There are many differences between Obama in 2011 and Biden in 2022, and they don’t work in the incumbent’s favor. For one thing, time is running short for Biden. He has less than 10 months before Election Day. For another, Obama had a Republican House of Representatives to triangulate against. All the voters know now is that Democrats are in full control of the federal government and making a mess of it. A third difference is the state of the world. Obama’s controversial first term looks like a placid oasis compared with the hellscape of today.
Then of course there are the stylistic divergences between Obama and his former vice president. Obama was a cultural figure as well as a president, a man of distinction and suavity whose oratorical presence and position atop his party was never questioned, even if plenty of people (including me) disagreed with just about everything he ever did or said. The same isn’t true of Biden. Obama is incapable of a press conference as rambling and disheveled and politically harmful as Biden’s. Even Bill Clinton, four years Biden’s junior, would have done better. And Clinton’s been out of office for 21 years.
Biden pledged to make some changes this year, however. Not to his White House team. Not to his vice president. According to Biden, they are all doing fine. Nor will he alter his policies. Maybe Build Back Better can pass in “chunks,” maybe Congress can reform the Electoral Count Act to prevent election subversion, but overall Biden is satisfied with himself. “Can you think of any other president that has done as much in one year?” Biden asked in one of his biggest whoppers of the afternoon. “Name one for me.”