In the prelude to the 2020 election, much speculation was made of the mental state of then-candidate Joe Biden. Were the comments and the questions merely partisan attacks designed to derail his electoral hopes, or has the American public been sold a president in premature decline?
This may be a more difficult question to answer when it’s understood that direct lines of communication are effectively closed and that there is an army of gatekeepers ready to defend, explain, and cover for the gaffe-prone president. The Team Biden Rapid Response activists, many of whom are themselves members of the Fourth Estate, seem ready, willing, and able to run cover for the numerous errors and contradictions that erupt from the White House occupant.
It is on the subject of China and relations with the growing economic powerhouse that Joe Biden’s confusing and confused statements most come to light. In a manner best left to romantic comedies, this “will he, won’t he” method of international diplomacy has become not only frustrating, but downright dangerous.
During the Milwaukee town hall hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the president was asked about the Chinese Uighur Muslims. He began his answer by stating: “We must speak up for human rights. It’s who we are!” Biden then segued into insisting that “when they haven’t been unified at home,” it’s because China has been victimized by the outside world.
Does this mean that it is President Trump’s fault that an estimated one million Uighurs are in work camps? Or was this a way of laying the blame on white nationalists? A confusing interlude, nonetheless, made more confusing by what followed. He said:
“The central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that. I point out to him, no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States. And so the idea I’m not going to speak out against what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uighurs in western mountains of China, and Taiwan, trying to end the One-China policy by making it forceful, I said – by the way, he said he gets it.”
Please feel free to read that paragraph again. Not only does the syntax not work, but it is also contradictory and leads nowhere. He concludes this less than graceful response by saying: “Culturally, there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow.” Concentration camps, accusations of genocide, suppression of protest are all apparently just cultural norms to President Biden.
Facts? Not So Much
While discussing the planned rollout of the COVID vaccine, he stressed the difficulties involved, saying:
“It’s one thing to have the vaccine, which we didn’t have when we came into office, but a vaccinator. How do you get the vaccine into someone’s arm?”
Within minutes, media outlets were playing defense and “explaining” this apparent falsehood. As has been widely reported, prior to the January 20 inauguration, up to one million people per day were receiving their vaccine. CNN’s own fact-checker, Daniel Dale, jumped to the president’s aid, writing:
“Biden had said just prior that there were ‘only’ 50 million vaccine doses when he took office. I’m looking into that claim (and a bunch of other claims Biden made tonight), but he clearly wasn’t trying to claim the vaccine did not exist at all under Trump.”
And this is the heart of the issue. Biden would say one thing and then another that was completely at odds with the former.
Lost in Translation?
At times, President Biden speaks with great clarity and pace; other times he comes across like a drunk at a cocktail party trying to remember the punchline of a joke. The issue is perhaps not that he gets lost in his thoughts while trying to explain things, or that he contradicts himself – sometimes in the same paragraph – but that the Fourth Estate is covering for him and, it seems, protecting him from the public.
If no one tells you that you ramble, you will never stop. If your friends do not let you know that you have a personal hygiene issue, you’re going to continue to stink up the room. The media does Biden no favors by “explaining” away all his issues. It encourages the public to think their president is inept and their news outlets dishonest. Perhaps worst of all, it consigns Joe Biden to a disappointing legacy where everyone talks behind his back about his failures and offers him no opportunity to do the job right.
Read more from Mark Angelides.