Good Friday Morning, except to Liz Cheney, who lost her spot as GOP Caucus Chair, as I wrote would likely happen last week. I don’t have much to add beyond that. Her defenders in the press have tried to make this about a loyalty test to Trump, smearing anyone who said they changed their votes as weak-kneed and bowing to Trump. None of that is true, because the vote was never about Trump. It was about her incapacity to serve the caucus.
We’ll see how the vote goes with the next person. It looks like it’ll be Rep. Chip Roy of Texas versus Rep. Elise Stefanik of NY for Liz Cheney’s prior job. Stefanik has the inside track. When she was elected, she was the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress at the age of 30 in 2015. Roy is trying to make it about conservative credentials, by claiming to be more conservative. I don’t think that will be enough, because this isn’t a test of who is more conservative, it’s about who is better positioned to unite the party with McCarthy. On that ground, Stefanik has Roy cleanly beat. But we’ll see.
This week, I’m going to dive into why I can’t shake the sense that the Biden administration is weird. I’ll explain below. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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Poor jobs report signals inflation has arrived – The Conservative Institute.
We don’t need more stimulus money. We need patience. – The Conservative Institute.
The weird new White House
This White House is weird. That’s a sense and feeling I can’t shake every time I watch a new major news story pop up that demands a President’s attention and then watching the Biden administration do… nothing. I don’t mean in a conspiratorial sense, but just in a typical Presidential sense.
At first, I thought this was a residual thing from the Trump administration. With him, there was some new outrage practically every hour. Not getting that same thing from the Biden administration is jarring in its own right. But this week drove home that sense of weirdness more than any prior: where on earth is the Biden administration? On anything?
To wit, over the last week (in the order of which I thought of them):
- Israel is under siege from Hamas (a terrorist organization with links to Iran), with videos and pictures of the Iron Dome intercepting hundreds of missiles targeting Israeli civilians. Biden’s offered words when questioned, but little real actionable support.
- The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack by Russian-based hackers causing widespread gas station shortages and price hikes across the southeastern United States. Colonial Pipeline ended up paying those hackers approximately $5 million.
- The CDC randomly changing masking guidance, and Biden shifting his tone towards antagonizing the vaccine-hesitant.
- The worst inflation report in decades. ” Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 4.2 percent before seasonal adjustment. This is the largest 12-month increase since a 4.9-percent increase for the period ending September 2008.” Further, “The index for used cars and trucks rose 10.0 percent in April. This was the largest 1-month increase since the series began in 1953.”
- No, seriously, that inflation report was terrible: “The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.9 percent in April, its largest monthly increase since April 1982. Nearly all major component indexes increased in April. Along with the index for used cars and trucks, the indexes for shelter, airline fares, recreation, motor vehicle insurance, and household furnishings and operations were among the indexes with a large impact on the overall increase.”
- A dismal April jobs report, expecting a million job gains and only hitting 266k with downward revisions in previous months.
- The Biden administration’s delay in doing anything with the unused vaccinations from AstraZeneca led to the growth of anti-America sentiment in India.
- Also, don’t forget the ongoing and unfixed border crisis.
A new meme started popping up on the right this week with people joking, “at least there aren’t any mean tweets.” That’s about the only good thing you can say about the Biden administration right now because he’s been missing or late with any real degree of leadership anywhere.
And it’s weird! It’s strange because any other president in the past 50 years would jump at the chance to take charge of these kinds of situations. They’d be issuing statements, talking to world leaders, and talking about plans and ideas to handle each situation. For example, take the pandemic response from state governors. Many politicians got used to the world revolving around them and their decisions getting graded failures or successes by their supporters.
Biden isn’t doing any of those things. He’s the governor that just flows along. On the Colonial Pipeline, which could arguably be considered an attack from Russia (imagine the headlines under Trump), they trotted out Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who tweeted on Wednesday, “We just got off the phone with #ColonialPipeline CEO. They are restarting pipeline operations today at ~5pm. More soon.”
But we know now from reporting that Colonial Pipeline shelled out $5 million. Here’s the report from Bloomberg:
Colonial Pipeline Co. paid nearly $5 million to Eastern European hackers on Friday, contradicting reports earlier this week that the company had no intention of paying an extortion fee to help restore the country’s largest fuel pipeline, according to two people familiar with the transaction.
The company paid the hefty ransom in difficult-to-trace cryptocurrency within hours after the attack, underscoring the immense pressure faced by the Georgia-based operator to get gasoline and jet fuel flowing again to major cities along the Eastern Seaboard, those people said. A third person familiar with the situation said U.S. government officials are aware that Colonial made the payment.
Once they received the payment, the hackers provided the operator with a decrypting tool to restore its disabled computer network. The tool was so slow that the company continued using its own backups to help restore the system, one of the people familiar with the company’s efforts said.
A representative from Colonial declined to comment. Colonial said it began to resume fuel shipments around 5 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday.
With the heft of the United States behind it to deal with a situation involving hacker terrorists, we just up and paid them. And the White House moves one just telling people not to hoard the gas. Meanwhile, I’m stuck over here asking: Why any President would be interested in negotiating with hackers in Russia??? Here’s the kicker part from that report:
When Bloomberg News asked President Joe Biden if he was briefed on the company’s ransom payment, the president paused, then said: “I have no comment on that.”
