Inflation, and in particular gas prices, seems to be driving President Joe Biden’s unpopularity right now. This is how it goes for presidents: Policy outcomes, especially on the economy, are what matter to voters — whether or not the administration has much short-term influence on them. If we want to examine how well the president is actually doing, sometimes a better approach is to step back and look more clearly at the areas under his control. Here are five overlooked policy areas: two in which the Biden administration is doing well, without much of anyone noticing; two where things go wrong; and a mixed one. Even on these issues, the results do not depend solely on the actions of the administration. But maybe they’ll give us a clearer picture of Biden’s quality as president. Booster failed. Eric Topol reports, “Following one of the world’s worst first booster shots among developed countries, of more than 112 million Americans over the age of 50, only about 5 million had a second booster shot. ” After the huge success of the development of the original vaccines (under the presidency of Donald Trump), further progress seems to be stalled in the search for updates that will stop the current variants. And if there’s a serious campaign to get people up and running, I haven’t noticed. I’ve heard or seen more PSAs to prevent wildfires and keep boats safe (from good causes, of course) than I’ve been vaxxed and boosted in the past few months; there is virtually nothing in the media that emphasizes the importance of getting additional shots. Even Biden, who was always talking about the subject, moved on. The truth is, messaging has been a flop since late last spring. Not good. Alliance success. We’re over 100 days away from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it’s quite remarkable how well the anti-Putin alliance has held firm. No, American allies don’t always do exactly what Biden wants, but no matter what happens on the ground, it’s hard to criticize the diplomatic effort. This is hardly automatic: many previous crises, from Suez in 1956 to Libya in 2011, have revealed all sorts of divisions. The credit is shared by all the nations involved, and perhaps also by both Vladimir Putin (for making the need for collaboration so obvious) and Volodymyr Zelenskiy (for being such a good rallying point). Still, the United States is the leader of the alliance and has the biggest responsibility, and so far at least Biden and the State Department deserve a lot of credit for keeping things together. Failure of refugees. The United States virtually stopped taking in refugees during Trump’s presidency. It was politics. Biden’s policy is basically to go back to how things were, but so far the results have not matched the policy. It may be true that it is easier to destroy a policy than to build one, but there are not many signs of meaningful effort on this one. It’s a good reminder that policies are not self-made. If presidents really want to make things happen, they have to work on it. It is fairly well known that 13 American soldiers lost their lives during the withdrawal from Afghanistan last August. What is perhaps less well known is that these are the only such deaths in Afghanistan during Biden’s presidency – and there have still been no deaths among soldiers in Iraq since January. 2021. During Trump’s presidency, the combined death toll (in Afghanistan and Iraq/Syria) rose to 37 in 2017, 31 in 2018, 36 in 2019 and 22 in 2020. Biden has been the subject of much criticism on how the withdrawal was carried out, and some objected to leaving Afghanistan. But it is more than a footnote that after 20 years the steady stream of deaths among American soldiers has, at least for now, finally stopped.