During the recent UN General Assembly meeting, President Joe Biden delivered a speech that sparked a comparison to the time when the world laughed at former President Donald Trump. The X (formerly Twitter) account of Republicans against Trump reminded users of the moment when representatives from different nations erupted in laughter as Trump boasted about his administration’s accomplishments. While Trump did not intend his claims to be a punchline, the laughter displayed a reaction to what seemed far-fetched and unreasonable.
This raises the question of whether American leadership is now more respected than it was under Trump. A brief look at the official White House transcript of Biden’s General Assembly speech suggests that the answer is “no.” Just in his second sentence, Biden misspoke about his recent trip to Vietnam, where he met veterans from both the US and Vietnam. Later on, the White House had to correct another instance of misspeaking. These instances, coupled with Biden’s visible decline in recent years, created a perception of a stumbling and bumbling president.
It is worth noting that Biden’s extensive political career, including his time in the Senate’s foreign affairs committee and as vice president in the Obama administration, makes him familiar to many diplomats and world leaders. However, seeing a visibly diminished Biden struggling through his address likely elicits pity from those who remember him as sharper and more articulate. It is disheartening to witness the decline of an 80-year-old leader to the point where it feels like elder abuse.
The sentiment extends beyond the international stage. An April poll by Associated Press/NORC revealed that only 26% of respondents wanted Biden to run for re-election in 2024, while 73% believed he shouldn’t. Many believe that Biden’s age makes him unfit for another term, despite his pledge to run again. Furthermore, the poll also indicated that a majority of people do not want Trump to run either due to the criminal charges related to his attempts to undermine the 2020 presidential election. The perception among international observers is that these two choices may not reflect the best America has to offer.
This situation at the UN reflects where America stands in the world today. Under Trump, the world laughed at the US as he damaged vital political and military partnerships. Now, there is a sense of pity towards America and its declining prestige. The Trump era might have been more dramatic and bombastic, but the Biden era carries a quiet sense of shame.
If Trump were to be elected for a second term, he might withdraw the US from NATO, an institution regarded as outdated by some. Conversely, Biden, who was expected to unite the world under the American banner, has fallen short of those expectations. In either scenario, US leadership is in an irreversible decline, leaving space for emerging powers and innovative structures to fill the global vacuum.
The upcoming election offers the American people a challenging predicament regarding their nation’s position as the leading hegemon. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that Uncle Sam will no longer be the dominant power within the next five years. Both candidates carry their respective flaws, and the US leadership continues to lose its luster.
It is essential to note that the opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and may not represent those of RT.