In the past few days, an abundance of insider news stories have been published about the inner workings of the White House. Naturally, none of them paint an optimistic picture. On Wednesday, reports of a rift between President Joe Biden and his staff came out, leading one to wonder who's in charge. The main complaint was about Biden's handlers, who have constantly rushed in behind him to alter his words. Another was about Biden not being well informed about the numerous incidents, mostly self-inflicted, that have plagued his presidency.
A new report from CNN provides more information on how the chaos is taking place. Due to the White House being adrift, the backstabbing has begun. In between conflicts, they point fingers at one another, wondering who to blame. They go through repeated internal meetings over and over again, insisting they must change their approach to the way they're using Biden, and they continue to watch the clock, but nothing changes. Older aides dismiss younger aides for being distracted by their tweet-by-tweet-thinking, wondering if they really lost the 2020 election. They give up on coming up with new concepts. They ask themselves why their ideas are continually criticized and why aides are dismissed for bringing up new ideas.
The gulf between older and younger staff members is noticeable. Biden has been in constant contact with a group of yes men, including the chief of staff, Ron Klain, who have always given him the information he wants to be told. Through the years, they've become extremely controlling, too. The people who were recruited by the administration to expand its ranks have seen themselves continually disqualified, and the more senior generation of Biden officials continue to carry on doing things as they've always done.
This isn't to say that the younger-generation staffers have the right suggestions. There is often no definitive answer, because Biden is an ADD (attention deficit disorder) and senile person who clearly is not able to perform the tasks of his position. Are more social-media posts likely to boost Biden's popularity? Absolutely not, and there's no magic potion of messaging and image-making that can solve the problems facing the administration.
The divisions, however, run deep, and CNN's report about the current situation could convince anyone that there's light at the other end. They'll claim that he's responding to reporters' questions when asked, and he's not granting interviews to save long hours of preparation and subsequent clean up. They'll admit that Biden himself is disengaged enough that he's held a couple of meetings with some of his favorite writers since the fall, including the lunch last month with the New York Times' Tom Friedman, during which Friedman shared his personal thoughts on Biden's off-the-record remarks but with just the tuna sandwich, the fruit bowl, and the milkshake deemed suitable to be published.
In a January memo, the White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, offered a compromise plan to let Biden hold a town hall every month in order to gain free-of-scripted moments and get media attention. This was then absorbed into the murky waters of blame and discord like every other thing the administration attempts. Some aides supported the idea of making things a bit more interesting, some rebuked it for being outdated, and others expressed concern that creating that event could be a nightmare to manage. At the last minute, not one town hall was planned. A White House aide said Wednesday that town halls will be scheduled in the coming months.
Klain's plan to hold town halls isn't surprising given how naive the man is. The only thing that can assist Biden is allowing him to be a guest for an hour every month on cable news and having him repeat the same old talking points—delivering only negative outcomes for American citizens. After considering the conflict with his staffers as described here, one arrives at the notion that Biden himself is the issue. It's evident by their statements that they won't allow him to do interviews due to their fears of having to do long hours of “clean-up.” When the leader can't be trusted to meet with friendly media, it should be clear how shaky the administration is.
At the heart of the issue is a president trying to adjust himself to the job. The country is falling apart–infections from pandemics continue to rise, inflation is growing, a new crisis on top of old crises comes in every day, and Biden cannot provide answers while being the most relaxed, happiest, compassionate, affectionate, onion-loving, aviator-wearing, vanilla-chip-cone-licking person–an image that is the reason he was elected in the first place.
“He has to speak to very serious things,” said a White House aide, “and you can't do that getting ice cream.”
Yes, there is chaos. Sure, Biden is facing serious personnel problems. However, the main issue is still the man who is in the fake Oval Office. It's not a message issue. It's not luck. It's more likely that Biden is a terrible, uncaring leader who cannot overcome his personal ways. The idea that slapping aviators at Biden and letting him eat ice cream is going to alter the public's perception is just a lie. However, placing him on the national stage wearing a serious smile won't do much good either, since Biden himself is the issue. Even the most effective method in the world cannot transform a mouse into a lion.