By Adam Jordan
Only a few months into the term of the Biden administration, and already the President is facing several difficult dilemmas simultaneously. However, it is, unfortunately, safe to say that he is not handling them particularly well.
Where to begin? Well, the most noticeable is the situation at the US-Mexico border, where a rapidly intensifying immigration crisis is unfolding. As the Financial Times has reported, over 100,000 people have tried to enter the US from the south in February alone, with nearly one-tenth of those being unaccompanied minors.
Now, President Biden has untruthfully blamed the prior administration’s border policies for this recent surge, when it is his removal of these policies (that, whether you agree with them or not, effectively reduced migrant flows) alongside his welcoming rhetoric that have been the most significant contributing factors to the massive influx of migrants from the south.
Bear in mind, too, that this is all in the midst of an ongoing pandemic – worryingly, around 10% of the children arriving at the southern border are testing positive for Covid-19, not only exacerbating the limited spatial capacity of the border facilities but also risking the spread of Covid-19 to other migrants and the already-overwhelmed and outnumbered border forces.
It is also noteworthy that Biden’s immigration policies are receiving public backlash from South American leaders like President Obrador of Mexico, and President Bukele of El Salvador.
Regardless of your view on immigration policy, it is evident that the Biden administration is largely at fault for this overwhelming and dire situation, one for which they appear ill-equipped, and unable to offer an effective solution.
What next? An issue surrounding this emergency is the complete denial of press access to US-Mexico border facilities, which have led to calls from all sides for greater transparency.
This is demonstrative of another fundamental issue within the Biden administration. The President rarely answers questions from the press, and when he does, the majority of them are softballs from reporters who were not afraid to tussle with the previous President.
His first press conference, a whopping two months into his presidency (a modern record), was plagued with Biden’s seemingly regular forgetful antics and not-entirely-truthful claims, alongside his use of a cheat sheet during the conference, and a list of approved journalists from whom he would receive questions. Inexcusably, he was not once asked about the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the entire event.
Despite the conflict between Donald Trump and the media since 2016, it is also clear that there has been a total lack of transparency within and scrutinization of this administration.
So, where else have things been going wrong? For a President that preached unity and moderation prior to his election, Biden is apparently unafraid to wade right into America’s most heated and divisive contemporary political issues.
His use of executive action on transgender sports has been met with significant backlash, and following the horrific events in Boulder and Atlanta, Biden is proposing immediate Congressional and potentially executive action on gun rights. Regardless of opinion on these issues, the consideration of executive action on such hot-button issues after a campaign premised on uniting divided Americans with an apparently moderate, centrist strategy, seems entirely counter-productive and dishonest.
In all fairness, the administration has handled the vaccine distribution satisfactorily, though has actively neglected to credit the Trump administration for its prior involvement in vaccine development and distribution through Operation Warp Speed, without which Biden would not be in the position he is in now.
Biden is flailing on multiple fronts when it comes to policy and rhetoric but is also woefully gaffe-prone. Take, for example, the infamous fall *up* the stairs leading to Air Force One, or his appalling comments in a recent CNN Townhall, where he labelled China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims as simply “different cultural norms”.
It’s not that Biden hasn’t been given a tough job. He has. And it isn’t entirely his fault that he is having to deal with so many dilemmas at once – some are of his own making – but it is simply that he is not handling much of it at all well, and if the first two months are anything to go by, Biden’s promised return to normality may amount only to that – a promise, one regrettably unkept.
Image: CHAUNCEY I. BROWN III via Flickr.