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The common assumption on the right is that Joe Biden has been endlessly rehearsing answers to questions that will be asked by friendly reporters when President Biden holds his first-ever presidential press conference. But his response to a question shouted out to him yesterday raises a couple of alternative possibilities to consider.
According to Peter Doocy, the White House correspondent for Fox News, “[s]omebody shouted out to Biden ‘how are you getting ready for your press conference’ and he said: ‘What press conference?'”
Tomorrow is going to be hilarious. https://t.co/lQsfHC0CpX
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) March 25, 2021
I trust Doocy’s account completely. He has quickly distinguished himself in the briefings conducted by Jen Psaki with his tenacious and informed questioning. His position as White House correspondent is a huge leap forward in his career, and he would be a fool to blow it by making up something like this.
Here are the two possible interpretations of this presidential response, in order of their likelihood, in my opinion.
Biden is so out of it, so in the throes of dementia (which is an on-again, off-again phenomenon) that he forgot his schedule for today and all the preparation that he has done for it. After all, on the campaign trail, he did not know what state he was in a few times. If, as many suspect, he will be juiced up on some pharmaceuticals during the press conference (as many of us hypothesized he was during the presidential debates), yesterday he was in a down phase of activity and medication, so as to have maximum effect today.
Biden was having fun with us, mocking the notion that he is in any way at less than full strength mentally. There are a few problems with this hypothesis.
First, Biden is not known for his command of irony. In fact, he is a serial fabulist and has no solid ground on which to stand when mocking others’ criticism of his mentality. He’s lied about his class standing in law school and plagiarized others’ words and life experiences. Such a person who can’t withstand close scrutiny is unlikely to mock those who question him.
Second, there is plenty of evidence, including falling upward on the stairs for A.F. 1 three times, that he indeed is declining rapidly.
Other than Peter Doocy, who may not even get called on to ask a question, are there any reporters who will ask Biden questions more difficult than his favorite ice cream flavor? Not if they pay attention to the astonishing advice handed out by two reporters for the Bezos propaganda organ, the Washington Post. Nick Arama of RedState reports:
According to Margaret Sullivan and Jen Rubin, the question wasn’t really how Biden would do in the presser but whether the media could contain themselves from going too hard at him.
It’s a major test for news organizations and reporters in covering Biden.
And Joe Lockhart, a press secretary under President Bill Clinton, fears the press corps won’t be able to resist walking in with the mentality of, “We’re gonna show all the MAGA people we can be just as tough on Biden as we were on Trump.”
Jen Rubin was even worse. Any concerns or questions were just things “ginned up” by Republicans, according to her. So therefore media shouldn’t be falling for all that or pressing Biden on those questions. Indeed, Biden should be fact checking the media if they dared ask. No kidding, that’s what she said.
As my Post colleague Margaret Sullivan writes, “The burgeoning number of migrants — including thousands of children — is a legitimate concern and a valid story. But much of the news media seems to be using it to show that they intend to present [President] Biden in just as critical a light as they often did Trump — regardless of whether that’s deserved.” What’s more: The media storyline has been factually misleading.
In reality, there has been no surge of arrivals outside the normal fluctuation of migration. [….]
The lesson here for the administration is to debunk and rebut a false Republican-driven narrative quickly. As they do with covid-19 hearings, showering reporters with data rather than debating an issue on Republican terms generally works better. It is now also incumbent on the media to review its coverage and come clean with viewers and readers. When its breathless coverage turns out to be deeply misleading, it should explain how and why they got it wrong.
I confess that I will be watching the presser and hoping for a train wreck. But I strongly suspect that the same magic that made Biden perform acceptably in the presidential debates will be at work. Some combination of chemical and electronic wizardry will have him seeming to listen to and answer questions in a semi-credible fashion. The bar is set very, very low, after all, and his media claque will hail it no matter how sketchy it is.
If not, the pieces are in place for a transition to President Harris.