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Keller @ Large: President Biden's Ratings Will Improve When Quality Of Life Improves

BOSTON (CBS) - Joe Biden's presidency began one year ago with the hope that he could ease our nightmare by lowering the political temperature and uniting the country in the war against COVID-19.

Neither hope has been realized.

After an early surge, vaccination rates were stalled by the vaccine's unexpected politicization.

The shift to a pandemic of the unvaccinated heighted the toxic divide between the vaxxed and unvaxxed and made a mockery of Biden's rosy forecasts.

And when inflation hits a 40-year high on your watch, look out below.

"He would get an F for failing the American people," says Congressman Steve Scalise (R– Louisiana). And after a good start, Biden's approval ratings have cratered to Trumpian levels.

But despite bitter partisan opposition and schisms within Biden's own party, a look back at the ups and downs of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan show that a rough first year in office can be overcome fairly quickly. For Reagan, economic recovery was his path to higher ratings. For Clinton, it was the overreach of right-wing Republicans who took over the House of Representatives.

Could that history repeat itself?

If inflation eases, a fully employed America might feel better about Biden's economic management.

As the story behind January 6th unravels, Republicans who tried to hide the truth may face harsh public reckoning.

But in the long run, Biden will face the same hurdle that did in his predecessor - projecting competence and showing results in our debilitating battle with the virus.

The president will have a major opportunity to sharpen his message on March 1st when he delivers the State of the Union address, but no speech or press conference will turn his ratings around. That can only happen when the quality of life improves for most Americans. And given the unpredictable and global nature of the pandemic, that's not something entirely within his power to make happen.

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