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Will Americans blame Biden or just feel sorry for him?

There’s more bad news for President Joe Biden when it comes to voter sentiment about his performance in office. But there’s also reason to believe that some voters may not hold him entirely responsible for the results of his governance.


This column will offer the usual caveat that polls should not be treated as precise measurements of public opinion. But there is a continuing trend across a variety of surveys showing eroding support for the President.

Now Megan Brenan reports that the latest Gallup survey shows Mr. Biden’s approval rating falling to “43%, the lowest of his presidency. For the first time, a majority, 53%, now disapproves of Biden’s performance." She adds:


Independents have shown the greatest variation in their opinions of how Biden is doing. Biden’s current 37% approval rating among independents is his lowest to date and 24 points below his personal high of 61%. Two-thirds of Biden’s slide among independents since he took office has occurred in the past three months.


The Pew Research Center reports the results of its own survey, which shows a similarly abrupt decline in support:


With his administration facing multiple challenges at home and abroad, President Joe Biden’s job approval rating has fallen sharply in the past two months. Fewer than half of U.S. adults (44%) now approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 53% disapprove. This marks a reversal in Biden’s job ratings since July, when a 55% majority approved of his job performance and 43% disapproved.


Majorities in the Pew survey don’t express confidence in Mr. Biden on most issues. But there’s also bad news for the White House when questions move beyond specific policy issues. Pew explains:


Biden continues to draw less confidence for unifying the country than on dealing with specific issues; only about a third (34%) are confident he can bring the country closer together, a 14 percentage point decline since March.


Assessments of Biden’s personal traits also have become less positive. While majorities say he stands up for what he believes in (60%) and cares about the needs of ordinary people (54%), larger shares described Biden in these terms six months ago (66% and 62%, respectively).


And then there’s that other personal trait, which may lead some voters to refrain from criticizing Mr. Biden even when his policies fail to generate positive results. Pew report


Biden receives his least positive assessments for being mentally sharp. Currently, 43% say this describes Biden very or fairly well, an 11-point decline since March.


Yes, according to the Pew survey we are being governed by a man whom 56% of Americans do not describe as “mentally sharp". This includes 35% who think the term describes him “not at all well" and another 21% who say “not too well".


Speaking of policy failures, there is the continuing disaster resulting from the manner of Mr. Biden’s departure from Afghanistan. Sawsan Morrar and Jason Pohl report for the Sacramento Bee:


Sacramento-area school districts are still identifying more students stranded in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, weeks after the U.S. completed its withdrawal from the country.

San Juan Unified School District officials on Monday said 41 students were trapped in Afghanistan — a sharp increase from the two-dozen-or-so the district had previously identified. Of the 41 kids, three were evacuated over the weekend from the war-torn country but remain overseas, district officials said.


Sacramento City Unified officials on Monday said eight students are stranded in Afghanistan. Initially, they’d identified just one family who The Sacramento Bee interviewed. Attendance records as the school year has progressed showed more students were missing, and staff traced their whereabouts to the country...

“It really needs to be a coordinated effort by the government because these families are in danger," Kent Kern, superintendent of San Juan Unified, said Monday in an interview with Capital Public Radio.


That is for sure. Kathy Gannon reports for the Associated Press from Kabul:

One of the founders of the Taliban and the chief enforcer of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law when they last ruled Afghanistan said the hard-line movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public.


Whether one ascribes the abandonment of our people and our friends in Afghanistan to the President’s character or his cognition, voters may decide it is unacceptable.


James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival."