Biden’s Press Conference Too Choreographed
President Biden’s long awaited press conference may have been a success in the eyes of his handlers – and possibly a large segment of the American public. There were no major gaffes and only one time there seemed to be a “senior moment.”
It was a success from the Democrat view. That is because the President did not blurt out any of his iconic eyebrow-raising statements. He also did not lose his physical balance and did not have a total mental meltdown. Of course, considering the legitimate concerns about his health and cognitive capabilities, success was an exceptionally low bar.
We also must remember that Biden faces a much more friendly sycophantic press than did his predecessor – and the questions showed it.
But success came at a price. Biden and his media advisors had to create a VERY unchallenging situation. It was not like any presidential press conference I had ever seen. From the minimally exposed President Obama to the overexposed President Trump.
While they claimed that the minimal number of reporters in the room was due to the Covid-19 Pandemic – and the guidelines from the CDC – it was overdone. Even at the height of the Pandemic, Trump press conferences had many more reporters in a much smaller room at prescribed distances.
At virtually no time was Biden speaking off-the-cuff — even when answering questions, he continuously referred to notes.
He followed the script from beginning to end. And worst part is that he could not help but reveal his over-dependence on written notes and talking points. He did not just occasionally glance, but conspicuously read from the written texts.
Even when calling on reporters, Biden had to rely on notes to know which reporter was scheduled (by obvious pre-arrangement) to ask the next question. And he occasionally appeared to have difficulty searching his notes for the next name. That pre-arranged list was another departure from previous presidential press conferences in which the President picks a reporter out of a sea of hands.
Biden’s reliance on staff prepared talking points for the press conference was evident when he was being asked a question about Afghanistan. As the reporter was finishing the question, Biden was paging through his briefing book and then proceeded to read specific talking points more like an android than a President.
Biden was so tethered to his notes that it is fair to wonder if he was the source of the answers or only the talking head. Much like a news anchor. This tendency to need notes has been seen earlier in Biden interviews. He occasionally refers to needing notes when he seems to lose his train-of-thought and begins searching his pockets for an index card.
It was certainly not a vigorous or informative press conference — partly due to Biden’s own low energy presentation.
But also because of the softball questions from the White House press corps. One reporter characterized Biden as a “nice man.” Another literally presaged Biden’s boilerplate response in the form of the question. He is their guy.
There was no challenge to Biden’s claims of his success in handling the Covid-19 Pandemic. His claim of exceeding HIS goal or 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days is not entirely accurate. Of course, it is traditional for a new President of an opposing party to claim he “inherited a mess” and to take credit for anything positive that happens on his watch. President Bush inherited a mess from President Clinton. Obama blamed Bush for what he inherited. President Trump blamed Obama. And now we have President Biden blaming Trump.
But a good reporter could have challenged Biden’s assertion of establishing and meeting the goal. In the Fall, the Trump administration announced the goal of inoculating 100 million people in the first three months of 2021. And that meant full inoculation (two doses). In other words, that was already baked in when Biden arrived at the White House.
So far, only 46 million people have had two doses. So, it is technically correct that more than 100 million doses have been administered. But it is fudging to say that 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – much less more than 100 million.
Any progress in the past three months has been due to the work of the Trump administration.
There has been neither time nor money to implement effective changes. Very little of the $1.9 trillion relief money has been spent. (I am still waiting for my check.) In fact, much of the money from the relief package passed in the last days of the Trump administration is yet to be spent.
Politically, Biden came out of his first press conference on his feet, but signs of trouble were evident. While he had one notable “senior moment” there were several times where he seemed to lose his place – seem momentarily confused – as he shuffled his notes.
Biden is an old man and is showing the inevitable signs — and a few things that raise specific concerns. What is afflicting Biden are generally things that do not improve over time. Time will tell us more.
There is no recovery from getting old – at least not yet. I know.
So, there ‘tis.