The presidency of Joe Biden has been like no other thus far. There was the militarized inauguration. There has yet to be an address to the joint session of Congress – essentially the incoming president’s first “State of the Union.” The new president has spent most of his term much as he did the majority of his campaign: sequestered safely away from COVID – or was it the public eye from which he hid?
He has finally broken his presidential silence, though, sitting down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for his first-ever presidential interview. What did he have to say? He offered up an abundance of words but few actual answers – and, in true Biden form, not all those answers were factually accurate. “Well,” as the president responded at one point, “I’ve only been here six weeks, pal, okay? Gimme a break.”
Vaccine VirtueGeorge Stephanopoulos
The historic interview began as any must in a pandemic – discussing the virus. Stephanopoulos set the scene: “So you’ve set out our goals for the country. One hundred million vaccine doses by next week, $100 million out the door. Every American eligible for the vaccine by – adult American by May 1. Something close to normal on July 4.”
Right out of the gate, Biden chose to hedge. “Well, first of all, I won’t even be able to meet the July 4 deadline unless people listen, wear masks, wash their hands, and socially distance because not everyone by July 4 will have been vaccinated.” The answer gives him the option of claiming credit should some normalcy return by Independence Day – and lets him blame the many Americans who are bound to ignore social distancing and masking guidelines if it doesn’t.
Then there are the folks who won’t get vaccinated. Biden calls it some kind of macho thing and implores anyone planning to skip the jab to be a patriot instead and protect other people. What good did Biden’s vaccine do? Well, he can hug his grandkids now and have them over to visit. What of reports that the vaccine won’t guarantee immunity? Ignore those, of course – and all those claims of vaccine injury and death, too.
Moving on to the border crisis, Stephanopoulos brought up the migrants who claim they’re only coming because Biden promised to make things better. First things first, the president deflected, saying there was a surge in 2019 and 2020 – ignoring the fact that more migrants are coming now that they expect to remain in the country while awaiting asylum decisions. Biden blasted Trump’s “kids in cages” again, but also said that adults were being sent back and that kids were being housed to the best of the authorities’ abilities. Reports now made public show that some of those kids sleep on cots and others sleep on the floor. In other words, essentially kids in cages. As Liberty Nation’s Mark Angelides explains, the clue is in the name:
“With FEMA, an agency that specifically deals with emergencies, and a request by DHS for a bevy of volunteers to help with the huge number of unaccompanied minors now sitting in what the Fourth Estate refuses to call “cages,” something is clearly afoot down Mexico way.”
But Biden finally has a new message for migrants: “Don’t come.” They should apply for asylum from home and await an answer there – sound familiar?
On the topic of the COVID relief package – and how to pay for it – Biden admitted that taxes are going to go up for corporations and anyone making more than $400,000 a year. When questioned about Republican support, Biden answered, “Oh, I may not get – but I’ll get the Democratic votes for a tax increase.” Rather than address the very real economic issues behind the increase, Biden accused Republicans of attacking the poor.
So, with slim chances of any Republican support for the tax hike, or for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, for that matter, what does the future hold for the filibuster? Biden says he won’t try to cut it entirely – but he is a fan of returning to the talking filibuster. To maintain a filibuster, legislators would have to “stand up and command the floor.”
Vlad the Mad and the Perks of Power
At one point, Stephanopoulos brought up Putin. Will the Russian leader pay the price for meddling in U.S. elections? He sure will, Biden assures us. What price? Well, “you’ll see shortly.” Biden then went on to say that he believes we can walk and chew gum at the same time – meaning that America can both punish Russia, somehow, and work with Putin at the same time when it needs to. To that end, he has even renewed the START nuclear agreement. But make no mistake; our president knows Putin. When asked if he thinks the Russian leader is a killer, Biden answered, “Uh-huh. I do.” But they have an understanding. President George W. Bush once said that he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw a soul. Biden later claimed to have taken the same look and experienced different results. Allegedly while alone with the Russian in his office, Biden claims to have stated that he “looked in your [Putin’s] eyes and I don’t think you have a soul.”
“We understand each other,” Putin allegedly replied. Whether that means he doesn’t believe he has a soul either or that he does believe Biden’s a fool, well, neither man ever publicly elaborated.
In any case, Biden says he’ll work with Putin when he needs to, regardless of the man’s behavior toward America. Another foreign leader who gets a free pass is Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Biden confirmed that he believes bin Salman was responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, and he plans to hold the nation accountable. But the crown prince? No, “we have never, that I’m aware of, when we have an alliance with a country, gone to the acting head of state and punished that person.” As the old saying goes, rank hath its privileges.
One of the biggest bombshells of the interview was Biden’s take on the Cuomo complaints. Traditionally, when a Republican is accused of any sexual misconduct, Democrats demand they resign or bow out of any election or nomination. When it’s a fellow Democrat, well, they tend to remember that little thing called due process and insist on innocence until proven guilty. It’s believe all women – unless they’re betraying the Democratic Party.
But Biden – like so many other Democrats, in this case – pulled no punches. The president stated that there’s an investigation going on and it’s important that this inquiry happen. If the allegations prove credible, then Cuomo needs to call it quits – and there might even be criminal charges. It may seem insignificant when compared to other topics discussed, but it is noteworthy that the president used his first interview in office to drive another nail in the Cuomo coffin.
A Day in the Doghouse
Stephanopoulos ended on a lighter note, asking if the president’s dog, Major, was “out of the doghouse.” The presidential pooch had bitten someone in the White House, it seems, and had been sent home for some behavioral training. After hemming and hawing on nearly every issue discussed in the interview and blaming Trump and the Republicans for all the problems, Biden may find Americans wish they could put him in the doghouse for a while. Though after so many years in the Swamp, it’s unlikely that any amount of training can teach that old dog to behave.
Read more from James Fite.