Slipping on the stairs is no big deal, but real stumbles across staffing, foreign policy, and the border that are of much bigger concern. Of course, the media’s reaction to Biden’s stumble is illustrative of the radical difference in coverage we’ve seen between the current and former President. In other words, has anyone called for Biden to get a brain scan?
As an individual endowed with less than stellar athletic gifts, known to stumble a time or two myself, far be it from me to poke fun at President Biden for falling not once, but thrice on the stairs to Air Force One. Instead, I’ll make fun of the media as they’re an easier target at times, revealing the ridiculousness of their bias with each passing day. Biden isn’t the first President to stumble; in fact, he’s not the first President to exhibit some challenges walking this past year, and yet the reactions from our enlightened press corps couldn’t be more different. I wonder why that is?
It was only last June when then President Trump was filmed walking slowly down a ramp at West Point after delivering the commencement address. To say the media pounced at the time would be an understatement. CNN’s resident pundit, the analytically challenged Chris Cillizza, devoted an entire one of his The Point stories to the topic, educating readers on “Why the Donald Trump-West Point story actually matters,” noting that “many” were “speculating about whether he was in ill health.” Cillizza even appeared to fact check Trump’s claim that the ramp was slippery by citing The Washington Post’s Phil Rucker, who noted the claim was “inconsistent with the weather.”
Was Phil on the ramp? He doesn’t say, but of course it didn’t matter to Chris either. He noted that Trump was 74 (Biden is 78), claiming Trump’s “medical past is a total mystery,” like he wasn’t performing the duties of President for 3.5 years at that point. It was as if he just arrived out of cryofreeze that morning and no one had any idea if he was about to keel over any minute. He complained that Trump “makes his opponents’ health a major issue,” and then, of course, blamed Trump himself for the story, “So yes, of course, the President’s tentative and slow walk down a ramp is a story. Donald Trump made it one.”
Nor was CNN the only news outlet with a similar take. The New York Times claimed “President Trump faced new questions about his health on Sunday.” The Guardian claimed Trump “lashes out” at critics, noting that there was “widespread comment” about the incident, somehow tying it to Trump’s unscheduled visit to a hospital over 6 months prior. “Such speculation continued on Saturday with regard to an unscheduled visit to hospital last November, which the White House said at the time was for Trump’s annual physical. No such results have yet been published.”
Not content to limit the scope to Trump walking slowly, they continued, “Observers focused on Trump’s familiar use of two hands to drink from a bottle of water during his West Point visit.” They even cited an expert, “Bandy Lee, a Yale psychiatrist and editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, wrote on Twitter: ‘This is a persistent neurological sign that, combined with others, would be concerning enough to require a brain scan.’”
A brain scan because he took a drink with two hands and walked slowly down a ramp?
The Atlantic went even further, claiming that Trump’s physical fitness wasn’t the real problem. “Whether or not Trump can walk smoothly down a ramp says nothing about his ability to serve as president. The search for some sort of disqualifying physical ailment is a distraction. Trump has offered ample evidence to judge his dubious fitness for office over the past three years, regardless of how he sips water.”
Perhaps needless to say, there were no such articles by any of these outlets after Biden’s stumbles last week. To be sure, conservative quarters poked a little fun at the President, but wall-to-wall media coverage, links to other health incidents, and certainly calls for a brain scan of Biden were non-existent.
Unfortunately, this shouldn’t be surprising when Biden’s more figurative stumbles in office receive precious little attention. According to Politico for example, Biden hasn’t even made any gaffes. The “news” organization took to Twitter last week to proclaim it so, linking to a newsletter that reported, without evidence, as they say, “The president so far has surprised some of his former colleagues and allies with a largely gaffe-free White House debut after a lifetime of verbal stumbles.”
It’s enough to make one wonder if they’re even watching the same President. Is there really some green screen version of Biden that only they have access to or are we here in the cheap seats watching the green screen version?
Less than 6 months after his election victory, Biden has, from my memory alone, forgotten the name of his own Secretary of Defense, named the wrong person to the wrong department for Secretary of Health and Human Services, “For Secretary of Health and Education Services, I nominate Xavier Bacheria,” claimed zero doses of the vaccine were administered before he got into office, even suggested there was no vaccine before he got in, mislabeled the number of doses dozens of times, and had his own webinar shut down by his handlers before he could take any questions.
