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RICH LOWRY: Joe Biden should be angry and anxious

Who knows if Joe Biden is as “angry and anxious” about his re-election prospects as a new NBC News report portrays him. It could be that it’s ordinary ill temper from a politician prone to shouting in private (an Axios headline not too long ago dubbed Biden “old yeller”), or exaggerated reports from meetings at which typical salty language is used by old political pros hashing out strategy and tactics.

According to the piece, an anonymous lawmaker said Biden began “to shout and swear” when told that the Gaza war had hurt his standing in key swing states. NBC relates that Biden has been questioning travel and communications decisions, and complaining that he doesn’t get enough credit. As all struggling politicians tend to do, the president apparently believes that he’s being poorly served by staff and overly controlled and misdeployed. If only the public could see more of Joe Biden, they would be more enamored of Joe Biden is a natural thing for Joe Biden to believe.

Whether all of this is accurate or not, there’s no doubt that if Biden is not angry and anxious, he should be. Frequent outbursts are fully justified by the precarious state of his re-election bid. Biden’s approval rating of around 40 percent is in the danger zone, not anywhere close to his predecessors who won re-election, Barack Obama (52 percent), George W. Bush (48) or Bill Clinton (54). But he’s comfortably in range with Donald Trump (41), George H.W. Bush (34) and Jimmy Carter (37), all of whom, of course, lost.

For the love of God — doesn’t anyone here know how to do politics?!?

According to Gallup polling, immigration is considered the most important problem in the country, and only 28 percent approve of his handling of it.

I knew Kamala Harris would mess up the border. Didn’t I say so? Who remembers? I called it.

Grocery prices are up 21 percent since the beginning of 2021, an unmistakable reminder that, even as the inflation rate has abated, prices remain elevated and have eroded wages.

I need another speech on shrinkflation pronto, people.

Trump lost to Biden in 2020, 303 electoral votes to 235. It’s not hard to imagine a path to 270 for him this year. If all else stayed the same and he picked up Georgia and Arizona, he would be at 262, the cusp of victory. Adding one of the Blue Wall states, Michigan (15 electoral votes), Wisconsin (10) or Pennsylvania (19), would put him over the top.

Trump leads in Georgia in the head-to-head RealClearPolitics polling average by almost 6 points and hasn’t trailed in a poll in the state since last November, while he’s up more than 5 points in the polling average in Arizona and hasn’t trailed in a survey there since last March.

What the …

In Michigan, Trump has been leading in the last 10 polls and is ahead by 3.5 points in the average.

Holy…

Biden should be upset because no one likes the prospect of losing a presidential race. More profoundly, a loss to Trump would instantly vaporize what was to be Biden’s most important legacy — stopping Trump and supposedly saving American democracy. On his terms, Biden can’t afford to go one-for-two in this endeavor.

History isn’t usually kind to one-term presidents. A defeat would be particularly bad for Biden. It would expose his decision to run again for president at age 81, when he’s visibly in decline, as a historic blunder resulting from selfishness and an utter lack of realism. It would become undeniable that his pick of Harris, which helped keep Democrats from pushing for him to step aside, was a terrible mistake, and Democrats would be willing to say so.

In short, given the personal and political stakes for Biden and how daunting the landscape looks at the moment, Biden would be well-advised to be angry and anxious, very angry and anxious.

Rich Lowry is on X @RichLowry.

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