The experienced Democrat, experienced in the habits and customs of political Washington, had won the 2020 election on the promise of “healing” the nation, led for four years by Donald Trump.
But this week has proven yet again that appeasement is a long way off and Joe Biden, rightly or not, is being blamed for it.
First proof, the disorderly response to the shortage of baby milk, which emptied supermarket shelves and worried parents.
The administration was already hurt by the anger caused by inflation and the difficulties in supplying cars or building materials.
She must also manage the protests against the organization at the last minute of what must be a major regional forum in Los Angeles, the Summit of the Americas. A few days before its start, we don’t even know which heads of state will come.
And now it’s the babies – or at least their parents – who are joining the ranks of the malcontents.
– Contradicts –
This infant milk problem started a long way from Joe Biden. In February, the giant Abbott, which controls 40% of the American market, closed a factory and launched a product recall.
The ensuing shortage confronted parents with an unlikely question for the world’s richest country: how to feed infants?
To reassure the Americans, the White House organized a summit on Wednesday devoted to the crisis, with the president and representatives of the manufacturers.
The meeting was expected to showcase the forceful response from the US executive – which has notably eased import rules and mobilized an airlift.
But the communication operation turned sour when Joe Biden tried to get officials to admit that no one could have anticipated the magnitude of this crisis.
The industrialists contradicted him.
One of them thus assured to have known “from the start” that this factory closing “would be a very serious event”.
– Baptism by fire –
The administration’s ability to navigate this mountain of bad news has been complicated by changes in its communication.
Jen Psaki, a highly respected spokesperson, gave way to her assistant Karine Jean-Pierre, who is experiencing a real baptism of fire.
She was bombarded with questions this week during her traditional daily press briefings.
Why didn’t the president realize the seriousness of the baby milk shortage sooner? Does he admit that he was wrong in saying that inflation would be temporary? Why, after the Texas killings and previous massacres, isn’t he himself pushing senators to act on guns?
Karine Jean-Pierre found herself on the defensive.
Asked about the absence of a list of guests at the Summit of the Americas, less than a week before its start, the spokeswoman responded Wednesday with a frank admission.
“If you’ve been following this administration for the last year and a half, a week in advance is not last minute for us,” she admitted. A week is “an eternity for us”.
– Beach –
Joe Biden’s approval rating is below 50% since last year, and his party is in serious danger of losing control of Congress to Republicans in the November election.
Even an increase of 6 points, in a Reuters/Ipsos poll published this week, only allowed him to reach a modest 42% satisfaction.
The cause of many of his misfortunes would sound familiar to some of his predecessors in the Oval Office: Without a strong majority in Congress, he doesn’t have as much power as his fellow citizens imagine.
On Thursday, the president made an impassioned call to ban the sale of assault rifles. But, according to observers, he has little chance of succeeding in convincing his Republican opponents.
As soon as his speech was over, he took off for a weekend at the beach.
On Friday, he celebrates the 71st birthday of his wife Jill Biden in their Delaware home, far from the bustle of the capital.
But Washington – and its many problems – will be there to welcome him when he returns.