As summer comes to an end, it has been the best of times and worst of times for President Joe Biden. From checking off a list of progressive goodies in his Build Back Better agenda to plummeting energy prices, it looked like Biden and the Democrats were cruising to a better-than-expected performance in the November midterm elections. Like a typical speech from the president, conditions have turned into mush, with the economy back in focus as a buck buys a nickel’s worth. This was spotlighted in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired Sept. 18 – and the reviews have been coming in faster than a White House official correcting a Biden statement.
Joe Biden: What Inflation?
The segment began with network personality Scott Pelley alluding to the August inflation rate of 8.3%, followed by a tanking stock market. “People are shocked by their grocery bills,” the host said, “What can you do better and faster?” The president was not taken aback by the question. Instead, he claimed that the inflation rate, when assessing it on a month-over-month basis, was up “hardly at all.”
When asked to clarify if he thought 8.3% “is good news,” Biden responded incoherently about inflation falling to 8.2% and then discussed how energy prices have come down, ten million new jobs have been created, and “this is a process.” While he refrained from pledging to the American people that the elevated consumer price index (CPI) would come down, Biden told the host “that we’re gonna get control of inflation.” Whether it is health care costs or energy prices, “I’m more optimistic than I’ve been in a long time” that the administration will soon gain control of rampant price inflation, he said.
When asked about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, Biden discussed a potential “soft landing” and shifting to an economic landscape with steady growth and well-paying jobs. In addition, he reiterated that he slashed the federal deficit by nearly $2 trillion in his first two years in office and that the economy is “growing in a way that it hasn’t in years.”
The United States slipped into a technical recession following back-to-back negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates in the first half of 2022. The federal deficit was slashed because COVID-era stimulus and relief efforts expired. Also, his claim that he cut $1.5 trillion from the national debt is untrue because the Treasury Department plans to pay only $26 billion to the national debt, which has swelled to above $31 trillion under his watch.
One of the most talked about parts of the 60 Minutes segment was the president discussing the China-Taiwan conflict. For decades, standard US policy has been that Washington recognizes Taiwan as part of China, but stays quiet on whether the American military would defend the island. “This is among the places where our interview runs into controversy,” Pelley said.
Biden reaffirmed his administration’s recognition of the One China policy and that Taiwan can make decisions about its independence. However, US forces would defend the island “if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.” Pelley asked for clarification of the president’s remarks, wanting to confirm that American men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion. “Yes,” the commander-in-chief replied.
This response soon had to be backtracked by administration staffers. According to CBS, a White House official contacted 60 Minutes and informed the program that “officially, the US will not say whether American forces would defend Taiwan.” In addition, soon after the interview was aired, the Chinese foreign ministry submitted “stern representations” to the United States.
On the subject of Russia and Ukraine, the president stuck to the talking points: condemn President Vladimir Putin, champion the leadership in Kyiv, commit to as much funding as possible to ensure Moscow’s defeat, and warn of consequences in the event of chemical or nuclear weapons.
COVID-19: Mission Accomplished
Biden declared that “the pandemic is over.” Despite this declaration, he conceded that “we still have a problem with COVID” and that his administration is “still doing a lotta work on it.” That said, with nobody wearing masks at the Detroit Auto Show, “everybody seems to be in pretty good shape.” The left was not pleased by the comment, with MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan tweeting that people are not wearing masks “because people like Biden keep (falsely) telling them the pandemic is over.”
2024: To Run or Not to Run
Wait a minute. Is President Biden running for the White House again in 2024 or not? “Here,” Pelley interjected, “is another place where our interview may cause controversy.” Biden refrained from committing to running for re-election in a couple of years because “a whole range of things come into play … requirements I have to change and move and do in terms of election laws.”
“Look, my intention as I said to begin with is that I would run again. But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen,” Biden stated. Despite being the oldest president in US history, he thinks he is still in “pretty good shape,” urging people to “watch me.”
“You know, I mean, it’s a matter of that old expression: The proof of the pudding’s in the eating,” he explained. “I respect the fact that people would say, ‘You’re old.’ But I think it relates to how much energy you have, and whether or not the job you’re doing is one consistent with what any person of any age would be able to do.”
Striking Out from a Softball?
Unless his name was Donald Trump, it has been rare for the mainstream media at prime time to hurl 100-mph two-seam fastballs – with a little bit of hair on them – at the president. Instead, they tend to toss 46-mph eephus pitches that can be knocked out of the ballpark. Despite this, Joe Biden might have struck out on two crucial topics: inflation and Taiwan. According to the current commander-in-chief, price inflation is no big deal because it moved up “just an inch,” and the United States could enter a deadly global conflict across the Pacific Ocean. Was this the powwow that sank the presidency in 60 minutes?