Joe Biden should copy Barack Obama’s strategy to win a second term, writes Never Trump Republican David Frum. He notes that Obama similarly had weak polling in the year leading up to his re-election.
“Whatever your theory, it should take into account a curious coincidence: how closely Biden’s approval numbers have tracked the numbers from former President Barack Obama’s first term. Obama’s numbers slumped in the second half of his third year, 2011. In the middle of that October, his disapproval number reached 41 percent, not very far off from Biden’s 37 percent at the same point in October 2023,” Frum writes in The Atlantic. “The world of 2011 was a very different place from the world of 2023. The job market was weak, not red hot the way it is now. Immigrants were returning home, not arriving by the millions. China’s economy was booming, not slumping.”
2011 Was a Different World
At the same time, Ukraine had not been invaded by Russia. The Obama administration looked at Vladimir Putin as a potential partner and not as a mortal enemy. Biden traveled to Russia and met with Putin and hailed business opportunities in Russia for Boeing and other American companies.
“A Russian ― the chairman of a Russian organization … said that there was reason for American companies to be here because the markets are here and named some other reasons why it was in the interest of American companies,” Biden told Putin at their 2011 meeting in Moscow. “Russia has the best engineers in the world. Russia has intellectual capital. Russia is a great nation. Your titanium lets the planes fly that you buy.”
China had yet to fully embark on its policy of military expansion that came into full bloom in Obama’s second term. The Arab Spring revolutions had yet to metastasize into ISIS, and Iran’s proxies had yet to achieve the sort of dominance that has brought the Middle East to the brink of war in 2023.
The world today is different from 2011 in a lot of ways.
Similarities Between 2011 and 2023
However, Frum argues that Republicans ridiculed Obama’s competence, but he sees similarities between then and now.
“Yet if the external facts diverged, the internal dynamics of U.S. politics 12 years ago bore many similarities to those of today. Republican leaders in the House faced a mutiny from their radical fringe. Then, as now, that fringe was impelled by conspiratorial theories: birtherism in those days, elaborate fantasies about Ukraine and the president’s scapegrace son today,” Frum writes. “Speaker John Boehner barely held on to his job—at the price of a battle over the debt ceiling in May 2011 that pushed the United States to the edge of default.”
Frum continued, “Maybe it’s time for an alternative theory of the Obama-Biden third-year slump. Maybe the problem inheres not in the president but in the nature of the coalition a Democratic president heads.”
Biden’s Age a Lingering Issue
A noted difference between Obama and Biden is the latter’s age has become increasingly apparent even to the most disengaged voter. Obama always was sharp with his tongue and quick with his wit. The Biden of 2011 still seemed with it, if not oafish; however, the Biden of today is not the Biden of 12 years ago. He looks frail and often confused.
A Monmouth University poll released last month showed that 76% of voters said they thought Biden was too old. Biden’s age is not going away as an issue; however, Donald Trump’s advanced age could somewhat lessen that disadvantage. But Trump does not seem as haggard as Biden, which works to his advantage. Age likely will be an important issue next year.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.
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