Chris Cillizza: Seven months in, Biden isn't looking so competent

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Chris Cillizza’s job at CNN often seems to be to state the obvious. The results aren’t always good or well thought out but sometimes he gets to a basic truth. That’s the case today with a piece headlined “Joe Biden is facing a crisis of competence.

At the heart of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign was a single word: competence…

Seven months into his first term, however, Biden is faced with nothing short of a crisis of that competence, beset on a number of fronts with developments that it appears all of his experience and know-how didn’t prevent.

The takeover of Afghanistan is the obvious point that motivated the piece but as Cillizza points out, it’s not the only area where Biden’s competence appears to be lacking. There’s also the pandemic and the crisis along the border:

While Biden was congratulating himself and the country this spring on the number of people who had been vaccinated against Covid-19, his administration came up short of its oft-stated goal of 70% of eligible adults with at least one shot of the vaccine by July 4…

Then there is the border. Arrests of those attempting to cross illegally at the US’s southern border hit a two-decade high last month. Alejandro Mayorkas, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, admitted late last week that the US is facing a “serious challenge” at the border.

Actually, it’s worse than that when it comes to the border. What Mayorkas said privately, as opposed to his public speech, was that the situation was “unsustainable.” “These numbers cannot continue, ” he said. Do they have a plan to change the numbers? Not so far. Sending VP Harris to Central America accomplished little or nothing. They are now flying migrants deep into Mexico so they can’t return to the border as easily. Meanwhile, children and families who turn up are allowed in, some without even so much as a court date.

And when you look back at this in combination with Afghanistan you begin to see the pattern. Biden promised competence but what he’s delivering is crisis. He promised the adults were back in charge but he delivers disasters so historic it makes even his allies wonder if anyone is in charge. He promised straight talk but what we mostly get is spin, such as calling the border crisis a “challenge” or the statement he just gave moments ago saying he planned for every contingency in Afghanistan when it’s clear he failed to prepare for the most obvious contingency of all. As Cillizza puts it, “at the moment, chaos is winning over competence. And that is a major problem for Biden and his administration.”

I have no doubt the Biden stans in the media will find a way to rationalize all of this. Some of them already have. But even when this particular moment passes the lesson that this president isn’t living up to his billing ought to stick.

Jazz Shaw May 24, 2022 7:58 AM ET