What does it say about our commander-in-chief that he’s indicated he might not be allowed to take too many questions from reporters?
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden gave remarks to reporters from the White House’s north lawn on the newly eased Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on masks and social distancing.
While President Biden, who has been given minimal opportunities to speak to the media, dutifully responded to questions about things like masks, vaccinations and meetings with foreign leaders, he insisted his last question would have to end the conference, as he was “really gonna be in trouble.”
BIDEN: "I'm sorry. This is the last question I'm gonna take. I'm really gonna be in trouble."
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) April 27, 2021
Let’s just pause a minute — can you even imagine President Donald Trump worried about getting “in trouble” with a member of the White House staff? Especially for taking too long answering questions from reporters? Ha!
Gosh, how many hours did he spend in front of Marine One, shouting over the sound of the helicopter, bashing reporters, talking smack about his political opponents and other world leaders and bragging about his latest historic accomplishments — as no doubt dozens of staffers and service members stood around waiting for him, aware things were going to happen entirely on his own schedule?
Love him, hate him or in possession of nuanced opinions about the larger-than-life president, you’ve got to admit it’s highly unlikely that anyone on his White House staff spent any amount of time browbeating or barking orders at that commander-in-chief.
Now, to be fair to Biden, this incident alone would not be very remarkable if it were, in fact, this incident alone. After all, it’s not uncommon for powerful and commanding men to be subject to the timetable of their high-powered executive handlers or even the domestic whims of their own wives.
It does not even necessarily strike one as odd that such a man, particularly of Biden’s generation, would quip he’d be “in trouble” with his staffers if he were to muddy up some high-pressure timetable.
No, I’m a bit more concerned about the context in which he made this joke and the administration’s history of seeming to keep the president in the same proverbial basement in which he was shuttered by his dutiful campaign through the vast majority of 2020.
Biden surpassed by weeks a 100-year record on the longest a president has gone without giving a solo news conference. He has been literally hurried away from reporters as staffers fend off prying eyes and questions. When he suggested to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a virtual meeting of the party caucus that he might take questions from her members, his live stream was suddenly and inexplicably cut off.
He’s tripped upstairs. He used notes and visual aids when he finally spoke to the media alone. Vice President Kamala Harris has been making calls to foreign leaders for him. First lady Jill Biden seems like she’s always ushering him around, mitigating his conversations with reporters if she can help it.
He accidentally admitted the border crisis was a crisis even though his administration’s official stance is that it’s not a crisis. There’s reason to believe his own press secretary doesn’t have direct access to him. The White House website edited a transcript to cover up an embarrassing gaffe.
He zones out in the middle of sentences and completely loses track of what he’s saying. He has forgotten what the Pentagon is called, what the Secretary of Defense is and who he even appointed to head the aforementioned “outfit over there.”
And this is all just since taking office. I haven’t even covered the transition period or the campaign, since I’m guessing neither you nor I need to be here all day.
The point is, the administration seems to be very carefully curating media access to Biden, so yeah, it is pretty concerning that he just said he might “get in trouble” if he answers too many of the reporters’ questions.
What’s all the more concerning, however, is to ponder the question of who exactly it is that Biden thought he’d be getting in trouble with if he said too much.