‘Looks Like Jimmy Carter’: ABC Panel Torches Biden Over Inflation, Economy

Political News

As economic conditions continue to deteriorate under President Joe Biden’s watch, his cheerleaders on ABC have started to turn on him (at least temporarily). This was definitely the case on Sunday morning’s This Week. 

During the “Powerhouse Roundtable” while previewing Biden’s upcoming state of the union address, fill-in host Jonathan Karl began by reading from former Obama advisor David Axelrod’s recent op-ed in the New York Times urging Biden to show humility and stop gaslighting Americans into believing everything is going well in the country. 

“The state of the union is stressed, he said. To claim otherwise to highlight the progress we’ve made without fully acknowledging the hard road we have traveled and the distance we need to go, would seem off key and out of touch. You simply cannot jaw bone Americans into believing things are better than they feel.” Karl read from the piece.

Karl then turned to panelist and pollster Frank Luntz asking him “Is that really the way to go?”

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Luntz tore into Biden and the malaise that has spread throughout the country: “He’s got to tell the truth. Which means you have to acknowledge where things are. You can’t tell people that happy days are here again and you’re in the middle of a depression. You can’t tell people that things are good.” 

As a pollster, Luntz has a pretty good window into what Americans are feeling and expressed his concern that “there’s a level of anxiety that I haven’t seen since the 1970s.” Adding: “Joe Biden ran as Harry Truman. He thought he was gonna govern as Franklin Roosevelt, but this, to me, looks just like Jimmy Carter in every possible way.”

After that dose of reality, political director Rick Klein, fearing the segment had thus far been too harsh on Biden, decided to dial back the criticism and offer some optimism for the Democrats watching at home.

There’s a lot of Democrats, who I’ve heard from in the last couple of days, who say we’ve got a lot to run on,” Klein said, acting as the Democrat Party’s stenographer. “Democrats still think they’ve got a lot of things to brag about. About the progress that’s being made and think they need to show people that they continue to deliver. That’s hard to wedge into a malaise-type speech.” 

Next up, Politico Playbook co-author Rachel Bade railed against Biden for spending months telling Americans that the inflation they are experiencing is just “transitory.” She warned that Democrats “have been frustrated with President Biden going out there and saying inflation is ‘transitory’” because “it’s been months now” and inflation has “only gotten worse” under his watch.

Bade also recalled how Biden, in an interview, “attacked Lester Holt” and called him a “wise guy” for asking about why he has continued to claim inflation is just temporary. She made the point that these are questions that all American voters “whether they be Democrats, Independents, or Republicans, are asking.”

To read the relevant transcript of this segment click “expand”: 

ABC’s This Week
2/20/2022
9:39:30 AM EST

JON KARL: So we’ve heard from David Axelrod, of course, President Obama’s top adviser, with some advice for Biden on how to approach this. Let me read a portion of what he said. The state of the union is stressed, he said. To claim otherwise to highlight the progress we’ve made without fully acknowledging the hard road we have traveled and the distance we need to go, would seem off key and out of touch. You simply cannot jaw bone Americans into believing things are better than they feel. So, basically, from Axelrod, Frank, we’re hearing the advice that Biden should offer a dose of humility. That’s not usually what we hear in a state of the union address. Is that really the way to go? 

FRANK LUNTZ: He’s got to tell the truth. Which means you have to acknowledge where things are. You can’t tell people that happy days are here again and you’re in the middle of a depression. You can’t tell people that things are good. And by the way, it’s not inflation. So here’s an example of language. No one actually says, wow. Look at all of that inflation, when they walk through a supermarket. Or, think of inflation when they put gas in their tanks. The American people are paying more for everything they’ve got, and they wonder, is it ever gonna stop? They look at what’s going on in Ukraine and they wonder, have we lost our respect? They look at shortages that they went through and they wonder, are they ever gonna be able to get that house or the car that they want to buy? This is real. There’s a level of anxiety that I haven’t seen since the 1970s and I’d be curious to your reaction. Joe Biden ran as Harry Truman. He thought he was gonna govern as Franklin Roosevelt, but this, to me, looks just like Jimmy Carter in every possible way, and those people sitting in the chamber on the 1st of March are going to wonder from this President, is he going to do to them what Jimmy Carter did, which is give us Ronald Reagan? Is he gonna do to them is what Bill Clinton did which is…

[crosstalk] 

KARL:  Well to take the Carter analogy one step further on.. If you look at Axelrod’s advice, lean into the anxiety, humility. I mean he’s basically advising him to give a malaise speech. 

DONNA BRAZILLE: No!

RICK KLEIN: Axelrod touched a nerve with a lot of Democrats because the idea of kind of coming in with humility, sure, but saying things are rough that is not the tone that people have come to expect out of a President. And there’s a lot of Democrats, who I’ve heard from in the last couple of days who say we’ve got a lot to run on. We’ve come a long way, we’re getting better. We’ve got a lot to run against still in terms of what Republicans would offer. So to go in there and say, look, times are tough. That is, may sound good and I think Frank, you make a point about telling the truth. You can only spin so much when it comes to things like inflation, but Democrats still think they’ve got a lot of things to brag about. About the progress that’s being made and think they need to show people that they continue to deliver. That’s hard to wedge into a malaise-type speech. 

RACHEL BADE: But it is a tricky balance though because Democrats, a lot of them have been frustrated with President Biden going out there and saying inflation is “transitory.” Like it’s just temporary it’s going to go away and it’s been months now and it’s only gotten worse. And you know there was an interview just a few days ago where he attacked Lester Holt calling a wise guy for just asking questions that American voters whether they be Democrats, Independents or Republicans, are asking what are you gonna do about inflation? And so he does have to do things for frontliners who are up in 2022, and who are saying we need to tout our accomplishments like infrastructure, what we’ve done so far with the pandemic. But he’s really gotta be careful not to sound tone deaf like he has for the past couple of months when it comes to this inflation issue.

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