Anand Giridharadas wrote a piece for The Atlantic asserting that Biden has been moving leftward. This may only be a short term impression only because the GOP is trying to find its way after the previous guy is gone and before he may be indicted. The real problem lies with Joe Manchin.
Biden, after all, was a conservative Democrat who has exuded personal decency more than he has pushed for structural decency. One conservative publication labeled him “the senator from MBNA” for his friendliness to credit-card companies. He conducted the Clarence Thomas–Anita Hill hearings in a way that hurt Hill, for which he later expressed regret. He voted for the Iraq War and eulogized the segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond. He began his 2020 campaign telling wealthy donors that, in his vision, “nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”
But then Biden sold the country on a massive rescue package that his erstwhile rival Sanders has called “the single most significant piece of legislation for working-class people that has been passed since the 1960s.” He quickly followed that with an infrastructure proposal that includes everything from roads to a strengthened safety net for caregivers, and focuses on redressing the harms of climate change and the racist urban planning of the past. Biden plans to finance it partially through a tax increase on the corporations he was once better known for protecting. There have been a slew of executive orders, many of real import, as well as gestures like standing up for Amazon workers seeking to unionize.
The conversations I’ve had in recent weeks have painted a portrait of an improbable coming-together of people and forces: a moderate president, with an ascendant progressive movement at his back and at his throat, facing a once-in-a-generation window of opportunity. It’s still early. It remains to be seen if this momentum will continue, if the infrastructure plan musters the votes, if the ungainly Sanders-to-Manchin coalition holds. But for now, a capital that has been defined in recent years by the absence of useful action bubbles with generative possibility. And many of us who thought we knew what a Biden presidency would look like, and didn’t expect much from it, are suddenly asking ourselves: How did we get him so wrong?
Currently, 59% approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 39% disapprove. Biden’s job approval rating has increased modestly from 54% in March. Biden’s job approval is comparable to several of his predecessors – including Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush – and much higher than Donald Trump’s in April 2017.
Views of Biden and his administration highlight several stark contrasts with opinions of his predecessor. Far more Americans say they like the way Biden conducts himself as president (46%) than say they don’t (27%), while another 27% have mixed feelings about his conduct. Similarly, 44% say he has changed the tone of political debate for the better, while 29% say he has made the tone of debate worse (27% say he has not changed it much).
On both questions, there are sizable differences in views of Biden and Trump. Last year, just 15% said they liked the way Trump conducted himself as president, which was little changed from telephone surveys dating to 2017. In both 2020 and 2019, majorities (55% on each occasion) said Trump had changed political debate in the U.S. for the worse.
However, the share of the public saying they agree with Biden on important issues is little different from the share saying that about Trump last year. Fewer than half of Americans (44%) say they agree with Biden on all or nearly all (13%) or on many (31%) of the important issues facing the country; 25% say they agree with Biden on a few issues, while 29% say they agree with him on almost no issues. Last year, 42% of Americans said they agreed with Trump on nearly all (19%) or many issues (23%).
One for the historians:
In the long run, Trump was just another Manafort dictator-client