CNN’s Biden town hall meeting was a fraud
I watched the entire program that CNN misbilled as a “town hall meeting” featuring President Biden. Before getting into why I called it a “fraud” in the headline, a few observations about Biden’s performance.
He was not bad. He stood throughout the program without showing any signs of physical fatigue. He did cough several times. I wondered why host Anderson Cooper did not offer some water.
Biden did have a few minor “senior moments.” At one point when he was trying to find his train of thought, he looked down and muttered “where am I.” Another time, Cooper had to finish the thought for Biden. And there were other times when Biden appeared to be searching for the remainder of his thought.
He also performed what I call the “Biden ramble.” At times he would ramble and never get to the question. There were his evergreen references to the things he learned for his working class father, which did not seem to have a relevant point..
Some of the Biden fans, say that these pauses and mental searches are because of his early life history as a stutterer. I have followed Biden’s 47-year public career, and he did not have these telling pauses in the past. They could be related to his earlier speech impediment but seem clearly to be manifest in his elderly years.
My major take-away, however, was CNN’s shameful naming the event a “town hall meeting” when it was essentially a partisan rally – at least by Biden standards.
In a town hall meeting, one should expect that the audience is random and representative of the community. The questions should be tough at times – covering all the hot topics of the day. Maybe even follow up questions. This was not that.
The audience was drawn exclusively from the “friends of Biden” invitation list. We know that from the frequent outburst of applause — and occasional cheers as Biden answered questions. As one might at a political rally, Biden stopped to “recognize” two Democrat senators in the audience. They were Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both of Maryland.
This appeared as a pre-arranged set up. I recalled that when Biden first appeared on stage, he had to shield his eyes with his hands to look out into the audience. Strangely, he later glanced out into the audience and saw the two gentlemen – who were seated in the middle of the auditorium wearing masks. To use one of Biden’s favorite expressions … “Come on, man.”
But that was not the only obvious staging. Someone with CNN – or even with input from the White House – had to select the audience, the questioners and the questions. That is a fair assumption because in a previous CNN “town hall meeting” one of the questioners admitted that the question he asked had been given to him verbatim. And that is how most of the questions were presented – read from pieces of paper.
Then there was the matter of those pre-selected to ask questions. Some questions came from Cooper – but most were from the audience. The majority were Democrats – as identified by Cooper. Some were independents. Only two were said to be Republicans and they were late in the show. And even then, they were not the kind of questions a partisan Republican is likely to ask.
Softballs. All the questions were softballs. I am a single mother. What are you going to do for me? I am caring for my elderly parents. What are you going to do for me? I am a student. What are you going to do for me? I am a teacher. What are you going to do for me?
All the questioners – with the possible exception of the two Republicans – were asking questions that fit into Biden’s big bold legislative proposals. All the answer could have been summarized in … “I will give you more money.”
Biden was asked why he had not yet visited the border … but not specifically what he was going to do about the record number of illegal border crossings. He did mention asking the longshore workers and the truck drivers to work 24/7 to unload the containers to address the supply-chain disruption. At the rate that container ships are unloaded – several days per ship – the Biden plan would eliminate the back log in three years instead of five.
There were no tough questions. Nothing about Afghanistan and terrorism. Nothing about inflation. Nothing addressing the issues that have plunged Biden’s favorable rating into the 30 percentiles.
The was not a town hall meeting. What CNN ran was a partisan Democrat dog-and-pony-show for the President.
So, there ‘tis.