Gloom is the theme of Time magazine’s look at President Joe Biden’s first year in office.
In its own report assessing the cover of the double issue that evaluates Biden’s first year, the magazine says there is a reason for him to be in what is called “a gloomy Oval Office.”
Artist Tim O’Brien, who drew the office as a mess under the headline “Day One” on the Feb. 1/Feb. 8 magazine cover in 2021, drew Biden with storm clouds over his head, issues stacked in his office, and a perplexed Biden holding out his hand to see if it’s raining amid the headline “YEAR ONE” in the Jan. 31/Feb. 7 Time cover this year.
“This new cover shows Biden in a cleaned-up office, but the tasks remain, and the mounting issues gather like storm clouds,” O’Brien said, with issues that include COVID-19, inflation and Putin adding to what Time called “the gloomy forecast.”
“A year later, Biden sits at the resolute desk, with mounting tasks and threats and a persistent COVID pandemic all still lingering. The country needs him to rise to the moment before it really starts raining.”
— TIME (@TIME) January 20, 2022
Time’s report in Biden’s first year says “the pandemic he promised to bring to heel rages out of control. Inflation is at a four-decade high, canceling out rising wages. The border is a mess. Violent crime continues to climb. His approval rating has sunk to the low 40s.”
“It’s just been one disappointment after another. Joe Biden was supposed to be the expert at dealing with all of these issues. What is it that he’s done right? Other than getting infrastructure passed, what has he done that’s come off really well?” Iowa-based nonpartisan pollster J. Ann Selzer said in the article, written by Molly Ball and Brian Bennett.
Time’s assessment is that “there’s a growing sense that the Biden presidency has lost its way.”
“An Administration that pledged to restore competence and normalcy seems overmatched and reactive. Biden has been caught flat-footed by not one but two COVID-19 variants. He has repeatedly failed to close the deal with the Senate he boasted of mastering. The former chair of the foreign relations committee has presided over escalating tensions with Russia and China as well as a chaotic pullout from Afghanistan,” the magazine wrote.
Time’s report sums Biden up as a “shrinking figure” with doubts about his competence and leadership. His political failures have irked many, the report said.
“A lot of people have been very blunt with them about what a terrible job they’re doing,” what Time called “a congressional Democrat” is quoted as saying of the Biden White House. “But they’re very sensitive.”
“The Administration has done really well on vaccines,” Dr. Céline Gounder, an epidemiologist at New York University who advised Biden’s transition, said, “but the other interventions were more of an afterthought.”
However, mixed messaging and the rise of two coronavirus variants have overshadowed any success that built on the beginning laid by former President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.
“I would argue that the American people have less trust in federal health officials now than a year ago,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University.
As for Biden himself, Time writes that “the reason he hasn’t been more visibly in charge is as much of an open secret as it is a taboo subject in Washington.”
“The 79-year-old President has always been gaffe-prone, but in recent years his unsteadiness has become more pronounced. He tells stories that aren’t true, such as claiming to have been arrested in the civil rights movement, driven a tractor-trailer and intervened in Israel’s Six-Day War,” Time wrote.
The magazine noted in its closing vignette a Biden foray on Capitol Hill to urge passage of election-related legislation, and Biden’s comment after the meeting.
“I hope we can get this done,” Time quoted Biden as saying. “But I’m not sure.”