The struggling Biden campaign

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The Biden campaign is floundering – directionless, unable to formulate a coherent second term vision and battered by a series of national polls that place his public standing at historic low levels for an incumbent president seeking re-election.

Bidenomics, the president’s economic policy once heavily touted as the centerpiece of his administration, was a monumental flop and has since been abandoned replaced by a strategy of an all out attack on former President Donald Trump.

Biden’s campaign rally and fundraiser – masquerading as his State of the Union speech – brought greater clarity to his new approach, with repeated references to “my predecessor” as the greatest threat to the Republic since the Civil War.

Granted, Trump has given Biden a treasure trove of wild apocalyptic and often unhinged rhetorical rants to work with, but is it enough?

Biden’s State of the Union address was pitched directly toward relieving the anxiety of his party’s base, a plea to put aside their doubts and misgivings and cease fretting about his physical and mental strengths.

Polling, however, paints a far grimmer portrait – 39 percent overall approval and rankings below 30 percent approval for his handling of immigration and the economy, while nearly 70 percent of Americans believe the nation is heading in the wrong direction.

More telling is the finding that a stunning 80 percent believe he is too old and his cognitive strength too diminished to effectively serve a second term.

He has trailed Trump in matchup polling since last September – albeit often within the margin of error – but his ongoing failure to overtake or surpass the former president is a clear indication of a seriously weakened incumbent.

Biden also faces a restive and alienated progressive wing of his party, angry over his unqualified support for Israel in its war with Hamas and for his administration inching closer to Trump era restrictions on immigration at the southern border.

As opposition to his immigration policy grew in intensity until it became the overriding issue on the public’s mind, the administration was thrown on the defensive and has failed to regain the initiative.

It careened from denial, stubborn refusal to describe it as a crisis while insisting against all evidence that “the border is secure.” The administration position became untenable as Democratic mayors in cities like New York, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles pleaded for federal assistance to offset the enormous drain on their budgets to cope with the influx of tens of thousands of migrants and the economic, social and public safety crises it caused.

Either fearful of offending immigration advocacy groups or simply at a loss for how to deal with it, the administration did nothing and handed Republicans and Trump a potent campaign issue, accusing Biden of disastrously repealing the former president’s policies and opening the door to more than seven million immigrants.

Three years into his first term and facing re-election in a bitterly polarized nation, Biden’s tentative steps toward enhanced border control has infuriated the progressives on the left and further reinforced Democrats reputation as the party of open borders.

The president owns the issue now. By taking three years to acknowledge it and act decisively, rather than blaming others, the president has lost credibility.

While he points to a declining inflation rate, job creation and low unemployment, the president’s efforts to mitigate the economic harm inflicted in the early stages of his administration have been largely unsuccessful.

While cold statistics indicating recovery are noteworthy, the reality of significantly higher prices for everything from cars to supermarket eggs is even colder.

Declining inflation, low unemployment and job creation are small comfort to consumers in the supermarket checkout line hoping the final tally isn’t too far into triple digits.

The blame Trump strategy, along with warnings he’d impose an authoritarian government and deny basic fundamental rights to Americans, may pay off for Biden.

Turning it into a referendum on Trump rather than Biden worked four years ago. It may again.

Copyright 2024 Carl Golden, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University in New Jersey. You can reach him at cgolden1937@gmail.