One takeaway from Biden Year 1: Great ambitions, humble defeats

Joe Biden's long career in public life had always been marked by one last ambition: to be behind the Oval Office Resolute Desk.

18 January 2022 Tuesday 12:31
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One takeaway from Biden Year 1: Great ambitions, humble defeats

He was 78 years old and the oldest person to take the presidency. Biden, after the chaos and turmoil of Donald Trump's predecessor, was seen by voters to be able to restore normalcy and a reassuring tone at the White House.

Biden, like his predecessors, also learned that circumstances beyond his control could affect his time in office as well as the public's perception of him.

The Associated Press' White House team reflects on Biden's first-year as President:

BIG BITIONS

Biden began his presidency with over $4 trillion in big ideas, more than the Senate could swallow.

March saw the passage of $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief, which would have been a landmark achievement in many years.

Biden demanded more: $2.3 trillion more for infrastructure and jobs and $1.8 trillion more for families.

After many difficult negotiations, he was able to get his plan for infrastructure passed. He even managed to get more than 12 Republicans in the Senate voting for it.

Attention spans are very short. Biden's $1.8 billion package, which he called "Build Back Better," contained elements that included a wishlist of Democratic priorities from the past decade, including a child care tax credit and climate legislation.

It seems that the bill is not, to change the expression, too big to fail. Republicans abandoned him on that, and many Democrats were also skeptical. Inflation soared and the chances of the plan being implemented plummeted.

-- By Josh Boak

He still thinks like a senator

Biden served nearly 40 years as a senator, so it is not surprising that he brings the mindset of a legislator to his presidency.

Biden is a skilled negotiator, and he has been known for his ability to negotiate from his time in Senate. He still engages in legislative negotiations and is well-versed in the details of his proposals. Biden believes in the importance of personal connections and face to face conversations when negotiating details. He often calls key senators or has lawmakers meet him at the White House.

Full coverage: Biden's first anniversary

Biden stresses the importance of bipartisanship. This value was something he believed in as a senator. It's a value that feels out of sync with today's Washington.

Biden is also a senator. He often misses events and likes getting out of town on weekends. Then he returns home to Delaware.

One major difference? He now rides Air Force One, not Amtrak.

-- By Alexandra Jaffe

SHOOTING HIGH, FALLING SHORT

Biden was left with a long list unfulfilled Democratic policy priorities after he assumed office. However, many of these remain, despite his best efforts.

After Trump's attempts to subvert the will voters, Biden was eager to push for legislation regarding voting protections.

Biden tried to break the legislative blockade by pushing for Senate rules changes to allow bills to be passed by simple majority. However, two moderate members of his party stopped it from ever starting.

This was a clear example of how Biden's main reason for his presidency -- that he had spent nearly forty years in Washington uniquely enabling him to deliver on an enormously ambitious agenda -- is increasingly out of tune with current politics.

Biden tried unsuccessfully to convince people that private cajoling, public arm-twisting and personal relationships could be able to overcome decades of bitter ideological and partisan divisions.

Unmet needs remain in the areas of voting rights, immigration and climate change.

-- By Zeke Miller

NO OBAMA 2.0

Biden was elected to office proclaiming that "America is back", his shorthand message for allies and foes, that Trump's inward-looking, "America first" foreign strategy was over.

His approach to the world, however, has been noted for his determination to avoid the mistakes of his former boss Barack Obama.

Biden stood firm to his August deadline for ending the war in Afghanistan, despite being advised by some military commanders and political allies to slow down what turned out to be a bloody and chaotic U.S. military withdraw. Biden, as vice president, had opposed Obama's decision to send more U.S. soldiers into Afghanistan. The execution and haste of the withdrawal Biden supervised was widely criticised, with many troop deaths.

Biden came to office also with more skepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin than Obama and Trump. Obama wanted to "reset” the U.S.-Russia relations. After a string of disappointments in the past, Obama had lost all hope of a reset when Russia took over Crimea, Black Sea peninsula.

Biden stated early that his greatest hope for the Putin-Biden relationship was stability and predictability. His administration is pressing Putin to stop the current troop buildup at the Ukraine border. It remains to be seen if Biden will get better results.

-- By Aamer madhani

A GILDED CAFE

Biden seems to be a normal man for wanting to reach the White House in the worst possible way for decades.

He has spent more than a quarter of his first year in office in Delaware. This was mostly on weekends and accounted for over a fourth of his presidency. This is a brief trip that required a large operation that involved security personnel, press pools and helicopters.

Biden refers to the White House's accommodations at Pennsylvania Avenue as a kind of "gilded box" in that he can walk outside and do all kinds of things.

In a CNN interview, he stated that he had said during his run for president that he wanted to live in the White House and be able to make decisions about the future country.

He said that the vice presidential residence in Northwest D.C. (on 80 acres, 32 hectares) was quite different.

He said, "You can go out on a porch and jump into a pool in the summer, and then, you know, get to work." You can ride your bicycle around the property and not leave it.

-- Colleen Long

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