Joe Incompetent

When it comes to the Biden Administration, my advice is: forget the ideology, concentrate on the incompetence. 

Yes, the Biden Administration has gone all-in on the leisured Left agenda, throwing its hat in with the race-baiters, icky sexual exotics, climate fanatics, and other wardens of wokeness. 

All that is destructive, not to mention deeply unattractive.

But even worse than the preening, self-indulgent theatrics of these unhappy would-be censors and commandants is the mind-boggling ineptitude of this administration. 

Thanks to soon-to-be-former Representative Liz Cheney (RINO-Wyo.), we’ve been hearing a lot about January 6, 2021, lately. But not only was that the day that some of Donald Trump’s supporters traipsed around the Capitol building. It was also, as it turns out, a day that provided a nice contrast between the Trump and the Biden Administrations. I am not thinking about the differences in comportment between the two but energy costs under Donald Trump compared with those costs under Joe Biden. Since Biden seems bent on fulfilling his promise to destroy the coal industry and stop all drilling, it is not surprising that the cost of energy has skyrocketed over the last year. One wag sent around a “Never Forget January 6th” notice listing the prices of fuel on that day in 2021:

  • Regular gas was $1.99
  • Premium was $2.14 
  • Diesel was $2.21 

Earlier today, I was driving around my town in Connecticut and saw that regular gas was $4.99 9/10 and Diesel was $6.30. In some places in California, gas is flirting with the $10 mark. Maybe Joe wants us all to follow his example and take to the bicycle. His own experience with the machine seems like a metaphor for his entire administration. 

Of course, higher energy costs mean higher everything costs. Bought an airline ticket lately? That’ll cost you 30-40 percent more than it did when Trump left office. Used cars have undergone a similar adjustment upward. Milk, bread, coffee, and eggs are 15-20 percent more now than they were a year ago. Joe Biden says that this isn’t his fault because inflation is raging everywhere in the Western world and, besides, it is worse “everywhere else.” 

But it isn’t worse everywhere else. The latest official inflation rate in the United States is 8.6 percent. (Were inflation calculated the way it was in 1980, it would be about 15 percent.) As Matt Margolis points out at PJ Media, inflation in Germany is currently running at about 7.9 percent, in France at 5.2 percent, in Japan at 2.5 percent, in India at 7.04 percent, in Canada and Italy at 6.8 percent, and in Saudi Arabia at 2.2 percent. 

Margolis links to a painful exchange between Peter Doocy of Fox News and Biden’s remarkable new press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Why, Doocy wanted to know, was the president saying inflation was worse everywhere else when it wasn’t? Jean-Pierre’s nonanswer was revealing, not just for its mendacity but for its stupidity and its incompetence. 

A lot of the Biden Administration is summed up in Jean-Pierre. If you know anything at all about her, you know that she is the first black lesbian to serve as White House press secretary. That is presented as an accomplishment, but it is nothing of the kind. It’s the same with Ketanji Brown Jackson, the embryo Supreme Court Justice-in-waiting who is tapping her foot until Stephen Breyer retires. What are Jackson’s achievements? Why, she will be the first black female on the Court. But again, that’s not an accomplishment. That is just identity politics in action. 

It turns out that all of Biden’s accomplishments are of this nature: that is, they are not accomplishments at all. They are just politically correct gestures masquerading as policy. Biden’s “historic” sanctions against Russia were supposed to deliver a crippling blow—which they seem to be doing, but against the United States, not Russia. The ruble is at a four-year high, Russia’s gold reserves are among the most robust in the world, and its revenue from oil jumped to $20 billion in May, roughly what it was before Putin invaded Ukraine in February. 

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who talked tough for about 15 minutes when Russia first invaded Ukraine, has been busy back-peddling and accommodating, rather than confronting, Vladimir Putin. “Germany’s New Resolve on Russia is Already Flagging,” shouts a headline from the Hudson Institute. “In effect,” that essay reads, “Scholz has attempted to substitute spending for leadership.” Sound familiar? 

The implications for Ukraine are dire: Russian President Vladimir Putin may not have won the war, but he may yet win the peace—especially if Scholz teams up with French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been pushing for an end to the war at terms favorable enough to Putin that he is spared any “humiliation.” To that end, Scholz and Macron will travel to Kyiv this week with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. 

Maybe they will bring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy some new duds. The green T-shirts have worn out their welcome. 

Scholz and his entourage may not have any Biden officials in tow, but he will have the Biden Administration along in spirit. The name of Biden’s policy towards Russia is “hurt America first.” His sanctions do bite, but they are mostly biting the American consumer. Meanwhile, Russia has halted natural gas supplies to much of the EU, cutting Dutch, Danish, and German contracts. Back in February, as he was announcing his first round of sanctions against Russia, Biden said, “I want to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump. This is critical to me,” he added. So critical that the price of gas has more than doubled in the few months since he made that remark. 

The simple truth is that the Biden Administration is a shambles. Adam Smith was trying to be consoling when he told a British soldier during the American Revolution that “there’s a deal of ruin in a nation.” There is indeed. But Joe Biden is testing the limits of that home truth. 

About Roger Kimball

Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine's Press), The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee).

Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

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