Biden’s apology in Glasgow shows hypocrisy, powerlessness of US politicians
Published: Nov 02, 2021 08:53 PM
Trump and Biden

Trump and Biden

US President Joe Biden apologized at the start of the COP26 UN climate summit. On Monday, when Biden made the remarks during a meeting on "action and solidarity" in Glasgow, he said, "I guess I shouldn't apologize, but I do apologize for the fact the US, under the last administration, pulled out of the Paris accord." What a "noble" apology, which made Biden seem like he cares about climate change, but also how hypocritical and powerless he is. 

Unlike what Biden may have expected, the apology triggered ridicule. Quite a few netizens, including those from the US, claimed they cannot wait until 2024 when the Republican Party, or even Donald Trump himself, apologizes for Biden's apology. Most people believe this was hardly an apology, but a slap in the face of his predecessor, a move to pin all the blame on Trump. This is not about how sorry Biden is. He was making a show and bringing US political infighting to the global arena. 

Climate change is one of the most highly polarizing issues in the US. Leading Republicans, most notably Trump, have mocked the issue as a hoax and are reluctant to take it seriously. In March, 12 Republican-led states sued Biden for his executive orders on climate change. 

So if there is anything that Biden did bring to Europe, it must be a massive 85-car and gas-guzzling motorcade. Other than that, Biden can only make empty promises at COP26. His apology does not make any sense, as he has no plan to fulfill his promises and no guarantee to make sure that his commitment won't be toppled by the next administration. Worse, he cannot even win enough support from his own party to get a green light for his plan. Also on Monday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said he would not endorse a $1.75 trillion framework on social spending and climate change unveiled by Biden last week. For Biden, who is in Europe and waiting for something to deliver to the world, this is heavy blow. 

"Biden's remarks remind me of the scene when Democratic lawmakers got down on their knees for George Floyd, whose death sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as Biden's face-to-face apology to France for the US' 'clumsy' Australian submarine deal," Xu Liang, an associate professor at the School of International Relations of the Beijing International Studies University, told Global Times. Those cases show that the declining US is trapped in a predicament where the best option is to apologize. If the US still has teeth, it will definitely not become that humble, Xu said. 

In an interview aired two days before Biden apologized for Trump, the ex-president described Biden as "the worst presidency in history" and gave Biden an "F" grade. Their "interactions" make people wonder whether the presidential campaign is over. 

Biden, who once shouldered high hopes of Americans, has been disappointing his people. If Trump's biggest failure was the disastrous handling of the novel coronavirus, Biden is not doing much better. US COVID-19 deaths topped 400,000 when Trump was in power. As of press time, the number of confirmed deaths from the virus in the country is over 745,800. It means the figure when Biden is in office is catching up with that of Trump. Not to mention the catastrophic US economy and chaotic supply chain in the country. 

Because of the US system, presidents often face restrictions and constraints on domestic issues, but they are supposed to be much more powerful on foreign policy, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told Global Times. If Biden could bring his diplomatic skills into full play and be more courageous, like lowering some tariffs imposed on China, he may confront huge pressure temporarily, but won't feel the so much pain today, until US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted that a reciprocal rollback of some tariffs could be a "desirable outcome," Lü said. He added that if Biden did it earlier, the compromise could be seen as goodwill and courage. But if he ends up being forced to make the decision, he is going to be accused of being a loser by his political opponents. The case with China is only one of many examples that reflect the US' "clumsy" diplomatic strength. 

Is there a worst president of the US? Perhaps there is no "worst" but only "worse." American voters always have high expectations during elections but will soon become frustrated. Can a US president turn the tide? It is worrying. But one thing is certain - political infighting will continue, which is exhausting US strength in dealing with domestic and global issues.

There will be more apologies from US politicians, and there will be more kneeling down, Xu said.