Well, well, well — Joe Biden seems to be making something of a comeback. His approval rating, which dropped to 37 percent in July, has gone back up to 42 percent, which is a reasonably healthy figure for a commander-in-chief at this stage in his first term. The last two Democratic occupants of the White House — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — both scored somewhere in the low forties in the August of their second year in charge.

It’s a remarkable turnaround. For the last year, at least, the elderly president has looked clapped out...

Well, well, well — Joe Biden seems to be making something of a comeback. His approval rating, which dropped to 37 percent in July, has gone back up to 42 percent, which is a reasonably healthy figure for a commander-in-chief at this stage in his first term. The last two Democratic occupants of the White House — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — both scored somewhere in the low forties in the August of their second year in charge.

It’s a remarkable turnaround. For the last year, at least, the elderly president has looked clapped out and frail — a terrifyingly inept leader in troubled times. The embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan, the inflationary crisis, the violent crime waves and the endless clips of poor Joe looking and sounding confused. It all seemed so hopeless.

In recent weeks, however, something may have changed. Democratic analysts, with the midterms in mind, like to say that their Republican opponents have put off vast swathes of the American public with their extremism on abortion and guns — or that the increasingly real prospect of a Trump 2024 campaign has pushed wavering voters back towards their party. Some of that may be true. Certainly, Democratic fundraising enjoyed a strong few weeks after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

But shifts in American politics are often best understood through the economy, stupid. And here there have been glimpses of good news. Inflation isn’t coming down but it isn’t getting worse. The US has masses of its own resources, so it is not facing the same energy crisis as Europe. American liquified natural gas and petroleum exports are hitting new highs. The record employment numbers that Team Biden likes to boast about keep getting better. The euro is at a two-decade low against the dollar.

So — has the Biden administration simply been doing a brilliant impression of bungling inadequacy while gearing America up for a great recovery? Has his luck finally turned?

Another more immediate explanation offers itself. The Biden administration has enjoyed a few legislative “wins” of late, which means it has managed to pass some bills. The Inflation Reduction Act may have been deceptively named, as critics on the right and left (including Bernie Sanders) have pointed out that it will do little to lower inflation. But by promising to lower drug costs, protect workers, create “clean energy” jobs and make mega-rich corporations pay more, the legislation appeared to address voter concerns.

The White House has remembered that if you give voters money, they find ways to like you. Biden’s student loan “forgiveness” plan — that, as its many critics on the right point out, simply takes money from one group of taxpayers and gives it to another — is nonetheless a bold move that will appeal to many young Americans and their parents. To Hell with the economics — it’s good politics, at least in the very short term.

Is this leadership, though — or boondoggling? Time will tell. Biden enjoyed a 55 percent approval rating in his first few months in the White House. That was partly because of a widespread disgust at the way the Trump presidency ended. It was also because Biden soon rolled out several multi-trillion spending plans, including substantial cash giveaways to every American. But that quickly faded as voters faced the ugly reality of the post-pandemic economy.

Will Biden’s latest poll lift peter out in a similar way? Or will America’s built-in advantages in the global economy mean that he somehow can reinvent himself as a great statesman? Stranger things have happened.

This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.