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Why Isn't Washington Merry?

With yet another new viral strain threatening the recovery, US President Joe Biden's honeymoon period is long over, as evidenced by his falling approval ratings. But, in fact, morale is declining on both sides of the aisle as politicians navigate the no man's land between ineffectiveness and extremism.

WASHINGTON, DC – The lighting of Christmas trees notwithstanding, Washington is an unhappy place. Indeed, I’ve never seen the city so glum. This applies to members of both political parties as well as those without much ideology. Trajectories that measure a president’s performance have been going down, and, as President Joe Biden is learning painfully (if he didn’t know already), it’s easier for a president’s job approval ratings to go down than to propel them upward again.

The principal reason that Biden did well in his presidency’s early weeks is not difficult to identify: he isn’t Donald Trump. Biden appeared calm, confident, and sure-footed. He appeared to value governing and to know what he was doing. No surprise here, as Biden had been in the Senate for 36 years and then for eight years was vice president to the largely successful Barack Obama.

After some hiccups, Biden picked a largely respectable Cabinet. The emphasis on diversity, almost to the point of religious belief and with a touch of comedy, slowed down many appointments, and is still doing so with regard to ambassadorships. That a large number remain unfilled after nearly a year isn’t just the fault of a few obdurate Republican senators, in particular Ted Cruz, the undomesticated right-winger from Texas and his fellow agitator Josh Hawley, of Missouri. Both men also encouraged the attempt on January 6, 2021, to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

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