Good Friday Morning, especially to the fine people at Korked Bats who made the best hype video for Derrick Henry’s return to the Titans and the playoffs that I’ve ever seen. If you watch that and aren’t ready to go for the NFL playoffs, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m prepared to run through a wall after watching that video.
This week, I’m going a dive through Biden’s marathon press conference and taking apart some of the narratives after it. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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Congress should investigate the federal COVID-19 response – Conservative Institute
Inflation and shortages run rampant in Biden’s America – again – Conservative Institute
What is Biden doing? The White House doesn’t know.
The Onion is an excellent barometer of what is acceptable thinking on the liberal left. It’s a way to view how liberals think of the moment by ignoring all the narrative building. It’s telling that they have little faith in the Biden administration. Two hilarious headlines from the Onion recently:
- ‘You Know, If I Were You, I’d Go After Finland,’ Says Biden Trying To Dissuade Putin From Invading Ukraine.
- Intubated Man Informed That His Free Covid Tests Have Arrived.
- Sign Reading ‘Take One’ Placed On Bowl Of N95 Masks On White House Stoop.
It kind of says it all, right?
In recent weeks, a repeated question I’ve received is “Why is Biden doing… X.” And the “X” has been things like, “Why is Biden giving away tests?” Or “Why is Biden giving away N95 masks?” It’s always some formulation of “What is the Biden White House thinking?”
I’m not going to pretend that I know the inner workings of a White House. I’ve never worked in one. Examining the actions and statements of the White House, it’s unclear they know what they’re doing. I started out calling this administration the “President who isn’t there,” and that’s still true.
At this point, it’s hard to ignore the reality that these are just incompetent people, out of their depth, and don’t know what to do. And with Biden’s continually plummeting approval polls (more on that in a bit), the White House is throwing everything at the wall to see if anything sticks or is popular.
I’ll give you an example. On December 7, 2021, the White House Press Secretary mocked a question from a reporter asking if the White House had thought about mailing every American a free COVID-19 test. If you read that piece, it’s funny to read how the author was perplexed at the Biden administration and its lack of imagination in combating the virus. At that time, Omicron was surging, and we were approaching the peak winter surge. On December 21, 2021, the White House pivoted and changed its mind to do exactly that, forcing the Press Secretary to walk back that answer.
This is not an administration with a long-term plan on anything. And the reality is: everyone can see that. There’s no master plan, strategy, or even a play-sheet to rely upon for leadership options. This administration is a purely reactionary one. In that vein, they’re identical to the Trump administration. But because the parties are switched, you get glowing media profiles instead of the steady drumbeat of attacks like under Trump.
Also, predictably, CNN is reporting that states are receiving the tests they ordered.
The Biden administration is floundering. They’ve got no idea what to do on any issue that they encounter, and they’re flying by the seat of their pants on everything. And when Biden messes up in a press conference, predictably, the White House Press Secretary’s office runs out to try and re-establish the prior status quo, whatever that was. This administration is desperate to maintain the status quo because they can’t advance anything.
The second reality: Biden’s job approval numbers are flat out abysmal — and he continues to sink. In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Biden’s average approval number is 40.7% versus a 54.1% disapproval, that’s a spread of 13.4 points. The two more right-leaning polls in those averages are Trafalgar and Rasmussen, and they have Biden at -20 and -18, respectively. Quinnipiac is not far behind with a -19, Politico with a -16, and Gallup with a -16. In other words, there are plenty of awful polls for Biden.
Biden’s best poll is the IBD/TIPP poll, which has only -1. That poll has been a pretty clear outlier for a while. Biden is pushing a -15 point spread in the polls if you remove them. Several polls have his approval numbers in the sub-40 range. The lowest is a 35% approval number. Suppose you project these kinds of numbers over a model of the 2022 election, as Sean Trende has done. In that case, you find an outright disaster for Democrats.
As usual, it’s important to note that we’re still a long way out from the election, and things can change. But if you were looking for evidence for Biden to recover in the polls, there’s just none to be found. We don’t know what Biden’s floor is in polling. With Trump, we learned pretty quickly that he would never drop below 40-42% for an extended time. For Biden, his numbers have experienced a steady drop since the end of May 2021.
That’s really when inflation started taking hold, gas prices were being felt, and we entered the summer fight over Delta. Since then, it’s been a never-ending drumbeat of bad news, and the Biden administration has been unprepared for every stop along the way — even when some things (like a winter surge) were utterly predictable.
Trump and Obama were popular base candidates. At a bare minimum, they had a base of support that was ride or die with them at all times. It’s unclear if Biden has that base. During the nomination process, Biden ended up the top choice more by process of elimination than by popular consent. Democrats went with Biden because no one else could win that field. There’s no core group of Biden supporters who have lived for the day to see him into office, unlike Trump/Obama. I don’t believe you can assume Biden’s numbers will hit a natural floor like Trump and Obama. Biden’s base is likely lower since he was more of a brokered candidate with Democrats instead of a popular one.
