This column recently suggested that President Joe Biden avoid speaking in public, at least on important topics such as weapons of mass destruction. There’s no constitutional reason why he can’t limit his communications to written statements, and his off-the-cuff remarks have proven particularly troublesome. So far, the president has not chosen to follow the advice of your humble correspondent.
The relatively good news is that Mr. Biden’s inaccurate statements this week are not linked to potential adversaries with vast arsenals of nuclear weapons. But the issues he’s tackling now aren’t trivial. Steven Nelson reports today for the New York Post:
President Biden on Thursday confused his administration’s efforts to reinstate a transit mask mandate with an expiring policy used to turn away most illegal immigrants when a reporter asked about the Title 42 border measure.
Biden’s press team again had to issue a written statement afterwards claiming the president misspoke and only wanted to comment on the masks.
“I want to clarify that in the comments at the end of my remarks this morning, I was referring to the CDC mask mandate and there is no Justice Department action on Title 42,” reads -on in the statement, attributed to Biden.
Why not use statements attributed to Mr. Biden instead of his oral statements all the time?
A Tuesday press release cited unnamed sources for a comment from Biden on another issue that is not exactly trivial for the country. Amie Parnes and Morgan Chalfant reported in The Hill:
President Biden has told former President Obama that he plans to run for office in 2024, two sources told The Hill.
Obama’s admission is the latest indication that Biden is likely to seek a second term, something the president has spoken about publicly…
“[Biden] wants to show up and he makes that clear to everyone,” said one of the two sources familiar with conversations between Obama and Biden.
The Hill report is certainly plausible. The journalists add:
The White House has not commented on conversations between Biden and Obama. A Biden adviser pointed to the president’s public comments that he intends to run again.
One can only imagine how Mr. Obama reacted, especially given his well-researched sense of humor. While the Hill is essentially reporting that Mr. Biden’s private position is the same as he has previously expressed publicly, it clarifies a number of issues the President will have to grapple with.
Even before his recent troubling string of inaccuracies on very important issues, many voters had already decided that Mr. Biden was not up to the job of president. In late February, Dan Balz, Scott Clement, and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post reported the results of a Post-ABC News poll:
An underlying weakness affecting perceptions of Biden’s performance in office is the degree to which people doubt his personal abilities. When asked if he is a strong leader, 59% say no and 36% say yes, which closely matches his overall approval rating. Among independents, 65% say it is not strong.
On an even more personal question, 54% say they don’t think Biden has the mental acumen to run for president, while 40% say he does. The last time this was asked in a post-ABC poll was in May 2020. At that time, the results were roughly reversed: 51% said candidate Biden had the mental acuity to be president, compared to 43% who said he did not.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans and Democrats have totally opposite views on this issue. Among independents, a critical group in the upcoming election, 59% offer a negative assessment of the president’s mental acuity, up 13 points since May 2020.
Cartoonist and political pundit Scott Adams might say that in talking about running in 2024, Mr Biden is trying to talk ‘beyond selling’ and avoids discussing the fact that much of the electorate thinks that he is not able to do the job today. He has two years and nine months left in his current term. Will pollsters now ask voters how mentally sharp they expect Mr. Biden to be in the years 2025-29?
Normally, there isn’t much discussion about other potential party candidates when an incumbent president intends to seek re-election. But as Chris Smith wrote in Vanity Fair in March:
President Joe Biden says he intends to run again in 2024. And Vice President Kamala Harris will be on the ticket with him again…
So it’s going to be a very short story. To the right?
Maybe if Biden’s job endorsement numbers hadn’t started to sink in July, dipped underwater in August and dipped, repeatedly, into the low 40s at the start. of the new year. Perhaps if COVID cases and inflation had not moved in the opposite direction over the same period, the latter would have been boosted in February by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And certainly if, when the next presidential campaign is in full swing, Biden was not going to get any closer to his 82nd birthday. “I’m just going to be brutally honest about it,” says a Democratic national strategist. “But I don’t think he’s physically ready to race again. I’m optimistic that by the summer of 2024 the country will be back to 95% normality – and it will have to campaign hard and hard that it didn’t in 2020. It won’t be able to stay under -floor.”
It is true that Mr. Biden will not be able to run another campaign from his basement.
It is also true that long before 2024, Mr. Biden or those who attribute statements to him are going to have to discuss and disclose more relevant information about his suitability for the position.
James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival”.
Follow James Freeman on Twitter.
Subscribe to Best of the Web email.
To suggest articles, please email [email protected]
(Lisa Rossi helps compile Best of the Web.)
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8