And on the subject of blame, you’re right: Biden didn’t cause shipping delays or rising gas prices (though presidents often have to answer for such matters regardless). He’s not the source of congressional obstructionism. But I focused on that obstructionism because he campaigned on the assertion that he knew how to work the levers of Congress especially well. So he has invited judgment about how well he works them, no matter the uncontrollable dynamics at hand.
The second: Journalists tend toward melodrama, evident in sloppy word choices. You noted my reference to the “plummet” of Biden’s job-approval rating, arguing that while it had dropped significantly — according to Quinnipiac’s polling, for example, it fell to 41 percent in early October from 49 percent in late July — “plummet” implies circumstances worse and less predictable than that. You’re right. I gave insufficient thought to that description.
The third: Biden needs cheerleaders, not detractors. Otherwise, we end up with Donald Trump again! I’d argue that critical appraisals of Biden aren’t dangerous but necessary, in large part to point him and Democrats toward victory over Trump and his enablers. These appraisals shouldn’t make or even imply any equivalence between Biden’s troubles and Trump’s outrages. Mine didn’t. And never will.
For the Love of Sentences
Sometimes a columnist speaks for just a small subset of readers. The opposite of that is Bret Stephens in The Times on the junior senator from Texas: “Ted Cruz is to my brain what durian fruit is to my nose.” (Thanks to Miki Smith of Worton, Md., and David Calfee of Lake Forest, Ill., for nominating this.)
Staying on the topic of political revulsion, here’s Michael Gerson, who once wrote speeches for President George W. Bush, in The Washington Post: “In my political youth, conservatives praised state governments as ‘laboratories of innovation.’ Now they’re graveyards of sanity and public spirit. And the actual graveyards provide evidence.” (Christine Allen, Charlotte, N.C.)
Also in The Washington Post, a survey of Apple upgrades by Chris Velazco and Tatum Hunter notes, skeptically, a new $4.99-a-month Apple Music Voice plan for playing songs upon verbal command: “The details are hazy, but anyone familiar with Siri’s constant mistakes and misfires may be shuddering. If I wanted to pay money to be consistently misunderstood, I’d buy a plane ticket to my mother’s house.” (Joe Hornung-Scherr, Holland, Neb.)