That doesn’t mean base Democrats wouldn’t vote for him again in 2024, but it does explain why Biden has no coattails. After one year, Biden’s team is acting like a lame-duck President. In Congress, this is effectively true. He’s managed to alienate the moderate faction of the Senate and made House moderates uneasy. A healthy chunk of the Democratic moderates are going along with some of the dumb votes in Congress to avoid a primary challenge. Still, they aren’t happy about the direction of things.
The floundering backdrop brings us to the marathon Biden press conference. It’s just amazing how vastly different the press corps cover these events. First, here’s Yamiche Alcindor of NPR, tweeting her reactions:
Pres Biden, in the longest news conference in presidential history, made news, pushed back on critics, called out lies, took responsibility for mistakes he believes he made, expressed surprise at GOP, talked foreign policy and didn’t lash out on reporters.
Quite the change. (1/2)
There is so much to say about Pres Biden’s presser.
The thing that sticks w/ me is that he took responsibility for mistakes he believes he made, expressed genuine frustration w/ COVID & his agenda being stalled by GOP and Democrats & took hard questions without insulting folks. (2/2)
So much for speaking truth to power, right? I have my own loves in the political world, and I’d be embarrassed to write that glowingly about a press conference. It’s hard to take a reaction like that seriously when the rest of the country is heading in the opposite direction. Here’s the writeup from Philip Wegmann at RealClearPolitics, who was also in attendance:
There was bravado. Biden insisted his accomplishments were “bigger than any president has ever gotten in the first year.” Unabashed audacity too: “I make no apologies for what I did,” he said about how the war in Afghanistan was ended. And, at times, confusion: One minute, he rejected the suggestion that he needed to be “more realistic” about passing his legislative agenda; the next, he conceded his Build Back Better spending plan would likely need to be broken into “big chunks.”
At times, it seemed like the president was shooting from the hip on a range of issues, calling into question the legitimacy of the 2022 midterms 10 months prior to the election and seemingly offering tacit approval of a “minor incursion” into Ukraine by Russia. It was the kind of unfiltered free-for-all that the press corps craves and the kind of stuff they hadn’t gotten since the previous president (reluctantly) left office.
When all was said and done, the Q&A lasted 1 hour 51 minutes, toppling previous records by Presidents Obama (1 hour 27 minutes) and Trump (1 hour 26 minutes). But Biden did more than just a new standard of verbosity and accountability. He was attempting to reset and redefine his presidency as the coronavirus continues to burn across the country and his marquee legislation languishes in Congress.
With the first question, he was asked if he had overpromised during the campaign. “I didn’t overpromise,” Biden replied, pointing to the bills he signed into law and the steps he’d taken to beat back the pandemic, “I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen.”
Ultimately, here’s the sign that the press conference was an abysmal failure: The White House Press Secretary’s office had to rush out multiple corrections. Biden’s remarks on Russia/Ukraine caused a commotion in Ukraine and eroded our relationship there. Biden’s election comments were entirely rewritten by the White House afterward.
If issuing multiple corrections, eroding trust with our allies, and hurting your relationships in Congress count as successful, I’d hate to see what someone like Yamiche thinks is a failure.
The point is not one of press criticism. The fact is that when you ask, “why is Biden doing… X?” The answer is simple: the White House doesn’t know. That press conference is proof, once again, of why the White House is terrified of sending him out in front of friendly journalists. This is what happens when the White House tries to script questions. It’s an incoherent Presidency running on fumes at the end of its first year, and they don’t have a plan on how to survive.
The midterms are going to be very interesting with this administration. As we near the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats are retiring from Congress. After the November elections (and perhaps before), I suspect you’re going to witness the beginning of “retirements” from the White House as people jump ship from something they perceive as doomed.
Because the ultimate thing you need to know is this: you cannot assume 2022 will be one where the waters will be calm for Biden. He will be forced to respond to several crises throughout the year. There’s no evidence this White House can answer. They’re treading water, polling abysmally, and hunkering down.
Occam’s razor dictates that if it doesn’t look like they know what they’re doing, that’s probably the truth. If you’re looking at Onion headlines, the left secretly says they believe the same thing.
Links of the week
[One of the craziest local police stories I’ve ever read] Police in this tiny Alabama town suck drivers into legal ‘black hole’ – AL.com
Newly Declassified Video Shows U.S. Killing of 10 Civilians in Drone Strike: The New York Times obtained footage of the botched strike in Kabul, whose victims included seven children, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. – NYT
The left dreamed of remaking America. Now, it stares into the abyss as Biden’s plans wither: In 2020, prominent liberals promised major changes to the safety net and climate policy – Jeff Stein, Washington Post
Biden’s press conference was terrifying — his internal monologue said out loud – John Podhoretz, NYPost
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Wedding Feast Of The Lamb To Be Catered By Chick-fil-A – Babylon Bee
Thanks for reading!