On Monday Joe Biden attended a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, after which he conducted a 30-minute press conference.
My colleague Nick Arama has specifically examined Biden’s seeming inability to answer a question posed by CNN’s Jeff Zeleny about Biden having previously called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” and how that might impact their talks in his upcoming summit meeting with Putin.
But the overall tenor of Biden’s press conference put on display for the European press and the entire world the obvious mental deficiencies that Joe Biden is suffering from. His condition — however it might be diagnosed — is not constant and continuous, but his press availability is so tightly controlled and scripted that when Biden does find himself in a difficult moment, his confusion and inability to articulate a coherent response are obvious to everyone.
Here is the YouTube video of the entire press conference. I have some comments with the corresponding timestamps below.
Biden begins the conference with 9 minutes of prepared remarks that he is clearly reading from teleprompters in front of him to his left and right. Nothing shocking about that, as prepared remarks are normal in this situation, and oftentimes a teleprompter issued for the optics of the situation.
Biden remarks touched on the following subjects:
COVID cases and deaths in the US, and the need for more people to get vaccinated. But the comments seemed a bit out of place given their emphasis on the United States given that Biden was speaking from Brussels at the end of the NATO Summit. Yet there was no reference made to efforts to combat COVID in Europe or elsewhere, or how excess vaccine doses in the US might make their way to European allies.
At 1:28, he made a comment that was either completely off-script or it was included to point out that Biden knew where he was and what time it was — one of which he still managed to get wrong:
Folks I know its after 9:30 Brussels time, 9:30 pm, and I’m still in NATO.”
NATO isn’t a place you can be “in.” It’s an organization, and it has its headquarters in Brussels. Biden is “in” Brussels, Belgium. At least he knew what time it was in Brussels, even if he wasn’t sure why that was important.
At 3:43, Biden said the following:
“Everyone in that room today understood the shared appreciation, quite frankly, that America is back.”
This was nothing more than an effort to trot out the tagline that the Biden Administration is trying to use in making changes to US foreign policy — “America is back.”
But what about the word-salad comment “Everyone in that room today understood the shared appreciation that America is back”?
The problem — as a couple more examples below show — is that Biden does not clearly understand the words as he reads them from the teleprompter. He knows what they are, but he can’t get them in order with the correct syntax because he’s not grasping the meaning as he reads. The line almost certainly read “Everyone in the room understood and shared in the appreciation that American is back.”
At 6:50, Biden turned to a new “Cyber Defense Policy” which he said was:
To improve the collective ability to defend against counter threats from state and non-state actors against our networks and our critical infrastructure
Again, he likely omitted only a single word in reading the text, but he did so without realizing the damage he did to the meaning of the sentence and then correcting himself. He should have included the word “and” between “against” and “counter” for the sentence to make sense. He just went on reading.
At 7:02 he states:
We adopted a climate security action plan… for reducing amissions from NATO installations and then adapting to the security risks of climate change while keeping a sharp, uh um a very sharp on our ability to deter and defend against threats.”
He clearly skipped over text here because no single word fixes the syntax of this sentence.
Finally, at the 8:15 mark, Biden seems to read what sounds like the final sentence of the prepared text as it provides a logical endpoint for his comments up to that point. While still clearly reading off the teleprompter, he said:
“That’s how we’ll prove that democracy and our alliance can still prevail against the challenges of our time, and deliver for the needs and the needs of our people.”
“For the needs and the needs of the people” is obviously flubbed reading.
But more significantly, at this point, Biden’s eyes dropped from the level of the teleprompter screens, and after only a momentary delay be began to speak again while not looking at the teleprompters — obviously off-text. He said:
“This is going to be looked at 25 years from now as whether or not we stepped up to the challenge cause there’s a lot a, a lot of autocracies that are counting on them being able to move more rapidly, succesfully in an ever complicated world than democracies can. And I’ll conclude that we’re going to prove them wrong.
And now I’m happy to take some questions.
The point he was making can be discerned from the text, but you need to watch the video to see the garbled way he got the words out. No one would have written anything in prepared remarks similar to the way Biden phrased his comments, and the video shows he was not looking at the teleprompter screens.
This is Joe Biden speaking off the cuff. This is the level at which the President of the United States can make his thoughts known — to the extent he even understands his own thoughts at the time he articulates them.
That particular point sounds like something that might have been said by someone at the NATO summit meeting — an expression of the idea that countries led by autocratic regimes are able to act with greater speed and dispatch to capitalize on unfolding events than are democracies which require more deliberative steps by elected officials.
I’ll try to return with a story later about the answers Biden gave to the questions posed by reporters — reporters who were very deliberately called on by him while reading off a list of names and their news outlets that he brought with him to the lectern.
I suspect the foreign press will not give him the same “pass” for the stage-managed aspects of this press conference that the US press has given for similar conduct over the past five months. That’s something to watch for in foreign reporting.
We are approaching the five-month mark of the Biden Administration. The G7 and NATO meetings have been on the calendar since the Inauguration. This was always going to be the test of Biden’s cognitive ability on the world stage and in front of the press.
As a country, we need to begin to plan for what comes next because it won’t be Nov. 2024 before that happens.