A new acquaintance invited us to join him for dinner a while back to get to know each other better. Ten minutes after the set time, a text arrived that he was running late. When he finally did show 45 minutes late, we were almost finished eating.
Tardy people are rude. Tardy officials are worse. They’re arrogant, using their self-importance as an all-purpose excuse.
Joe Biden is both. Unfortunately for America, Americans, and now, Ukrainians, Biden’s tardiness has long-lasting destructive consequences, too.
He was late boosting lethal arms supplies to Ukraine. Then, came his “tough sanctions.” Promising sanction consequences – really, really tough ones he said — didn’t deter Vladimir Putin’s invasion. He’s been prepping Russia’s economy to endure them for years now.
Sanctions are not deterrents. They’re punishments, and they land on a dictator’s people, not the culprit himself.
In the meantime, of course, thousands of innocent civilians and involuntary conscripts are dead.
As we’ve previously written, sanctions not only do not deter, they do not alter bad behavior either. Noticed any change in Iran’s nuclear ambitions or terrorism exports?
Is Kim Jung-un still atop his North Korean hermit kingdom, building ICBMs capable of reaching the United States? How about Nicolas Maduro, who crushed democracy in Venezuela and endures U.S. sanctions?
In fact, that dictator’s patience may well be rewarded, now that Biden is considering dropping sanctions because he needs to replace Russian oil.
No one – not even the most gullible Biden voter — really thinks Biden’s tardy sanctions will prompt Putin to stop the indiscriminate shelling and bombing and order his troops back home.
For someone who so often checks his watch at the most inopportune times, Joe Biden is chronically late for pretty much everything. Last summer, he showed up late for NATO meetings to inquire about an issue already covered. Britain’s Boris Johnson put him down rather bluntly.
Then Biden kept an audience of media and officials waiting more than two hours before finally appearing for a long-scheduled news conference.
Neither Biden nor aides provided any explanations whatsoever. Such tardiness raises legitimate suspicions about health issues for the U.S. leader, who turns 80 this year. Was he too tired to appear? Had his medications worn off? Or not taken sufficient effect?
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had scheduled the complete U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan for April 2021, before that forsaken land’s harsh climate permitted the annual combat season to open.
Biden inexplicably delayed the exit first to Sept. 11 for some kind of perverse symbolism and then back into August, a peak fighting period when Taliban forces were rolling across the country.
Biden was late to accept Pentagon and intelligence warnings of the enemy’s rapid advance. Then, rejecting military advice that at least 2,500 troops were necessary to cover an orderly evacuation and exit, Biden ordered all troops out before any evacuations.
And without offering Afghan officials or American civilians and endangered locals any warning. “I’ve got your back until I don’t.”
Belatedly, Biden accepted military suggestions to send 6,000 troops back in. Thirteen died in the resulting chaos that allowed a homicide bomber to infiltrate the crowd.
After promising on national TV to stay until all who wanted out got out, Biden prematurely pulled the plug again, leaving thousands behind, many still there in hiding.
In July, Biden celebrated the conquest of the coronavirus only to realize too late there was a new, rapidly-spreading Delta variant that was deadly and prompted another clampdown.
Coming after a premature victory declaration, new government restrictions, including a mask mandate that Biden had vowed to avoid, fueled a growing resistance and cynicism toward health officials and Biden.
It appears Biden has yet to realize that his progressive legislative ambitions far exceed his weak legislative clout and the desires of his party’s Senate caucus. Two more grandiose spending schemes, including his Build Back Better program, were torpedoed in Congress not by Republicans but by fellow Democrats.
Still, in his recent State of the Union address, Biden cited both plans as legislative goals for 2022.
All of which underlines a dominant characteristic of Biden’s increasingly unpopular presidency: He’s not a leader. He’s a reactive president.
Bad things happen. He’s caught unaware. He and his team scramble to find some kind of patch that clearly won’t solve the issue but sounds good. It fails to work.
Biden, who’s incapable of any miscalculation or admitting he’s made one, blames someone else. Putin perhaps. Or the media that devoutly protects him.
A year ago, as the appalling sums of Biden’s new spending surged into the trillions of new dollars while transportation problems created serious supply chain issues, consumer prices began to tick up.
Joe Biden dodges media questions whenever possible. One time, during a video conference, the president offered to take questions from friendly House Democrats. Immediately, someone in the White House terminated the video feed.
In fact, neither Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris appear mentally quick enough to emit coherent replies not in their prepared notes. The president of the United States, allegedly the most powerful person in the world, claims that unidentified aides have forbidden him from taking questions.
That just doesn’t pass the smell test.
Last June, consumer prices jumped 0.9 percent year-over-year, worst in 13 years. “We’ve seen some price increases,” Biden admitted. But he declared they were merely a transitory blip because new jobs were growing so quickly.
New jobs were not growing. Old jobs were returning after their pandemic cratering. Biden said he’d tame inflation with more spending.
Last month, consumer prices jumped 7.9 percent year-over-year, worst in 40 years.
Especially during an election year, the closely-watched price, of course, is gasoline. It began rising immediately after the election of Biden, who has loudly guaranteed to end fossil fuels.
The average retail price of gas during election week 2020 was $2.17.
The average retail price of gas last week was $4.10, an 89 percent increase. In some places, the price approached $7, a smoking stick of political dynamite for Democrat candidates on Nov. 8.
Donald Trump had slashed red tape and regulations on oil drilling and granted new leases. When Trump left office, the United States was energy independent.
On his first day in office, Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, rescinded leases, and closed drilling areas as part of his green energy program. Fifty-nine weeks later, the U.S. had become an energy importer again. OPEC rejected Biden’s plea to deliver more.
Turns out, even as Biden talked up his tough sanctions on the Putin regime, the United States was still buying nearly 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Russia, in effect helping finance Putin’s invasion with about $76 million in hard cash every 24 hours.
Only under mounting public and congressional pressure for such brazen economic hypocrisy did Biden belatedly announce with Friday fanfare an end to U.S. Russian oil purchases.
Joe Biden said at the news conference that developments showed the gas price hikes were Vladimir Putin’s fault and Biden stressed with his familiar blank face how important it was that the United States one day attain energy independence.
In the days leading up to the Russian invasion, Biden himself said Putin had decided to invade. Administration officials also coordinated intelligence leaks about detailed Russian military intentions and plans.
To have been truly effective as a deterrent to Russia’s military invasion instead of the desperate PR afterthought it became, Joe Biden should have done more than draw an Obama-style red line threatening severe sanctions.
To show his and allied resolve, the American leader should have started imposing these harsh sanctions on Russia and Russians, including a dramatic halt to Russian oil purchases, well before the missile, artillery, air, and tank attacks erupted. Even as the battalions assembled on Ukraine’s borders.
True to character, however, for the important reveal that he was finally halting oil purchases from the invading Russians 15 days too late, Joe Biden showed up in the Roosevelt Room for his own urgent scheduled media event. He was 44 minutes late.