I’m certain there were many others. We can only imagine what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling. Gaffes, of course, are one thing, funny, illuminating, interesting, etc., but policy stumbles are a different and far more important matter entirely. In this regard, it’s sad to say Biden hasn’t exactly been stellar either. From matters big to small, his early days have featured more than a few fiascos.
On the small side, there was a bizarre issue with marijuana use that ultimately led to five firings. Apparently, the administration had previously informed staffers that they were taking a softer stance on prior marijuana use and security clearances, telling them it would no longer be considered disqualifying for employment at the White House. To be sure, the whole thing is a bit of kabuki theater: Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level and theoretically anyone that has used it can’t get security clearance. Normally, they would just have fibbed and no one would be the wiser.
It’s silly I know, but not as ridiculous as Biden telling these staffers to be honest about it and then firing them. As reported by The Daily Beast, “Dozens of young White House staffers have been suspended, asked to resign or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use, frustrating staffers who were pleased by initial indications from the Biden administration that recreational use of cannabis would not be immediately disqualifying for would-be personnel, according to three people familiar with the situation.”
Note that these firings were after “staffers were informally told by transition higher-ups ahead of formally joining the administration that they would likely overlook some past marijuana use.” “There were one-on-one calls with individual affected staffers—rather, ex-staffers,” one former White House staffer told The Daily Beast. “I was asked to resign.” “Nothing was ever explained. The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained.”
On the medium side of the stumbles, we have some initial foreign policy, let’s say challenges, with China and Russia. First, Biden, for some inexplicable reason, decided that getting into a war of words with Russian President Vladimir Putin was a good idea. In an interview with George Stephanopolous last week, Biden agreed that Putin was a “killer,” prompting Russia to respond. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed “there hasn’t been anything like this in history,” added that Biden “definitely does not want to improve relations” with Russia, and described the current relationship with Russia as “very bad.”
Putin, of course, personally taunted Biden, asking for a one-on-one public debate, after wishing him good health. “Now, for the statement of my American colleague: How would I respond to him? I would say to him, ‘Be healthy.’ I wish him health. I say this without irony. This is not a joke.” He continued, “I would like to offer President Biden [the opportunity] to continue our discussion, but on condition that we’ll do so what is called live, online. Without anything pre-recorded, in an open and direct discussion.” “It seems to me, it would be interesting both for Russian people and for the US people, as well as for many other countries,” Putin added, while also denigrating US history as colonialist and genocidal.
I probably don’t need to mention that the mainstream media dutifully covered for Biden with The New Yorker claiming that he’d “rattled” Putin with the exchange. Of course, the article makes no mention of Biden previously acceding to Russian demands on an extension of the START Nuclear Treaty. Former President Trump had refused Russia a blanket extension before he left office, preferring to negotiate a better deal. Biden, however, on Day 2 of his presidency, completely caved and gave Russia what it wanted with no strings attached.
Now, somehow, they’re rattled in Moscow? Back in the real world, it seems far more likely that they sense weakness and are prepared to test it with frequent bullying and further taunts.
China also had no compunctions about taunting the US last week, launching into a practically unprecedented broadside at the administration’s first meeting with their Communist Party counterparts in Alaska. Newly minted Secretary of State Antony Blinken opened the meeting with some typical government pablum about how Chinese “actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.” China, however, was having absolutely none of it. Yang Jiechi, Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, told Blinken to his face “The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.” Not to mince words, Mr. Jiechi also noted “We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world. Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”
I guess China is rattled now too.
As far as I can tell, the only group of foreign nationals who aren’t rattled are the migrants amassed on the border complete with Biden tee-shirts. Even in that regard, the Biden administration cannot get its house in order, rhetorically or otherwise. Right after admitting the number of migrants had increased to the highest in 20 years, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was on TV on Sunday lying to everyone that the “border was closed.” He further claimed they had replaced Trump’s policy with a “safe and orderly triage system working with our partners in Mexico and humanitarian organizations in the international space, ” whatever that means.
Meanwhile, images have leaked of dozens of kids in Biden’s cages and it’s not pretty, especially as reports indicate at least 50 of the children have tested positive for coronavirus.
In short, stumbling up the stairs is no big deal, though lying about it claiming he was blown over by a strong breeze might be, but stumbling just about everywhere else certainly is. Where’s the media when you need it most?