Veteran journalist Al Hunt feels President Joe Biden’s time in the White House has been plagued by “stupid miscues” and “fumbled” opportunities as prominent Democrats now have a sense of unease regarding whether the president is competent enough to do the job.
In a column for The Hill, the former Bloomberg News editor and columnist argued a recent Quinnipiac poll that shows Biden’s negative ratings on competency go to the “core of his presidency” after he was billed as a capable alternative to his predecessor.
“Unease also is reflected in background conversations with a few Democrats, strategists, donors and officeholders. This is not just the passions of the moment, they fear, but a deeper concern that this White House may not be up to daunting challenges,” Hunt wrote in the column headlined, “Biden administration competency doubts increase.”
“The most current, hardly the only, concern of Democrats is over the multitrillion-dollar social spending measure,” Hill wrote. “For Biden, and most congressional Democrats, this is do-or-die, certainly for next year’s elections — and probably for 2024 too.”
Hunt feels Biden’s White House has “fumbled both the outside and inside role” after publicly allowing the “agenda to be dominated by the initial size of the package — $3.5 trillion” and privately by a “problematic” effort to get the House Democratic Caucus on board.
However, the politically important multitrillion-dollar social spending measure isn’t the only thing Biden has botched, according to Hunt.
“The competence issue really flared with Afghanistan, not the U.S. withdrawal — the only sensible course — but the failure to anticipate the speed with which the American-backed government and military collapsed,” Hunt wrote.
“The president compounded his problems by declaring his military advisers never counseled him to retain a small force; in subsequent congressional testimony, the generals contradicted him,” Hunt continued. “This enabled right-wingers to accuse the president of dishonesty and even to raise the specter of scandal. It was a self-inflicted wound for Biden.”
The veteran journalist feels the White House has also been slow to make crucial appointments, failed to appoint an envoy to Afghanistan, took too long to nominate an ambassador to China and appears to focus on diversity instead of quality when it comes to appointees.
Hunt noted that many Democrats have pondered, “Where is [Vice President] Kamala Harris?” He wrote that others feel Biden set her up to fail with “near-impossible tasks or ones that will be taken over by others” when progress is needed.
“This is especially worrisome as Democrats look ahead, concerned that an 81-year-old incumbent won’t run for reelection and Harris isn’t starting to burnish the credentials to step up,” Hunt wrote.
He also dinged the Biden administration for “stupid miscues on small matters,” such as dumping H .R. McMaster from the board of the U.S. Military Academy, despite being qualified, simply because he was a Trump appointee.
Hunt said a possible “light at the end of the dark tunnel” amid Democrats’ “pervasive gloom” would be if Congress passes domestic initiatives, manage to counter “Republican voter suppression efforts” and Biden can also combat COVID-19 and fix the economy.