Feeling nostalgic for the kind of “open book” governance pledged to us by President Obama, who promised the most transparent administration in history – then, by most accounts, delivered the exact opposite? After watching the sausage being made during the typhoon of tweets Trump delivered daily for four years – the actual most transparent presidency in history – you’re probably good and ready to have the truth obscured once again, right?
Here are a few fun facts: Joe Biden has not held a press conference in the almost 60 days since his inauguration. As a frame of reference, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump each held five press conferences by this juncture, George W. Bush held three, and Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan both held two. Having just referred to his running mate as “President Harris” (wishfully?) Biden may not have the cognitive capabilities for the usual lightning round challenges of a press conference proper – especially if he decides to take questions from the media. Somewhere in all the leftist fawning, there is bound to be a spoiler who asks something designed to flummox him, like “Mr. President – can you point out your wife?”
To be fair, Mr. Biden was entombed in a basement for much of 2020, where he carried out what appeared to be a Machiavellian and phenomenally successful campaign to get the least likely person elected to the White House in a half-century by simply doing nothing. He is understandably a little out of practice doing the press conference thing. Also – maybe a little tired. After all, he just finished up a whirlwind crusade of signing 37 executive orders to change America so radically it could make Obama gasp. And he did that seated at his desk in the Oval Office, pen in hand.
The guy deserves a nap.
But a funny thing happened on the giddy “Roll-Back Ride” Biden’s been on ever since he began to obliterate Trump’s legacy by executive order just because he can. One of the things Orange Man Bad had gotten a handle on by fits and starts was the ongoing issue of security at our Southern border. Like a teenager in full rebellion against his parents, eager to run out into a crowded street just because he’s sick of being told not to, Biden reversed any gains made at the border without thinking. And now – even though Press Secretary Jen “Circle Back” Psaki fixed her slip-up by changing her first c-word (“crisis”) with a less worrisome one (“challenge”) – everyone knows full well what it is: The border situation is a crisis headed toward catastrophe.
So how do you solve a problem like the border? If you are President Biden, you effectively issue a gag order to the agents employed there, instructing them not to talk to the media or divulge pertinent information of any kind. Forget the “ride-alongs” with border agents for the press. All queries for information must be sent through the Swamp for approval. Neither the Department of Homeland Security nor U.S. Customs and Border Protection have offered any media tours. Data is being tightly contained, and migrant numbers have been explicitly forbidden from being shared – or leaked. Many news organizations have requested photographs of kids in cages – pardon me – of “overflow facilities” – to no avail.
So how is this bureau-fascist attempt to apply a fetching shade of lipstick to the pig in the room going?
Biden’s loudly trumpeted intention to initiate a more “humane” policy at the border has encouraged vast numbers of people – young and old – to make the long and dangerous journey through Mexico and on to the U.S. border. It is widely reported to be the largest wave of immigrants coming to America in 20 years. Coaxing people from all over the world to cross over, “undocumented,” into the land of milk and honey, where they will receive free healthcare, a myriad of social services, public education, and not be tested for COVID-19 the way America’s citizens are is an attractive lure. And the presidential gag order is a perfect way to obscure the truth and create an opacity that laughs at transparency.
In exchange for welcoming enough new Americans that they may never again lose an election, local or national, the Biden administration and the Democrats will need to bring some basic level of competency to bear in dealing with a problem that has so far ballooned beyond all efforts to manage it. Is there a kinder, gentler way to deal with a humanitarian crisis that has the potential to become epic in proportion? As Ambassador Roberta Jacobson, the administration’s coordinator for the southern border, admitted this week, “We are trying to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Somewhere, President Biden is loosening his collar in relief that he isn’t being asked to do the very same thing.
Read more from author Pennel Bird.