Presidential honeymoon periodLIM JONG-JU
The author is the Washington bureau chiefof the JoongAng Ilbo.
In 2009, an interesting paper was published in the American Journal of Applied Psychology on how long the satisfaction level of changing jobs lasts. After observing 132 people for a year, researchers found that the satisfaction level continued going up and peaked after three months. That is the honeymoon effect. Then it goes down and reaches a plateau.
In the same year that the paper was published, Gallup analyzed the honeymoon period of U.S. presidents. It was 26 months on average from 33rd President Harry Truman to 37th president Richard Nixon for them to be able to enjoy an average 55 percent approval rating. The honeymoon period of six presidents from Ford to George W. Bush was drastically shorter at seven months, mainly due to corruption issues, appointment fiascoes and other controversial policies.
Seven months after his inauguration, a recent Gallup poll shows that Biden’s approval rating was 50 percent. Since he was inaugurated on January 20, the rating fell 7 percent from 57 percent. Meanwhile, the negative rating jumped from 37 percent to 45 percent. Friendly media have declared an end to his honeymoon period.
The Taliban’s capture of Afghanistan is the worst news. It has been only four months since Biden declared to end the war that lasted 20 years. While he took pride in having achieved the initial goals of eliminating Osama bin Laden and ousting al-Qaeda, who were behind the 9/11 attacks, the last-minute withdrawal hurt America’s pride. It is a reminder of the humiliating withdrawal from the Vietnam War through the evacuation Operation Frequent Wind.
After Biden’s mask policy was retracted after two months, it raised doubts about his administration’s disease control capability. Spread of the virus and a surge of hospitalization turned the situation back to last winter, when things were still in the tunnel of darkness. On the southern border, illegal entries have doubled, prices are rising at the fastest rate in 13 years and an inflation warning is sounding.
The White House responded that President Biden was inaugurated at one of the most divided moments in the modern history of the U.S. They argued that expansion of vaccinations, economic revival and efforts to restore international leadership were not properly acknowledged due to factional rhetoric and Trump’s legacy.
Supporters even say that Biden has never had the honeymoon period as he has never enjoyed the approval rating of 70 percent as in the Truman/Eisenhower eras.
Anyone who misses the right timing will suffer irreversible and more severe ordeals. It is the undeniable reality that the Biden administration is already faced with.