United States: Joe Biden disarmed after a week of cascading disillusionment

Dark week for Joe Biden. Faced with the provocations of North Korea and Russia, the skid of inflation, the parliamentary wreckage of a major electoral reform, Joe Biden held Friday to praise the one of the rare successes so far of his presidency, namely a major infrastructure plan.

“We talk a lot about the disappointment with the things that we have not managed to do , and I would add that we are going to succeed in carrying out many of them. But that, we did it, ”said Joe Biden at the White House, while behind him scrolled images of more or less decrepit bridges.

What the Democrat did , is to vote in the fall 1.200 billion dollars of investment in roads, bridges, the internet, a historic amount which even benefited from the support of some Republican parliamentarians. But the reminder of this undeniable success has something almost cruel about it. During the ratification with great fanfare of the text on last November, Joe Biden had invited a senator from Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema , to speak up to praise the text. On Thursday, the same Kyrsten Sinema buried in a few words, in the Senate gallery, a major electoral law with which Joe Biden promised to protect access to the polls for African-Americans against restrictions imposed by certain conservative states in the South.

Attacks against Trump

This text is emblematic of a turn that Joe Biden seeks to take: in two recent speeches, the president has issued warnings of unprecedented gravity about American democracy. And launched attacks of unprecedented virulence against his predecessor Donald Trump, and against the opposition in general.

So no hope, for this electoral reform project, of rallying parliamentarians Republicans to reach the “super majority” of 200 votes required in the Senate. The Democratic staff has therefore devised a procedure to force a simple majority – with the 51 votes they control against 50 to the opposition. But Kyrsten Sinema refused this manoeuvre, like another moderate Democratic senator, condemning the reform itself. Also on Thursday, the Supreme Court canceled a vaccination obligation that the president wanted to impose on large companies. And the White House acknowledged that after an intense diplomatic ballet with Russia, the threat of a new conflict in Ukraine had by no means been lifted.

A dark day in a calamitous week that starkly reminded us that Joe Biden, sworn in just under a year ago, made big promises with little room to manoeuvre.

His control of the Congress is hanging by a thread, and it has to deal with a Supreme Court that Donald Trump has made very conservative.

On the economic front, inflation has reached its highest level since 200. And the United States has broken the record for the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19, a new wave which is emptying the shelves of supermarkets, faced with recurring shortage problems since the start of the pandemic.

The specter of a rout in the midterms

On Friday, North Korea carried out its third missile test of the year, one more provocation as the United States has just imposed new financial sanctions.

And what about the polls which, one after another, confirm the strong unpopularity of the president? Most opinion polls give a confidence rating around 20 %.

« A program does not end in a year. We will continue to fight for each component,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki promised on Friday, listing both the economy, the fight against the pandemic and climate change, and the fight for civil rights. .

But if Joe Biden has few weapons to fight, he also has less and less time. In the fall, he will face historically difficult mid-term legislative elections for the power in place, and could lose control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.