Biden Can’t Blame Trump Anymore

In the early days of any administration, there is a tendency for new presidents to blame their predecessors for problems they claim to have inherited — and there is a window during which the public is willing to accept such arguments. But for President Biden, the window on blaming Donald Trump has now closed. As Americans process the tragic news of double-digit deaths of U.S. service members in twin terrorist attacks in the midst of a botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, it will be hard for Biden to dodge responsibility.

When Biden took office, COVID-19 was two weeks past its winter peak, the U.S. was administering over a million vaccine doses a day, and the economy had bounced back. Biden nonetheless falsely said that he had inherited the “worst crisis since the Great Depression” and claimed that the administration was launching a vaccination campaign from scratch, and he told Americans to “mask up” for just 100 days in keeping with his campaign vow to “shut down the virus.” Yet we’re now in the midst of a COVID-19 surge, and more than a hundred days since his first hundred days, the CDC still maintains masking guidance — even for the fully vaccinated.

Biden similarly has attempted to blame Trump for the mounting fiasco in Afghanistan. And while it’s true that Trump made the initial agreement to withdraw and wind down the troop presence, it was Biden’s role as commander in chief to oversee that withdrawal. It’s true that the baseline assumption on both sides of the “stay” vs. “leave” debate was that leaving Afghanistan would be chaotic in the short term. That events have unfolded in a way that’s significantly worse than even these low baseline expectations is quite the testament to Biden’s incompetence. Biden cannot blame Trump for, say, abandoning Bagram Air Base. Leaving was never going to be smooth, but it could have been done in a way that would ensure that Americans and our allies were out before the withdrawal. And it could have been done without today’s bloody catastrophe.

At this point, Americans are unlikely to accept “blame Trump” excuses. Per CNBC:

A recent NBC News poll found that approval of Biden’s Covid handling fell from 69% in April to 53% in August, a 13-point drop.

Meanwhile, just 25% of voters said they approved of Biden’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan.

“The promise of April has led to the peril of August,” Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt, who conducted the NBC News poll, told the network.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll released today found that more than two-thirds of Americans, and even 55 percent of Democrats, agree that the Afghanistan withdrawal has been handled “badly.” And he is underwater in his overall approval rating.

Keep in mind, all these polls were taken before today’s terrorist attacks.

Biden owes his political success entirely to the fact that he has had Trump as a foil. It’s why Democrats were willing to nominate an elderly, shaky, and twice-defeated presidential candidate. It’s the reason he was elected. And the contrast with Trump was the reason why he enjoyed generally positive approval ratings during his first six months in office. But now, Biden is on his own. Because he can no longer use Trump as an excuse for his own failures.