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US politics

Give “Sleepy Joe” a break

Biden: a “remarkably successful record”  in Congress. Drew Angerer/Getty

Joe Biden must be the “most underestimated man of American politics”, says Stephen Collins in The Irish Times. The supposedly doddery old codger led his party to a “stunning performance” in the recent midterm elections, doing better than any Democratic president since John F Kennedy. And he has a “remarkably successful record” at getting big pieces of legislation through Congress, arguably achieving more in two short years than Bill Clinton or Barack Obama managed in two full terms. Yet there is “widespread reluctance to give him the credit he deserves”.

By obsessing over the odd “verbal slip” or fall off a bike, the media has put its weight behind Trump’s line that 80-year-old “Sleepy Joe” isn’t up to the job. But the “cynical pundits” pedalling this line – including many in the “intellectual elite” of his own party – would be hard pushed to keep up with Biden’s gruelling schedule. On top of dozens of trips abroad, he “criss-crossed” the US in the run up to the midterms, visiting 13 big cities and speaking at rallies that helped win the day. Then there was his marathon three-hour sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 in Indonesia last week. It’s worth remembering that both Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle “saved their countries” when already of pensionable age. Konrad Adenauer “rebuilt Germany from the ashes” after the Second World War, only retiring at 87. So ignore the gaffes. “It is too early to write Biden off.”