America Is in Deep Trouble

Column: The president weakens America for a chance at reelection

February 8, 2024

The 2024 election took another unpredictable turn on February 8 when Justice Department special counsel Robert Hur concluded that President Biden had willfully retained and disclosed classified information but did not deserve prosecution because a jury would see him as a "well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory." The special counsel report reinforced GOP criticisms of a two-tier system of justice while amplifying widespread doubts that Biden is up to the job of president.

And how did Biden respond? With a defiant, combative statement and press conference where he read from notes, caustically dismissed the report's findings that his memory is fading, insulted reporters, and then, in unscripted comments, confused the presidents of Egypt and Mexico and said that Israel's response to the Hamas atrocities of October 7 has been "over the top."

It may have been the worst Oval Office address in my recollection. Only Bill Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman" screed springs to mind as competition. In a spur-of-the-moment decision, Biden tried to debunk concerns over his age and ability—and promptly confirmed our worst fears about what is happening inside the White House.

Now we know why his staff has kept Biden under wraps. Why he won't do a Super Bowl pregame interview—reaching the massive NFL audience on an unofficial holiday—for the second straight year. It's not just that his aides worry he'll confuse Travis and Taylor. They're petrified he might cause a national security crisis.

Here's why America is in trouble. We are headed toward a general-election showdown that the public would prefer to avoid. And the Democratic incumbent's condition is growing worse. Americans aren't the only ones who read Hur's report or watched Biden's televised meltdown. America's enemies did too. The world was a dangerous place before this afternoon. It has grown more dangerous since.

There's another reason for concern. Who is running the White House? It is hard to believe it is the sad and defeated man who addressed the nation Thursday evening. As Biden's situation has worsened, he's become more reliant on the progressive Democratic base. His latest policy blunders have weakened the country to further his bitter hopes of a second term.

On January 26, for example, the Biden administration said it would freeze permits for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export projects. The decision was jaw-dropping. Cheap and bountiful energy is the basis of strong, noninflationary economic growth. America's shale revolution creates jobs, made this country "energy independent," and built the world's biggest LNG export industry.

American LNG is cleaner than oil and coal. It contributes to global security by offering our allies and partners an energy source derived from a commercial republic under the rule of law. American LNG shielded Europe from Russia's oil and gas weapon. It's a classic tale of American innovation and entrepreneurship making the world a better place. What's not to like?

A lot, it turns out—if you are a climate catastrophist bent on crippling America's domestic production of carbon fuels. The sort of person who funds Joe Biden's campaigns and serves as a political appointee in his administration. Exactly the type that the president fears.

The green-energy lobby scares Biden. He could spend more time crowing about the tremendous amount of carbon-based energy produced during his tenure. It might improve his numbers. Yet he remains silent. Why? Not just because he keeps out of the public eye. Because of the potential backlash from greens who finance the Democratic Party and micromanage his environmental, industrial, transportation, and tax policies.

Biden plays their game. Kills the Keystone Pipeline. Closes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Drains and fails to replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Restricts offshore drilling. And now, with this latest move, hampers a key node of the world economy, empowers Russia, Venezuela, and Iran and other autocratic energy producers, shifts LNG transport lanes toward a Houthi-terrorized Red Sea, and denies Americans jobs and a better standard of living. Just to rustle up some votes.

Brilliant, Joe.

Executive orders can be reversed, but a fractured foreign policy is hard to repair. Especially if that policy is, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken put it this week during his fifth trip to the region since the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel, "a concrete, time-bound, irreversible path to a Palestinian state."

Blinken is delusional. There won't be a Palestinian state so long as Israel considers one to be a security threat. And it is the height of folly to push Palestinian statehood as Israel conducts an existential war against Hamas, readies its forces against Hezbollah, and cracks down on brewing threats in the West Bank. As the U.N. and UNRWA are exposed as dens of anti-Semitism and complicity in violence against Jews. As America sinks into low-intensity conflict with Iran's proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Like many secretaries of state, BIinken wants to recapitulate Henry Kissinger's legendary shuttle diplomacy of the mid-'70s. Back then, the late, great American statesman traversed the Greater Middle East and laid the foundations for peace between Israel and Egypt. Blinken has replaced shuttle diplomacy with shuffle diplomacy: He limps from country to country, getting nowhere.

Worse, Blinken indulged in some appalling moral equivalence while in Tel Aviv, saying, "Israelis were dehumanized in the most horrific way on October 7. The hostages have been dehumanized every day since. But that cannot be a license to dehumanize others." As if there were any similarity, in any respect, between the atrocities Hamas committed that day and since and the way in which Israel has behaved as it tries to minimize civilian casualties and deliver aid—that Hamas steals—to Gaza.

Worse yet: Biden's comment that Israel's response has been "over the top." Is he serious?

Domestic politics explains Blinken's and Biden's remarks, their frenzied pursuit of a Palestinian mirage, and the general incoherence of President Biden's actions in the Middle East. Biden is petrified that Arab Americans living in Michigan won't vote for him in November, thereby cracking the Blue Wall and handing the election to Trump. He assumes their votes can be bought by pandering, by removing the conditions for Palestinian statehood, by taking a tough rhetorical line against Israel. That's why Samantha Power engaged in her own version of shuffle diplomacy this week, flying to Dearborn as Tony "Too Nice" Blinken flailed overseas.

Here I thought this was another case of a troubled incumbent flailing to command events. What the Hur report and the Biden speech reveal is far more troubling. Remember the liberal media catchline during Trump's presidency? "This is not normal." Yes, indeed. America is in deep trouble.