Biden Is Not Trump. After a Year, That’s No Longer Enough.

The latest news from The Wall Street Journal. Hillary Clinton is rumored to be considering running for president again in order to “fill a leadership gap in the party,”

Even more head-spinning—Clinton is starting to sound sensible. Traditional Republicans saw a Clinton presidency to be a victory for Left. Clinton could be Democrats’ best chance to win the middle ground. Democrats must do some “careful thinking about what wins elections, and not just in deep-blue districts where a Democrat and a liberal Democrat…is going to win,” she told MSNBC.

To quote Ross Perot’s running mate James Stockdale in the 1992 vice presidential debate, “Who am I? “Why am I here?” Well, we’re here at this juncture because Biden forgot Bill Clinton’s lessons from his 1992 and 1996 presidential victories—and from his Arkansas governorship, where he honed his folksy and successful approach.

Elected at age 32, the so-called “Boy Governor” tacked too far to the left, was booted from office two years later, recalibrated in a “third way” direction and then served 10 years as chief executive in Little Rock, before going on to win the presidency. This column is not supposed to cover the Clintons, but Biden’s first year as an official.

The Democrats are not in the best of times. The latest Quinnipiac University poll gave Biden a 33-percent job approval rating, which is his lowest to date and is below Donald Trump’s rating a year into his term. These low numbers don’t come as a surprise considering the rising inflation, uncontrolled federal spending, Biden’s failures to control crime and the coronavirus crisis.

Quinnipiac’s findings showed that only half of Americans believe the work he does is comparable to their expectations. These numbers are understandable given my low expectations of his presidency, due to his poor Senate career and inept presidential campaign. Like other Americans, I was OK with him because he’s not Donald Trump.

Biden has lived up to that low bar. Biden doesn’t give comfort to white nationists (think Charlottesville). He doesn’t encourage police officers to beat suspects. He has not created a cult or banned Muslims from traveling, plotted conspiracy theories and backed dictators.

Biden has told his share of whoppers—but they’re of the normal political variety rather than of the “we’ll create our own version of truth” kind that his predecessor specialized in. I find emotional political movements to be dangerous, and—unlike with Trump—Biden has no throngs of followers willing to arm themselves or invade the U.S. Capitol.

Quinnipiac’s most disturbing finding is that 58 percent of Americans believe that “the nation’s democracy is in danger of collapse.” Nevertheless, Biden doesn’t seem to understand that his victory—and, no, Trump wasn’t actually the winner because of voter fraud—came with a modest mandate to smooth over our fractured political divisions.

The main problem is that Biden, whose Senate career epitomized don’t-rock-the-boat establishmentarianism, is governing like a cross between socialist Bernie Sanders and incompetent Jimmy Carter. After his first 100 days in office, NBC News interviewed progressives who were surprisingly giddy at the new president’s priorities.

“Biden has been incredibly responsive to the progressive movement,” one New York City congressman told the news service. Unionism leader stated that “I don’t believe the (liberals’) would be better if Bernie Sanders had been president.” Biden’s multitrillion dollar spending plan, efforts to raise the minimum wage and his move towards government-run healthcare are all very exciting for progressives.

Along with the pandemic supply issue, this government spending has led to an inflation rate that is unprecedented since Carter. “The US producer price index, which tracks what America’s producers get paid for their goods and services on average over time, rose 9.7 percent last year, not adjusted for seasonal swings,” CNN reported. Americans complain about the high prices of gas, groceries and consumer goods.

Meanwhile, the Administration is “double down on a type of cultural liberalalism that appears tailor-made for alienating centrists,” Financial Times explained. The Democratic “wokeness” is not something Americans like. The White House has made Vice President Kamala Harris unpopular and has given her meaningless tasks. This sets up a nightmare scenario for 2024 Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump.

A reset is possible. The Bulwark’s Charlie Sykes argues that Biden needs some Sister Souljah moments—referring to when Bill Clinton, at a Rainbow Coalition meeting, rebuked a rapper’s vile rhetoric. Biden must forcefully confront the crazy progressives and assure mainstream voters.

After a year, simply not being Donald Trump isn’t enough.

This column appeared in The Orange County Register for the first time.