We have an intriguing and rather disturbing mystery going on with our current president. Someone behind the scenes – we don’t know who – is telling Joe Biden what to do.
He even acknowledges that, referring often to an unidentified “they” who gave him a list of people to call on, who told him something to say or something not to do. “They’re going to get mad at me,” he says.
And a sympathetic D.C. press corps is stunningly uncurious. No one is asking the leader of the free world who this person or persons are, instructing him to do or not do things or get angry at him for taking too many questions.
It’s eerie, even creepy, like a dramatic movie scene where U.S. Special Operators break into a foreign prison to rescue a scientist kidnapped for the secrets stored in his mind. And he looks up at them with drugged eyes and says, “I can’t go with you. They told me to stay here.”
What the hell is going on with the 46th president? We are about to celebrate the hallowed 245th birthday of the United States of America and the oldest man ever to sit in the president’s chair is being guided by some unseen, unelected hands.
This man was inaugurated back 158 days. It just seems like more than 228,000 minutes ago. In that time and even before as a warning, my Red State colleagues have documented Joe Biden’s mounting confusions and mental gaps here, here and here. And I’ve posted a couple, too, over here and over here.
Many of us have personally witnessed such a mental decline in loved ones. One day as I helped my mother back into bed, she nodded at a bedside photo of her grandchildren and said, “Who are they?” It’s gut-wrenching to anyone.
But she didn’t spend hundreds of millions of other people’s dollars to become commander-in-chief. With access to the nuclear launch codes. And firm backup from fellow Democrats with slim control of Congress, who are not going to blow the whistle on even a feeble-minded lever to power.
The episodic but routine lapses in Biden’s mental capacity could not have been more apparent than during his recent, vacuous trip to Europe. Barack Obama made his global apology tour for America back in 2009-10. This June journey was Biden’s apology tour for Donald Trump.
I initially missed this short video of the U.S. president at the G7 meeting: scarfed up against an apparent chill, wandering uncertainly alone among diners in a resort restaurant, like some Grampa Simpson. Until Jill Biden noticed her husband’s absence and scurried over to lead him away by the hand.
But there were other examples. Biden correcting his host about skipping an introduction of another participant and, in turn, being corrected back for missing it just moments before. Biden got lost in some remarks, kept confusing Libya with Syria. At the NATO meeting, Biden showed up three hours late for his own news conference. Did he need a nap? More medication? No explanation. And no questions.
His weakness and references to unidentified handlers was even more stark at the empty Geneva summit between Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
The ‘big takeaway’ from that high-powered tete-a-tete, or rather half-a-tete-a-tete, was a return of ambassadors to Moscow and Washington. That’s a made-up achievement. It could have been handled by a routine news release.
Biden aides tried to claim the important thing about the meeting was the two leaders were talking civilly. That is actually a good thing, Biden having called Putin “a killer” last spring. But let’s recall that two adversarial leaders talking civilly was nowhere good enough for Democrats when in 2018, Donald Trump became the first president to meet with Kim Jung-un, the chubby, high-living dictator of the North Korean hermit kingdom.
Normally, such diplomatic summits end with a document-signing, or at least a joint news conference to demonstrate for cameras the instant and likely temporary comity.
The faceless “theys” who shape Biden’s schedule and shepherd him around wisely derailed any joint appearance. Putin is only 10 years younger than Biden. But he’s a ruthless, former KGB colonel whose critics have a habit of dying from military-grade poisons. And Putin has basically arranged a lifetime political appointment as Russia’s 21st century Tsar.
Biden used to be active and mentally lively. Go to YouTube sometime and look at his past appearances, such as the 2012 VP debate with Paul Ryan. Alert, articulate, not terribly original, but clearly present.
Now, watch this short, cringeworthy video of Biden at FEMA headquarters in late May, trying unsuccessfully to read a prepared text sitting right in front of him — and getting lost.
Putting an old man through that sure looks like elder abuse, at least to this old man.
So, Putin and Biden made separate media appearances in Geneva. Putin’s was 55 minutes long. He called on reporters of his choice here and there, taking more than two dozen questions for almost an hour. No notes. No lists of pre-approved questioners. No teleprompter.
Biden’s was 30 minutes long. However, a third of that was reading off a teleprompter. He took seven questions, all pre-planned. Here’s how Biden began: “I’ll take your questions. And as usual, folks, they gave me a list of the people I’m going to call on.”
Why a list, you might ask? Because those reporters have traded their questions in returning for being called upon. So, the theys in Bidenworld already know what those reporters will ask. And “they” have prepared notecard answers for the president to recite. They want no wild cards.
Not by accident, Americans have become accustomed to thinking of presidents as completely in charge. Presidents have generally wanted to be seen as decisive, knowing pretty much everything. They don’t, of course. It’s image theater. But even as perceptive adults, we agree to play along with the conceit of an all-knowing commander-in-chief, on top of the news everywhere. Feels better than this.
Press aides have rushed to tell the public a president has been briefed on (Choose one: the awful storm, plane crash, mass shooting, power blackout, etc.). Don’t worry, folks, the president knows about it. As if that matters.
Not Joe Biden. As he was leaving a press event Thursday, Kamala Harris whispered into his shoulder a reminder that 100 people were still missing in a Miami condo collapse. “Oh, right. Sorry,” said the president, returning to the mic.
In March, Biden gave congressional Democrats a virtual briefing on his agenda. “I’m happy to take questions,” the president offered, “if that’s what I’m supposed to do, Nance. Whatever you want me to do.”
Biden did not get to do anything. “They” cut the president’s video feed instantly. And “they” scrubbed his offer from the archived version. If you were a chief executive with all your faculties, would you find such high-handed treatment of your decisions acceptable? Maybe Joe doesn’t know.
At an event the next month Biden took a few questions, then told reporters, “”This is the last question I’ll take, and I’m really gonna be in trouble.”
With whom? Isn’t this president in charge of this presidency? The last president who behaved with such uncertainty and diffidence in office was Jimmy Carter. Americans reacted accordingly. In his 1980 reelection bid, Carter carried but six states.