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The 46th president came into office promising to attack four crises – coronavirus, climate, economy and racial justice – but has seen his approval rating sink to 42% after colliding with some harsh political and economic realities.
These include tepid jobs growth, labour strikes, rising inflation and petrol prices, logjams in the global supply chain, a record number of arrests at the US-Mexico border and a botched withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan that raised unexpected questions about his competence.
Even routine business, such as appointing an ambassador to Japan, appears to have become jinxed: Biden’s choice for Tokyo, Rahm Emanuel, provoked a backlash from liberals because of his record on racial justice as mayor of Chicago.
Worries that Biden has lost his way have been intensified by his failure to hold an open-to-all press conference since taking office in January. In that time he has done only 10 one-on-one interviews – far fewer than Barack Obama or Donald Trump at the same stage.
But the biggest sense of a stalled presidency derives from seemingly interminable wrangling among congressional Democrats over Biden’s $1tn physical infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion social and environmental package.
Two senators in particular, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have demanded cuts to the reconciliation package, prompting public acrimony with Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressives that has come to dominate Washington and crowd out other urgent causes.
Biden’s proud march into the history books appears to have descended into internal party mudslinging.
“It’s completely taking the air out of the balloon for the Biden presidency. It’s hurting Biden. It’s hurting the Democrats. It’s undermining the vision of all the accomplishments we will have as being highly significant.”

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