I once again offer my annual lists of the 10 best and 10 worst things the president did this year. Regular readers know I have been highly critical of President Joe Biden during his first year in office – so, in the spirit of the season, we’ll start with the best things he did:
10. He launched the first test of a new system to defend Earth from a killer asteroid. On his orders, NASA launched a rocket into space testing “whether a spacecraft can nudge a celestial body in a way that will alter its orbit.”
9. He twice launched airstrikes against Iranian proxy forces in Iraq and Syria. He continued the Trump policy of taking military action against Iranian-backed forces who threaten or attempt to kill U.S. personnel.
8. He became the first president to resist Turkish pressure and officially acknowledge its 1915 genocide against Armenians. His statement sent a clear message that the United States would hold even allies to account for abuses of human rights.
7. He recovered the majority of the ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline to a Russian hacking collective. After the company paid ransomware attackers who shut down its computer systems and caused fuel shortages up and down the East Coast, the Biden Justice Department followed the money and seized 63.7 bitcoin, valued at $2.3 million.
6. He sidelined the court-packing movement on the left. Biden created a commission that included sensible liberals and conservatives who steered clear of taking a position on the most controversial ideas for changing the court.
5. He elevated Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the “Quad”) between the United States, Australia, India and Japan. After eight dormant years under then-President Barack Obama, the Quad was reinvigorated by the Trump administration and raised to a ministerial-level meeting. Biden elevated it further to an annual leader-level meeting, rallying the Indo-Pacific democracies to counter China and help lead Asia in the direction of peace and security.
4. He stepped up U.S. support for Taiwan. He invited Taiwan to participate in his 110-nation Summit for Democracy, invited Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to his inauguration, invited Taiwan to share its expertise at the Global COVID-19 Summit and continued to provide Taiwan with the defense capabilities it needs to defend itself against Chinese aggression. And his administration worked hard to beat back efforts by the People’s Republic of China to squeeze countries to de-recognize Taiwan.
3. He announced a historic trilateral security agreement with Australia and Britain to counter Chinese hegemony. The new pact will help Australia develop nuclear submarine capabilities that will allow it to project power in the Pacific, and increases cooperation on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
2. He accelerated COVID vaccine delivery at home and abroad. In the United States, more than 70% of American adults are fully vaccinated. And his administration provided more than 300 million doses – more than the rest of the world combined – to 110 countries free of charge. He also launched the Global Covid Corps, a coalition of companies that will support vaccination efforts in developing countries.
1. He signed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. Biden campaigned on a promise to usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation. Sadly, this was the only major piece of legislation to deliver on that promise. It will provide non-inflationary, long-term investments in roads, bridges, ports and waterways. Its passage also saved the filibuster, by delivering for Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia – the two lonely Democrats standing in the way of filibuster elimination – and vindicating their effort to reach across the aisle.
Other achievements didn’t make the top 10. Among the honorable mentions: Biden issued an executive order prohibiting Americans from investing in 59 Chinese firms that allegedly are linked to the Chinese military; he signed bipartisan legislation to ban the import of products produced with Uyghur slave labor; he announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, a pointed snub to protest the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses without hurting U.S. athletes; and he launched an initiative to find deported U.S. veterans and bring them and their families back to America.
There were also a number of policies that nearly made the list, until Biden reversed himself. He told a CNN town hall that if Taiwan were attacked, the United States would come to its defense – seemingly ending our misguided policy of “strategic ambiguity” – but then the White House backtracked and said there was no change in policy. He called Russian President Vladimir Putin a killer and promised to oppose the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, but then greenlighted the project – a major victory for the Russian leader. Both of these would have made the 10 best if he had followed through.
In my next column, we’ll review the 10 worst things Biden has done.