N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
Until recently, Joe Biden struggled with the image of the weak leader who had to endure the doom and gloom of the world without coming to grips with it. This resulted in a satisfaction score of just 38 percent, a record low for which you have to go back to the period of President Harry Truman (1945-1953).
It turned somewhat. Democratic Senator Jo Manchin changed his mind and voted in favour of a historic (but weakened on his request) climate plan worth $385 billion. And with the elimination of Al Qaeda leader Al-Zawahiri, Biden enjoyed some success. Although it is quite clear, its leader is death but Al Qaeda is alive. Biden also announced an additional $550 million for series of arms deliveries to Ukraine. In total, the US provided $8.8 billion in military aid to Ukraine. An amount that could soften the desolate harsh conditions millions of Americans have to live with.
Yet it is far from clear whether a more dynamic Biden at the 8 November Midterm elections can help his party members achieve a satisfactory election result. Under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the elimination of a terrorist leader turned out to lead to a temporary surge in popularity at best. Then came another international crisis and the success was quickly forgotten. This time will probably be no different, especially now US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on a heavily loaded visit to Taiwan, that raised the tensions between the superpowers US and China.
Perhaps more importantly, both the Midterm elections and the 2024 presidential elections will be determined by the theme of purchasing power and high energy prices. Biden is saying, he is doing everything he can to stop the war in Ukraine, but if he does not succeed in that in the coming months -and it seems very likely- Russian President Putin and not the President of the US will determine how much a gallon of gasoline costs at the pump in the US.