boskin78_Drew AngererGetty Images_biden Drew AngererGetty Images

Biden’s Cruel Summer

With the Taliban’s sudden reconquest of Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden is learning how quickly “inbox problems” can derail other objectives. Whether he will recover and salvage his legislative agenda remains to be seen; history offers conflicting lessons.

STANFORD – A political leader’s performance and legacy are usually defined more by how he handles his inbox than by whether he delivers on hyperbolic campaign promises or visions of the promised land. US President Joe Biden is learning this lesson during his first summer on the job. Reality is rudely intruding on his plans.

Many “inbox problems” arrive unexpectedly, as was true of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the COVID-19 pandemic; but others are more easily anticipated, as in the case of persistent inflation and long wars. Biden’s problems this summer fall into the latter category. His radical economic agenda has predictably exposed rifts among congressional Democrats and increased the risk that centrist and independent voters will experience buyer’s remorse. Democrats are now rightly worried that the Republicans will retake the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm elections.

There is time for Biden to recover, of course. But his honeymoon has clearly ended with the disastrous decision to withdraw the last US forces from Afghanistan without a plan for safely evacuating Americans, allies, and the thousands of Afghans who risked their lives supporting US-led operations there.

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