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Joe Biden was born during the Cold War Era. After five decades spent in Washington, this fact has become less of a legacy and more of a reward.
Elected to the Senate during Leonid Brezhnev’s time as the Soviet Union’s leader, Biden spent much of his career in Washington hanging out on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ClimbingIn his seniority eventually rising to the rank of top Democrat. Biden had already been in talks about Soviet nukes with Deng Xiaoping, and was later visiting Moscow to talk the same weapons with Kremlin. Biden’s lack of foreign policy knowledge was compensated by his hustle and broad smile. “There’s an old Chinese Please saying: better to travel 10,000 miles than read 10,000 books,” Biden would sayDuring his 2020 campaign for the presidency, he used this phrase frequently. And voters, after four years of Donald Trump’s isolationist approach to foreign policy, were ready to buy what Biden was selling.
In recent months, that hustle and a Rolodex built over the decades has served Biden and his team well as they’ve coordinated one of the most unified sanctions packages against Russia in History. Biden will be making his State of the Union Address tonight at the Capitol. His familiarity in foreign affairs will surely show during this speech, which is typically as focused on the domestic agenda than the international.
Biden returns to the Hill, but faces many domestic political challenges. The polls Please show Biden underwater—more disapprove of his job performance than approve of it—and a public deeply pessimistic about the direction of the country. He is at an all-time low in his numbers and his efforts to build a coalition are now foregone. SanctionRussia pays him, for the moment, no political dividends. He has not abandoned his domestic Build Back better plan ParkingPrevious attempts at overhauling police seem to be being rejected by the Senate DeadFor the remainder of 2018, a climate package appears to be in place shrinking rapidly. Ketanji brown Jackson was even nominated by him to become the first Black woman in office. on the Supreme Court hasn’t sparked much of a sizzle in the polls.
So Biden is expected to illustrate his core competency of the presidency during this evening’s speech, which will unfold with members of Congress in the chamber but none of the typical guests watching from the gallery one floor above. Biden’s deeply personal touch in negotiations may have failed to get the likes of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to climb aboard his domestic agenda, but it did land foreign allies behind a unified raft of sanctions against Moscow, including against some individuals in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
The sanctions chase wasn’t easy. The Administration was left with the task of pursuing its own pre-invasion sanction package after Congress gave up on it. Biden refused to listen to the pleas of Congressmen and told his staff that he would impose preemptive sanctions to stop Putin from entering Ukraine. Instead, Biden Rearranged U.S. forces in Europe to have the backs of NATO members—a move that goaded other nations to follow. Here’s a quick clip. declassification of intelligence about Putin’s strategy was meant as a soft nudge to Russia, the spycraft equivalent of a parent telling a child, I see what you’re doing.
But just off the screen, Biden’s team built a StructuringOf Sanktions that effectively cut off Russia’s access to a ton of Western capital once Putin advanced into Ukraine. Many The sanctions architects on Biden’s team Were veterans from the 2014 SeriesOf MovesAfter Russia invaded Crimea which was already occupied by Russia, the sanctions were imposed. Very littleRealität Effect on Putin’s policies. Biden would like to be president this time. It is more difficultAnd with a coalition which could block Putin from accessing dollars and pounds, euros, or yen.
Americans are more likely to support their wartime presidents. That hasn’t happened yet, but the non-stop news coverage is impossible to miss. And, in an era of social media, images purporting to be Russian targeting of civilians—and Ukrainian civilians’ willingness to fight back—have spread the story of Ukrainian resilience and Russian belligerence better than any Soviet-era propaganda.
To be sure, there is still plenty of risk for Biden’s sanctions gambit to go badly. While the U.S. military isn’t fighting in Ukraine right now, its technology and dollars remain engaged. Putin has shown he’s more than willing to launch cyber attacks on the United States. And don’t discount Putin’s appetite for revenge by proxy; just ask Hillary Clinton about her stolen EmailsAs a retribution to her harsher position against Moscow while she was Secretary of State.
Democrats also prepare for an economic downturn at home. Inflation already has become a campaign issue, as TIME’s Abby Vesoulis writes in A great story about how it’s unfolding in one Iowa House race. And Russia’s isolation from the world is all but guaranteed to lead to a surge in energy costs as its oil and gas become more ValuableIts European customers. You can add to this the cost of financing the relaunch of Cold War effort and deficit-hawks have their day. These same hawks would have to reject Trump’s tax cuts, and the profligate spending.
Finally, the sanctions don’t bear fruit immediately. For sanctions to take root, it takes some time. Study after study has FoundTheir utility is Limited. Although they are an effective tool, sanctions do not solve the problem. (A Treasury Department RevisionThe number of sanctions in place grew 10 fold between 2000 and 2021. This resulted in more than 9,400 individuals or groups being penalized.
Biden still knows how to tell stories. He doesn’t channel Irish poets for fun; he does it because it works with his crowds. For Biden, looking to restore the public’s faith in his competency argument, traveling back to the U.S.S.R. may be a one-way ticket to a second act. And with Congress increasingly unable to act on much else this year, pivoting to how he’s helped restore America’s role in the world may prove wise for Biden in tonight’s speech—especially if Washington isn’t going to let him pass any major domestic policies before the midterms.
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