The surprise is not Joe Biden's avoidance policy; it is that this has been sold to us with approval.
With a massive crisis of our making unraveling on a global stage, Joe Biden made a press appearance yesterday and addressed the nation. “There are people who are dying, and will die, who don't have to.” Heartfelt words full of drama, possibly, but there was a severe issue with this — this speech was not about Afghanistan. At all. In a rather stunning display of avoidance, the president chose this time to rehash tired mask debates and take potshots at GOP rival governors, who are daring to snub his directives. He took Wednesday's speech to do nothing but score cheap political hits.
There was no mention at all of the disastrous fiasco in Afghanistan, no words of clarity on what the mission entails, no comments about the thousands of Americans entrapped in the eroding conditions. Joe Biden turned from the podium and walked off without fielding a single question, the simple image of his back turned to the cameras becoming a glaring metaphor.
The mishandling of Afghanistan and the ensuing actions by the administration have been so glaringly wrong that the press has been coming out with actual negative coverage of Biden. It is a refreshing thing to behold, but at the same time sad that it takes a catastrophe of this magnitude to shake the press out of its trance. At CNN they even admitted to this — possibly unintentionally. In a piece critical of Biden's actions they said:
“His credibility has been sullied because his confident downplaying of the risks of the withdrawal has been repeatedly confounded by events. Seven months into his term, Biden no longer gets credit simply for not being Donald Trump.”
That sentence cuts to exactly what the problem is today, and long has been the case. The press has been content to allow Joe Biden to skirt most normal forms of analysis and criticism, beginning last year during the campaign. He has been permitted to duck responsibility, dodge accountability, and avoid much scrutiny because of simply who he was not. Now, today, the media find they are dismayed to watch a fiasco of a massive scale unraveling before their eyes.
This was largely a disaster of their own making. They coddled and carried this man across the election finish line, and they are bearing witness to the result. He has been permitted to ease into this role, with the barest of inspection and with his blatant flaws covered up and moved into storage. What we are all seeing right now is The Joe Biden Basement Doctrine.
As the withdrawal in Afghanistan began to go sideways, the first thing we saw was the President go somewhere else. He took a vacation this weekend, just as the events abroad were devolving into a mess. As much as this was a dismaying action it was completely on-brand. He was called back from Camp David for his presser, spent time back at the White House, and has now made the return to his home in Delaware.
The revealing aspect is that this show of being overwhelmed by events is not relegated to the president. With the president incommunicado, journalists hoped to get official word from the administration; nope, the press secretary had also left town for the week. We watched General Mark Milley address the press in what should be regarded as his resignation speech, declaring that the military had no concept that the Taliban could move so swiftly and take over the country so completely. The Secretary of Defense announced that they were in negotiations with the terrorists to have them assist in our exit strategy.
Word went out from the State Department to the Americans stranded in the Kabul area, that while they are encouraged to make their way to the airport to board evac planes, their travels could not be assured.
A congressional aide tells @CBSNews we have no partners left in Afghanistan to safely get Americans in-country to Kabul. “There are 10-15k AmCits who still need to get out, and that obviously doesn’t include the tens of thousands of SIVs or P2 applicants trying to get out of Afg” https://t.co/SKw1FvXBCV
— Sara Cook (@saraecook) August 17, 2021
This is the administration built around a cipher of a man. Despite half a century of work in Washington, the citizens were not presented with an accurate picture of the real man. Joe Biden the President today is the same Joe Biden candidate the press sold to us. Recall how shielded and protected he was on the campaign. He gave few press conferences. His media appearances were completely controlled.
Whenever Joe faced the media, it was always a completely orchestrated affair. He was sent out with note cards and read monotonically from teleprompters like a father struggling with an unfamiliar Dr. Seuss novel. Questions were prepared for the press, and the pressers were choreographed with Biden calling on preordained reporters in numerical order. But this was on the rare occurrence of meeting the press.
One of the hallmarks of the Biden Presidential run was the tendency of hiding the man with numerous days off. The practice of calling a lid approached near punchline levels. In one stretch last fall, the campaign called off activities seven times in a two-week period, 11 times within the period of a month. The press deemed this as normal, nothing to be alarmed over, and if anyone alluded to this as a sign of trouble or infirmity they were called out as being hysterically biased.
President Biden returns to the White House after spending time in Wilmington, Delaware pic.twitter.com/RopGCgStGR
— The Hill (@thehill) August 10, 2021
And now we are seeing all the problems. Joe does not seem up to the task of handling an evolving crisis. When someone's activities are so controlled it is a sign of being incapable of handling developing information. Biden is used to having everything scripted, so he cannot improvise and react when new developments arise. We are looking at a leader who needs to think on his feet who cannot follow a sidewalk on the White House grounds.
This is exactly the Joe Biden we were sold last year. The difference is at the time, the press was in on the con. The less he spoke, the fewer malaprops would be heard. If we were not shown the man we could not see the problems. All of this was presented as normal. We were being shown a used car, but were told it was not acceptable to take it on a test drive; it was unseemly to want answers and expect revelations.
Last year, Biden was ferreted away, and we were told everything was just fine. Now we are seeing that in the midst of a crisis, he is, once again, ensconced in his basement. It has been said that weak generals lead from behind; Joe Biden may be even weaker, as he is leading from below.