St. Patrick’s Day is a fine time to check in on the political progress of Joe Biden, one of only two Irish Catholics to ever hold the presidency.
Of all the ways we understand Biden, underappreciated is one that would have been very obvious a generation ago: He’s an Irish-American Democrat. Biden is a traditionalist in many matters but a staunch man of the left on economic policy and a big booster for organized labor and party loyalty. His rhetoric is that of emotional connection, and he seldom lets the facts get in the way of a good story.
On this day a year ago, Biden was in some deep colcannon politically. The economy was getting crushed by inflation, which he and his team couldn’t fully bring themselves to admit. Russia looked like it might be poised to hand a humiliating defeat to the West in Ukraine. That, combined with spiking post-pandemic demand, helped push domestic gas prices past $4.30 a gallon on their way to their peak at more than $5. Biden was 15 points underwater in his job-approval rating, and Democrats were careening toward a midterm face-plant in November like those suffered by the parties in power in 2018 and 2010.
At this point in 2022, Democrats were already starting to pre-blame Biden for the expected shellacking, and you could see potential presidential primary challengers lining up on stage left.