A couple of months ago, many liberals on social media openly asked whether President Joe Biden was fit to stand for reelection in 2024, on account of his age and inability to unite his party in tackling high gas prices, healthcare for veterans, and inflation. Political conservatives pounced on Biden’s moment of weakness with stickers affixed to gas pumps showing a giddy Biden with a quote bubble, “I did that!” Conservative bumper stickers carried the slogan “Let’s Go Brandon,” a tongue-in-cheek insult at the president.
In an example of a pejorative redefined as a compliment, Biden supporters are sharing Dark Brandon memes showing the 79-year-old chief executive in sunglasses, with the body of a superhero, sometimes accompanied by one of his dated slang expressions: “Your malarkey has been going on for too long, kiddo.”
The small bump in Biden’s approval rating that is reflected in the Dark Brandon memes can be attributed to his support for Ukraine, which has overwhelming bipartisan approval. Last week, his administration announced 166 infrastructure projects across the country, to the tune of $2.2 billion.
“We recognize that the solutions don’t all have to come from Washington, but more of the funding should, and that’s what this program is doing,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters. “We are able to say yes more often for great projects, getting them off of the drawing board and in the ground, out in the communities where they’re going to save people time and money.”
Across the states and territories, federally funded projects include reconstruction of docks, high-speed rail, roads that rise above floodwaters, and greenways for bikes.
Biden’s signing of the PACT Act, which provides healthcare benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits, demonstrated his ability to overcome partisan gridlock. What’s more patriotic than supporting veterans? Initially, Congressional Republicans tried to stymie the bill, arguing that it costs too much and the difficulty of proving the connection between burn pits and cancer.
With Jon Stewart on his megaphone standing alongside veterans on the steps of the Capitol, public pressure grew on the Republicans not to delay the passage of this bill. It would have been a public relations nightmare for Republicans to deny benefits to veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq – two wars that began during their party’s administration.
A similar example of sympathy overriding cost concerns was the Inflation Reduction Act, which had the support of Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. To earn their vote, Biden offered a less ambitious bill to lawmakers, leaving out universal pre-k, federally funded family sick leave, an enhanced child tax credit, and higher taxes on corporations. What it includes are free vaccines for seniors, and tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles, solar panels, and electric heating and cooling.
With victories in Congress, the administration executed the search warrant on former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, finding boxes of documents with sensitive nuclear and military information in violation of laws that required the outgoing president to hand over his records to the National Archives. Trump’s supporters argued that the FBI raid was a witch hunt to prevent Trump from running again in 2024. Biden countered that no individual is above the law.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”
Trump is, at best, ignorant of rules regarding government documents, and, at worst, bordering on treason. But when it comes to actual enemies, the targeted strike that killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri on July 31 demonstrated that the same president who gave the order last year for our troops to quit Afghanistan, kept his eye on that country, focusing on specific individuals with American blood on their hands.
Concerning those stickers at the gas pumps, this week the national average for gas per gallon dipped below $4 for the first time since March, although in New York it is $4.34, according to the AAA.
If Biden is serious about running for reelection, the cost of gas alone is not the only metric that matters in the daily lives of voters. Eggs, milk, and bread also figure in the cost of living that determines how much support voters would offer towards infrastructure projects, publicly funded healthcare, and support for Ukraine.
Recent Congressional primary victories for moderates in the party help bolster Biden’s policies, reducing pressure from progressives, increasing opportunities for bipartisanship, and on foreign policy, continuing to support Israel as it confronts rockets launched from Gaza. In his statement last week on the ceasefire brokered by Egypt, Biden did not mention the two-state solution explicitly.
“As I made clear during my recent trip to Israel and the West Bank, Israelis and Palestinians both deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.”
Such measures bring expectations on Israel not to expand Jewish communities or annex land. But it also means that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority must rein in corruption, schedule elections, and stop funding terrorism. Unless a Republican is elected president in 2024, then Biden is the best option among the Democrats concerning the security of Israel.
Behind the Dark Brandon memes, Biden’s recent accomplishments show that the “Sleepy Joe” character coined by Trump is a serious leader.
By Sergey Kadinsky