Instead, Psaki said, he spends his time “working for the American people” — head down and avoiding the limelight, as she’d no doubt have us believe. That pointed difference in the approach Biden takes relative to Trump was pitched as an asset during the campaign, with Biden’s team even releasing an ad promising that Biden would be a president you didn’t need to think about all the time. Of course, it is always useful for people in positions of power to avoid scrutiny, but the contrast with Trump’s hyperactivity nonetheless held some obvious appeal.
It also seems that Biden has delivered on the promise. One measure of what America is thinking about is Google search interest. During the last year of his presidency, Trump continually received more search interest than did Biden. After the election and, then, the inauguration, the amount of attention Trump was getting dropped. The amount of attention Biden got? It didn’t really increase.
In May, the sitting president got about five times as much search attention as his general election opponent. Now, instead of the two switching places, Trump has dropped to Biden levels of interest.
What’s more, that has happened across the board. Search interest in Trump has fallen in every state, with no real link between how much interest dropped and how Trump fared in the election. He has just moved to the background, where Biden has tried to squeeze in beside him.
Despite America’s newfound disinterest in its president, Republicans still hold skeptical views of how Biden approaches his job. Not in a policy sense, mind you — in his personal conduct.
Polling from the Pew Research Center shows Biden generally gets better marks than Trump did on how he conducts himself in office. In February 2020, most Americans said they didn’t like how Trump conducted himself; now, a plurality say they like how Biden approaches his job. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, though, that’s not true. More than half of that group dislikes how Biden conducts himself. It’s a lower percentage than the percentage of Democrats who said the same of Trump last year, but it’s still a majority.
On another question, the Republican response stands out even more. Respondents were asked whether the president had changed the nature or tone of the political debate for the better or the worse. In June, most Americans said Trump had changed it for the worst. In the Pew poll, more than 6 in 10 Republicans said the same of Biden.
Again, Biden gets better numbers overall than Trump. But that so many Republicans say they dislike Biden’s conduct and believe he has changed the political debate for the worse seems clearly to be something that he had hoped to avoid.
It does cast Cornyn’s complaints in a new light, though. Perhaps the senator, like others in his party, believes that Biden’s failure to rail against his opponents in coarse language on social media is an erosion of the standard of political debate we’d come to expect. If so, it’s no wonder that Biden’s conduct is met with so much disapproval.