I get that these hackers hit a soft target using a standard scheme. But it sure seems like the administration wants to move past this pretty quick with little response. And if this was one event, you could chalk it up to a missed swing. But it’s not. These are a series of events stacking up in a very short time for this administration.
The Biden administration sat by and did nothing while the CDC and FDA nuked the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, wiping out months of vaccination momentum in a single decision. Thankfully those numbers have leveled off a bit, plummeting from 3.5 million to barely 2 million, but wiping out 1.5 million a day for no reason is a disaster. There’s no comment from that on the Biden administration either. They’ve fallen back on the old line that they learned about that decision from press reports. And suppose the President is so disconnected from the CDC and FDA’s response to a global pandemic. What exactly is he doing?
Trump and Jackson. Biden and… Carter?
Early on, during the Trump administration, one of the more iconic moments that set the stage for the rest of his Presidency was the visit to The Hermitage. Trump wrapped himself in the legacy of Andrew Jackson. On the surface, the comparisons were close enough. Jackson represented “the people” of his day and was the first true populist in the White House. Trump wanted to be that.
As an aside, one of my favorite Jackson stories is from his inauguration:
After Jackson’s swearing-in ceremony and address to Congress, the new president returned to the White House to meet and greet a flock of politicians, celebrities and citizens. Very shortly, the crowd swelled to more than 20,000, turning the usually dignified White House into a boisterous mob scene. Some guests stood on furniture in muddy shoes while others rummaged through rooms looking for the president–breaking dishes, crystal and grinding food into the carpet along the way. (White House staff reported the carpets smelled of cheese for months after the party.) In an attempt to draw partygoers out of the building, servants set up washtubs full of juice and whiskey on the White House lawn.
Trump matched this story himself by serving a fast food spread to the Clemson football team after they won the national championship. As a friend of mine quipped, “a candle-lit Wendy’s dinner at the White House.” It’s something only Trump could do (and like the Jackson story, there are stories of people complaining of the White House “stinking” of fast food).
But in any event, this moment with Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage told the story of what Trump believed he was, and he tried to stay within that lane, or provide his version of it. Similarly, I wonder if we experienced that with Biden with the viral picture of him looming over Jimmy Carter and his wife. It was something out of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, with Biden playing the role of Gandalf and the Carters being Hobbits. It was an unforgettable picture.
You won’t get this kind of comparison from Biden. He and his team are transfixed by the idea that they could be Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the current generation. Never mind that FDR had four terms to drive his impact home, and he presided over the Great Depression and second world war. And don’t forget that FDR had large majorities in Congress to push through legislation. Biden thinks he can be FDR.
So far, in a few months, he’s managed to mangle the most incredible vaccine rollout in history, reducing it to a shadow of its former self. He inherited an economy ready to explode after hunkering down from a pandemic, and the latest jobs report and inflation data are far from stellar. The inflation part is the big thing because Biden wants to commit the United States to $6 trillion in new spending when inflation is surging. That’s not where you want to start if you’re the new FDR.
It’s one of those things where only a person like Biden could look around, believe his own press, and think that much new spending won’t impact inflation. And so I sit here looking at that picture of the Bidens and Carters, and I can’t help but wondering if this is his Trump/Andrew Jackson moment. With Trump, it was an outright decision. Whether he accomplished that is another story left to history. It won’t be a decision with Biden, but rather the lack of one, from a person weirdly missing from the stage when it counts.
And again, I have no insight here. I’m not saying anything about Biden’s health, or there’s some nefarious plot by his administration. I’m arguing that Biden isn’t showing up when you objectively measure his response against any previous president. And the explosion of events this week highlights that critical difference between him and his predecessors. With Trump, Obama, or Bush, the story was always their response to something or the way their critics handled the executive branch.
With Biden, it’s the event and only the event. He’s barely registering. It’s tempting to say, “well that’s just friendly media.” True, but consider that Obama and Clinton always liked to be at the forefront of a significant issue or story to show they were in control. They got friendly press too. Not true with Biden.
And I find it weird. Hopefully, we don’t need a President for anything significant any time soon because I’m not sure this one will show up. If he does, he’ll be late (see the embarrassing response to India or haphazard, random changes to CDC guidance). But when you read the biography of any President, it’s pretty apparent: events force them into the forefront sooner or later. Rare is the President who never has history forced on him and gets to glide through his moment with nary a challenge by forces outside his control. Biden cannot be an empty suit for forever. And right now, the only image we have of Biden is him looming over the Carters.
That concerns me as I watch this weird administration continue to take shape.
Links of the week
Rebekah Jones, the COVID Whistleblower Who Wasn’t: The former dashboard manager alleges a vast data conspiracy in Florida; not a word of it is true. – Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review
Biden’s Middle East Failure: America’s enemies sense weakness, and they are capitalizing – The Washington Free Beacon
[From 2019] Hamas’ Gaza Health Ministry Lies To Promulgate Propaganda – Townhall
Elizabeth Bruenig didn’t regret becoming a mother at 25. Then her far-left peers came for her – Bethany Mandel, Deseret
Chrissy Teigen’s cookware line no longer sold by Target – Page Six, NYPost
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Thanks for reading!