Well, that escalated quickly.
As my colleague Bonchie just reported, President Joe Biden lost it on a reporter asking questions of him after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was a moment that would have been setting newsrooms ablaze if the President was anyone but a Democrat.
As Bonchie reported, the question that was asked of Biden by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was simple.
“Why are you so confident (Putin) will change his behavior, Mr. President?” she asked.
Had this been any other president we may have seen a calm, well-reasoned answer. Instead, gramps got cranky and launched after Collins with unreasonable anger.
“I’m not confident I’m going to change his behavior. What the hell? What do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident? I said….let’s get it straight….” he said before claiming that any funny business from Putin will diminish Russia’s standing in the world. Before he finally walked away, he lobbed that maybe Collins is in the wrong business.
Biden is often angry with being asked questions, but usually, the questions are inconvenient to an established narrative he’s supposed to be carrying. His anger is usually the result of him being unable or unwilling to sell it convincingly against a question that’s hard to answer.
This wasn’t even a hard question to answer. It wasn’t worth getting angry about. So why was he so bothered?
All clues point to the fact that Biden was shaken by the meeting. His very broad and generalized telling of how it went is just another clue to that.
“There were no threats,” Biden said. “It was very, as we say, which will shock you coming from me, somewhat colloquial.”
“There were no threats, just simple assertions made,” Biden continued. “It was just letting him know where I stood, what I thought we could accomplish together, and what, in fact, if there is violations of American sovereignty, what we would do.”
He even seemed to take a swipe at Trump’s foreign policy expertise.
“I know we make foreign policy to be this great, great skill—but it is just a logical extension of personal relationships. It is the way human nature functions,” he said.
That philosophy is like getting into a boxing ring and thinking that the fundamentals of boxing is knowing your opponent’s favorite flavor of ice cream. This isn’t two friends sitting down to discuss heavy matters lightly. These are two world leaders leading countries that are diametrically opposed to one another in philosophy playing a verbal and mental version of arm wrestling. There’s a lot on the line when they happen, and not all of the stakes are laying plainly on the table.
Americans have gotten a very good glimpse of Biden and know that he’s rather weak when it comes to speaking, easily flustered, and can’t seem to keep his thoughts straight at the best of times. His history is dotted with failures and capitulations to the whims of the times. Most people forgot he existed until Barack Obama made him his VP, and later on, he refused to endorse Biden until he kind of had to. The press does their best to make him seem competent and bold, but it’s like trying to hide a collapsed building with a hand towel.
Meanwhile, Putin is known for his shrewdness and intimidating presence. He plays head games with his opponents and attempts to put them on their heels before he ever meets them. We see he did that with Biden before the meeting as Nick Arama reported by conducting drills off the coast of Hawaii, forcing Biden to move a chess piece before the meeting began.
At the presser, Biden had cards he could look at. He sat cross-legged with his hands clasped in front of him. Putin sat in a casual man-spread with his hands relaxed on his legs and no note cards. Biden was on the defensive, Putin could have yawned at any moment.
It’s unlikely that Biden left that meeting with Putin with confidence in tow, and later on, Biden would use a reporter that’s unwaveringly loyal to him as a verbal punching bag when asked about his certitude on Putin’s future behavior.
That’s usually the behavior we can see when someone is frustrated, overwhelmed, and/or defeated.
Whatever happened in that meeting didn’t go well for Biden, which means that it didn’t go well for us either. Putin was likely going into that meeting attempting to probe weaknesses and green lights for his future plans for Russia, plans that may rub the United States raw.
I’m going to guess he found those weaknesses, and I’m going to guess that Biden knows it.