions are considered, even if they turn out to be wrong.
Biden’s worst mistake thus far is in Afghanistan. Before Biden came to office, Trump signed an agreement with the Taliban with a deadline of May 1st, 2021, for America’s withdrawal from the country. Biden and his administration failed to predict just how quickly the situation in Afghanistan would deteriorate. It was a repeat of the sad ending of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam with scenes of civilians clamoring to get on flights. The only difference this time, the scenes took place at the Kabul airport instead of at a U.S. embassy. It was a dark moment, and Biden’s only saving grace is that his predecessors were for ending the war in Afghanistan, and once the situation deteriorated, the administration worked hard to get as many civilians as possible out of the country.
When it comes to COVID-19, the Biden Administration has for the most part followed the science. He inherited a chaotic vaccine program with no plan on how to distribute the vaccines that had been ordered. Gone from the White House were the imbecilic and dangerous comments about injecting disinfectant into the body or using ultraviolet lights internally. Biden also was able to push through another stimulus package worth $1.9 trillion to ease economic hardships. There have been a couple resurgences of COVID under Biden’s tenure thus far, but they were largely out of his control due to the fact people have been refusing to get vaccinated. COVID is still a drag on the economy, but there are signs the economy is slowly recovering. However, inflation’s rise is putting strains on the average family as the price of food and gas increase.
Biden achieved a major success in his first year office. It is something that his predecessors have failed to achieve, and that is the passage of a massive infrastructure bill. This was achieved by garnering bipartisan support. The measure, once it goes into effect, will begin a building spree even larger than the historic New Deal. It was no small achievement. It is a well overdue $1.2 trillion investment in transportation, water, energy, broadband, and rehabilitation of America’s natural resources. It is the foundation of future economic expansion.
Lastly, President Biden seems to be rising to the occasion when it comes to Russia massing troops on Ukraine’s border that is set to shatter the peace of Europe on a scale not seen since World War II. This story has not been fully written yet, but Biden has been clear to Putin at every step along the way, that there will be severe consequences if an invasion occurs. Biden has done a textbook example at complicating and discrediting Putin’s disinformation campaign. From the outset of his campaign, Biden had labeled Putin a “killer.” This was a vastly different tune from his three predecessors who always seemed to be bested by the ex-KGB agent at the head of a nuclear power.
Biden picked a difficult time in America’s history to run for the highest office. Time will tell how successful he will ultimately be. He might not have been anyone’s first choice to be president, but at least he is not Donald Trump.