Above all, giving Trump his prime-time slot would teach Biden a lesson. It’s a lesson all self-respecting media should want to teach the president. He will get the message quick smart that if he leaves a vacuum, his opponents will fill it, and that being accountable for his actions is one of the most important responsibilities of a president.
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It is presidential malpractice to be so inaccessible, especially when we are embroiled in two wars and our soldiers are dying in the Middle East.
Has there ever been a president so remote from the people?
This is the second year in a row he’s bailed on the Super Bowl interview. He can’t say he’s too busy. The presidential daily guidance issued by the White House is remarkably light on substance and heavy on lids.
All he seems to do, between long weekends in Delaware and extended vacations in the borrowed houses of billionaires, is meander from one desultory campaign event to another, cocooned inside Air Force One and the Beast. He blathers through a few scripted remarks and then wanders around sipping iced tea through a straw and saying nonsensical things to strangers like “Don’t jump!”
He hasn’t done a sit-down interview since October. And, no, Conan O’Brien doesn’t count.
It’s nuts to pass up a prime-time opportunity to advance his agenda to millions of voters in an election year. No one is going to put a damper on the football by asking gotcha questions.
Anyway, for Biden, the questions are always softball. Sir, tell us again that Hunter did nothing wrong. How existential a threat is Trump? Is democracy at stake? What are you and Jill doing for Valentine’s Day? What flavor ice cream do you like?
Doesn’t he want to take the opportunity to blame Trump for the border. Warn us off MAGA? Tell us we’re at an inflection point and it’s not your father’s Republican party? He could tell us about his “sixth sense” for seeing dead people. The other day it was “Mitterrand from Germany — I mean, from France!” who’s been dead since 1996. A couple of years ago he saw German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who died in 2015. And who could forget “Where’s Jackie?”
That would make for good ratings — at least bronze class.
The only time reporters get to ask Biden a question these days is when he’s walking over to Marine One and the scrambled morsels out of his mouth are drowned out by the sound of the helicopter rotor. One reporter resorted to writing questions in huge letters on a big piece of paper and holding it aloft as he walked by the waiting press pack.
He seems to revel in his power to diss the media. He can’t keep the smirk off his face when his wranglers start yelling at the press pack to kick them out after a photo opportunity.
But it’s not journalists he’s disrespecting. It’s the American people, who deserve to know what their president is up to, especially when he seems hellbent on inviting millions of unvetted Third Worlders here illegally.
Apart from anything else, it’s political suicide to telegraph that your candidate can’t be trusted to do a friendly 15-minute interview with Norah O’Donnell. How can he be trusted with the nuclear codes?
Biden hilariously sees himself as the second coming of FDR, even referring to Trump as “Hoover” the other day. But President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was popular, and one of the main reasons for his popularity was his ability to connect with Americans through the media of his time: radio.
Joe’s no FDR
FDR did this with “fireside chats,” broadcasts in which he explained his policies and provided calm reassurance during the difficult period between the Great Depression and World War II. He also held long press conferences in the Oval Office — 74 times on average per year, according to statistics compiled by the nonprofit American Presidency Project at the University of California.
Biden has done 14 solo press conferences in the entire three years of his presidency. Trump did more than three times as many solo pressers as Biden. Obama did almost five times more.
The last one Biden did was in November, but he took only four questions from preselected reporters, seemingly on prearranged topics.
So much for bringing “transparency and truth back to the government.”
His handlers’ solution is to turn his truancy into a joke, Dark Brandon style.
“In a lot of ways, this dinner sums up my first two years in office,” Biden told the last White House Correspondents Dinner. “I’ll talk for 10 minutes, take zero questions and cheerfully walk away.”
Yeah, not funny.
In place of a commander in chief who takes command, a leader of the free world who respects a free press, America — and, more worryingly, hostile foreign actors — get viral videos of the president falling up stairs, tripping over sandbags, getting lost on stage, nuzzling reluctant children, forgetting words like “Hamas,” yelling into a microphone and walking like a stiff Slender Man across the grass to his helicopter. Projecting weakness, in other words.
You can bet he won’t participate in election debates either.