Biden’s NATO press conference was a C+
I give President Biden’s press conference at the close of the NATO summit a C+ for several reasons – and that I on the generous side. That grade does not reflect his D- overall grade
What drove up his grade average a smidgen were a number of facts. First and foremost, he did not have any significant gaffes. Oh … he mixed up a few words saying NATO when he meant Russia. He produced real news in announcing another $800 billion for Ukraine’s defense – including offensive weapons.
He expressed rage at the Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade – and announced that he would support a one-time abandonment of the filibuster rule for an abortion bill. He used the abortion issue to slip in a not-so-veiled partisan campaign pitch – telling people that the best way to respond to the Court decision is to vote. It is obvious that he was talking about voting for Democrats. (That bit of partisanship on the world stage brought his grade down a bit.)
His report on the current status and activities of NATO was strong and impressive – including the addition of Finland and Sweden, plus the increase in payments from hitherto reluctant member nations.
Biden would have gotten a higher grade had the press conference been a real press conference, but this was a VERY limited exposure to the press – carefully crafted by those behind the curtain. There were hundreds of reporters from around the world in attendance, but Biden only took questions from five pre-selected reporters – who could not be accused of asking tough questions. It may have been one of the shortest presidential press conferences on record.
Biden repeated his claim that the entire inflation is Putin’s fault – although he did not call it “Putin’s inflation” as he has so frequently in the past. He said the world economic problems were caused by “Russia, Russia, Russia.”
Biden lost points in not explaining what the commitment of the United States to Ukraine specifically means. In a grand platitude, Biden pledged to do for Ukraine “whatever it takes.” It was his answer to three questions. But “whatever it takes” does not tell us whatever it takes.
He made it sound that a ceasefire may be an acceptable outcome when a Russian defeat means that Putin would have to withdraw his troops from all Ukraine territory – including the Donbas Regions, the Crimea and all gains he made in the war.
With a specific explanation as to the American goal, all those general statements of support mean very little.
I previously wrote a commentary that Putin was primarily responsible for uniting NATO – rather than Biden, as he claims. In a backhanded way, Biden seemed to agree with my assessment. He said that he told Putin that if he invaded Ukraine, HE (Putin) would unite NATO.
To the extent Biden got a passing grade on his remarks at NATO it was more on style than substance.
So, there ‘tis.