Regret is not something Americans generally are comfortable admitting. It implies you were – gasp! – mistaken, wish you’d done something differently. Better then, to just ignore the situation and move on as if nothing happened.
That’s where a growing number of Americans seem to be now, over last November’s election and their vote for Joe Biden. Or, more accurately, their vote against Donald Trump.
In autumn polling, more than two-thirds of Democrats declared they were not really voting for the elderly gaffe-meister from Delaware, so much as voting against Trump.
This means at least two things: They were — to Trump’s delight — focused on him. Not on his policy accomplishments and fulfilled promises, which were many, and glued his base firmly in place.
Energy independence. Tax cuts and deregulation that spurred hiring, and an astounding economic recovery.
Embedding hundreds of conservative judges in federal courts, including three lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. Rebuilding a military seriously weakened during the Obama-Biden reign of error.
Erasing the murderous ISIS caliphate that Obama dismissed as a JV team. Addressing festering concerns that the United States was being taken advantage of abroad, especially by allies. No global apology tour for Trump. Drawing down these endless commitments to military conflicts and, perhaps more importantly, launching not one single new one.
No, Biden voters were voting against the boorish, uncouth, rude Trump, the man who never encountered a slight he didn’t need to slap back. Trump’s very mean tweets, which allowed him to dominate virtually every news cycle, for better or worse. And worst of all, he was the man who destroyed their overconfident entitlement in 2016.
Many saw Trump’s antics as unpresidential behavior, except for that stubbornly loyal base that loved them, relished his talking back to and skewering the D.C. elites of both parties who’d ignored their pleas for attention for so long.
It was indeed virtually impossible to avoid exposure to Trump, which was his plan, though it was self-defeating at times. In the closing, campaign days, the 73-year-old incumbent was giving four, even five major rally speeches in as many states every day. He seemed to be everywhere.
Those appearances were designed to motivate the base. And they did, giving the adopted Republican 74 million votes, 12 million more than in his first presidential election and more votes than any GOP candidate in history.
Those ubiquitous appearances, however, also roused voters who disliked him, turning out some 81 million Democrat ballots, 16 million more than what’s-her-name received four years before in one of history’s worst-run campaigns.
A revealing, late November poll by Monmouth University found that slightly more than half of Biden voters were happy he won. But — wait for it — nearly three-quarters of Biden voters were delighted that Trump lost.
It’s always dangerous to vote against one candidate rather than support the other. Understandable perhaps but dangerous nonetheless. I know. I’ve done it.
In 1976, I was so angry with Gerald Ford for pardoning Richard Nixon that I opted for the new guy. He was some peanut farmer from Georgia I did not know much about, but he was a governor and not from that inbred Washington crowd.
He was painfully studious. I believe he had/has a good heart. But under him, we had the Iranian hostage crisis, that botched rescue attempt, his sense of malaise, economic recession, and by 1980, inflation approaching 15 percent. So, Jimmy Carter became the first of what’s become only three, modern presidents to lose reelection bids.
Like me in 1976, last fall’s voters got so wrapped up in their distaste for and disgust with the incumbent that they failed to fully examine the alternative that they supported by default.
The danger signals were there, folks. Biden sometimes mistook what state he was in; after all, Iowa and Ohio are pretty much the same, at least if you’re from coasts as all Democrat leaders are.
Biden was short-tempered with townhall questioners, calling some strange names. He forgot how many grandchildren he has, the name of his policy plans, the name of China’s leader, what the coronavirus is called, and said he was running for the U.S. Senate. He informed one black interviewer that he couldn’t be black if he wasn’t supporting Biden.
He said George W. Bush was the previous president, forgetting the eight years of Barack Obama when Biden was the vice president. One day, he declared there are at least three genders and allowed he prefers “truth over facts.”
To minimize such episodes of public confusions and/or to leave the media stage to the blustering Trump, Biden’s campaign days often ended by mid-morning. It worked then; Biden got 51.3 percent of the popular vote to Trump’s 46.9.
The trouble for Biden now is, Trump is virtually invisible on TV today. He’s barred from social media. So, the public stage belongs to the incumbent president. True, a sympathetic White House media is unashamedly uninterested in exploring Biden’s serial lies and cringeworthy verbal and mental stumbles.
At one event Biden forgot the name of his Defense Secretary standing right next to him. Also slipping his mind was the name of that huge, funny-shaped building that houses the Department of Defense across the river.
Biden’s also rambling incoherently at times. Here he is at his first press conference: “So the best way to get something done, if you, if you hold near and dear to you, that you, uh, um, like to be able to… oh, anyway.”
My colleague here, Nick Arama, caught the president losing track of time the other day by saying he’s been in office 15 months. It just seems that long.
At a FEMA briefing last month, the president of the United States got lost reading his prepared notes:
“But there’s, you know, there — to be, you know, beginning this effort for 2021 is — I think we’ve learned a few lessons from last year as well. There’s help us — we — there, you know, being there to help clear roads, rebuild Main Streets, and so that the families can get back to their lives — that’s what FEMA does every single day. As my mother would say, ‘They’re doing God’s work.’”
This is not a mild concern. American families know too well what happens to elderly minds. Next week, the oldest president in national history has a summit meeting scheduled in Geneva with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The one-time KGB colonel’s reading of a befuddled American leader will play a large role shaping the future of the superpowers’ relationship and how Moscow tests it.
Remember, when the Soviet’s Nikita Khrushchev met in Vienna with the new American President John Kennedy 60 years ago this week? The Russian premier judged the American as weak. So, he sent ICBM’s into Cuba, bringing the world the closest it has ever been to a nuclear Armageddon.
While last fall’s Biden voters were pleased with the election results, now just seven months later, there are poll inklings of buyer’s remorse afoot.
In April of 2009, the early months of Barack Obama’s tenure, 93 percent of his voters remained satisfied with their choice of the previous November. In April of 2017, Trump voters expressed nearly unanimous satisfaction with their ballot selection, 97 percent.
Last month, Fox News asked how satisfied Biden voters were with their election choice. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats, but only 85 percent of liberals, were satisfied with their Biden vote.
Truth is, even if a growing number of Biden-folk didn’t feel remorse, those of us who didn’t vote for Joe certainly regret the votes of those who did, whatever their motivations.