Can we get a divorce?
Sorry if this isn’t the most effusive of messages as you celebrate your first year in office as president of the United States.
But I fear it’s exactly what many disillusioned Americans, including some who voted for you, are now thinking.
I don’t like to sugar-coat things, so let me be blunt: You’ve been a disaster.
In fact, it’s hard to think of a more insipid, less inspiring, fiasco-ridden opening 12 months to a presidency.
Nor one that has so spectacularly failed to deliver on the promises made at an inauguration ceremony.
You were going to reunite a bitterly fractured country by ending “the anger and harsh rhetoric,” remember?
You’ve failed. Your enraged, spiteful, Republican-bashing speeches at the start of this year were just as divisive as anything Donald Trump ever spewed.
You were going to “defeat” COVID, remember?
You’ve failed. More Americans have died from coronavirus on your watch than under President Trump, the Omicron variant is surging out of control all over the country, your testing system has been disastrously slow, and you’ve still only persuaded 63% of US citizens to be vaccinated.
You were going to fix the economy, remember?
You’ve failed. Inflation is raging over 7%, fuel and energy bills are soaring, and consumer prices are spiking on everything from food to cars and furniture.
You were going to lean on your many decades as a senator to bring bipartisan deal-making back to DC, remember?
You’ve failed. In fact, you can’t even persuade two of your own Democrat senators to agree with you about key policies, never mind the Republicans. From voting rights and work vaccine mandates to climate change and social spending, your legislative efforts have begun to resemble the losing streak of the Division 111 men’s basketball team Caltech Beavers, whose record 207 consecutive losses were immortalized in the documentary “Quantum Hoops.”
On the international stage, your standing is even worse thanks to your appalling decision to abruptly abandon the people of Afghanistan to the Taliban wolves last summer. In the deadly, shameful chaos that ensued, 13 US troops and nearly 200 civilians were killed. But the longer-term fallout has been even more horrific, with millions of helpless Afghans, including some who risked their lives to help US forces, now struggling to survive in abject, education-devoid poverty amid a new reign of suppressive, women-hating Taliban tyranny.
This ongoing debacle, met with deafening silence by your two-faced woke-brigade supporters who would have destroyed Trump if he’d been responsible, has sent the world a message that America can no longer be trusted.
Just as the excruciating spectacle of you falling asleep on live TV at the COP26 climate change conference in Scotland sent a message that the oldest-ever US president, at 78, who’d gone there to tell us all to open our eyes to the environmental threat to the planet, can’t even keep his own eyes open.
No wonder Vladimir Putin is licking his lips at the chance to invade Ukraine.
The ruthless Russian leader’s brazen warmongering antics suggest he senses weakness in a US opponent who seems too old, too weary and too bogged down in domestic strife to have the energy or will to take him on.
Mr. President, you keep saying you want to “Build Back Better!” but America’s now in a worse position than it was before you were elected — ravaged by the virus, a battered economy, rising violent crime and deteriorating border issues.
People feel poorer, sicker and less safe.
Your beleaguered press secretary, Jen Psaki, left to do most of your fighting for you given your shameful disinclination to expose yourself to proper media accountability (far fewer press conferences and interviews than five of your immediate predecessors), and the dismally ineffective covering fire from your hopeless Vice President Kamala Harris, says you’re going to keep pushing “the boulders up the hill.”
Hmmm … For many of your countrymen, those boulders are tumbling onto their heads, and they have less and less confidence you can do anything to save them.
That’s why your approval ratings are tanking so badly, why the Democrats are heading for Congress wipeout in the November midterms, and why Trump has legitimate reason to think he can beat you in 2024 to reclaim the presidency he so wrongly claims was stolen from him.
I don’t think you’re a bad man, Joe.
Far from it.
I think you’re someone whose harrowing life experiences have given you a very real, deep humanity and empathy.
You once called to thank me personally for a column I wrote about your son Beau when he died in 2015.
It was a deeply moving conversation and you told me then that you keep a framed “Hagar the Horrible” cartoon strip on your desk, given to you by your father after the tragic earlier deaths of your wife and baby daughter in a car crash.
It features Hagar stranded on a rock in a violent storm as his boat flounders.
“Why me?” he shouts up at God.
To which God replies simply: “Why not?”
You told me: “My father could sense I was beginning to lose my faith. This cartoon was his way of saying there is no way to rationalize what had taken place. But if you don’t get up, it will crush you. It’s so important to remember that however bad things may seem, a lot of people are going through a lot worse than you and the way they get through it is other people reaching out to them to give them solace, and in finding a purpose.”
Ironically, a lot of hurting Americans seeking solace and purpose in these tumultuous times have lost faith in the person tasked with giving it to them and are asking, “Why him?” when they look at the current occupant of the White House: You.
To which, a year into your presidency, you have singularly failed to provide a convincing answer.
You exuded great hope a year ago, but that’s been wrecked by dithering, blathering, blundering reality.
Wake up, Joe, or you’re going to sleep-walk into the next election lamer than any lame-duck president ever, and the disgruntled American people will be voting for a divorce — and quite possibly getting back with their ex.