Some problems are mounting, but a majority see America on the right track

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There are times when a whole bunch of things seem to go wrong at once.

The cyberhacking shutdown of one of America’s most important pipelines, threatening fuel supplies along the East Coast, is stunning in its audacity and implications. How vulnerable must our energy grid be that a criminal group reported to be based in Russia could use ransomware to stop the oil flow from Texas to New York?

The border crisis may have faded from the headlines, but the problem of many thousands of unaccompanied minors has not.

The pandemic might be easing, but states are now turning back vaccine shipments because they’re having trouble giving the stuff away—and the plunging rates have led experts to say we may never reach herd immunity. What’s more, there’s a rising group of “school-hesitant” students who don’t want to go back even though it’s safe. 

Plus, the new jobs report the other day was a major disappointment.

Turns out Donald Trump has discovered the connecting thread:

“So now even our Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, is a junky [sic]. This is emblematic of what is happening to our Country. The whole world is laughing at us as we go to hell on our Borders, our fake Presidential Election and everywhere else!”

No, I don’t know what an allegedly doped-up horse has to do with our supposed national decline either. And leave it to Trump to ride that into another shot at the ostensibly rigged election he lost.

And yet a new poll casts doubt on the hell-in-a-handbasket theory.

The Associated Press survey yesterday gave President Biden a 63 percent approval rating. And 54 percent say the country is going in the right direction, the highest level since Trump’s first year in office.

Sure, the breakdown on that top number is 96 percent approval from Democrats, 23 percent from Republicans. And on handling the pandemic, 71 percent give Biden a thumbs-up, including 47 percent of Republicans.


Now maybe the poll is an outlier. A spate of recent polls, including one by Fox News, gave Biden approval numbers in the low- to mid-50s. But taken together, these snapshots certainly don’t suggest a president who is off to a terrible start.

Biden, somewhat on the defensive, spoke at the White House yesterday about the pipeline attack and insisted America is climbing out of “a deep, deep hole.” He played up the 1.5 million gain in jobs since he took office rather than the just 266,000 created in April, and stressed such efforts as the checks going to 16,000 restaurants under the Covid bill.

The White House is also making what looks like a last-ditch effort to compromise with Republicans before another go-it-alone venture on the Hill. Biden aides are signaling through the media that they’re ready to do a “traditional” infrastructure deal with the GOP—on such projects as roads and bridges–for a price tag far below $2 trillion.

If that happened, Politico reports, Biden would take everything else—health care, community college, family tax credits, tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy—and roll it into a party-line reconciliation bill. But even if Biden can get a bricks-and-mortar measure through the Senate, the more liberal House may balk at settling for a much smaller bill.

Clearly, the president has grown sensitive to criticism that the bipartisanship he promised is just an illusion.

The Republicans, for their part, are trying to “caricature” the Democratic Party “as extreme and out of touch with mainstream America,” the New York Times says. Among their targets: Packing the Supreme Court, the Green New Deal, and defunding the police.

Well, Biden isn’t going to pack the court, having punted by announcing a judicial study commission. His environmental proposals aren’t on the level of the AOC dream. And most Democrats don’t want to cut police budgets; in fact, Jim Clyburn is talking about compromising on such measures as “qualified immunity” for officers.

In pushing a combined $6 trillion in new spending, the president is pursuing a far more left-wing agenda than he pushed in the campaign. But the GOP’s problem is that giving out goodies is pretty popular. That’s why they’re chasing such fringe movements as defunding the police.

It will take just a few setbacks in a few months to convince a majority of the public that the country is actually on the wrong track. A lot of people are still hurting. But for now, that argument is as lame as the horse that may not have deserved the top spot at Churchill Downs. 


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