Here’s an epitaph for a failing presidency. CNN quoted a White House aide explaining that Joe Biden is having trouble effectively communicating with the American people because all kinds of bad things are happening and Biden does better with ice cream shop photo-ops.
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The quote comes in an article about Biden’s failure to connect with Americans explained in part by CNN that there is a generational split between old-fogey Biden, 79, and his inner circle of aides dating back to his decades in the Senate who focus on TV and newspaper front page headlines and young whippersnappers more attuned to social media.
It appears the media is giving up on protecting Biden. This ‘Biden White House bewildered’ story follows one earlier this week by NBC News on Biden’s flailing presidency, the departure of numerous Black White House staffers dubbed “Blaxit”, and several reports in recent months on the Hunter Biden laptop from hell.
Being familiar never makes the feeling less dreadful: White House aides emailing each other during one of President Joe Biden’s stops on the road, tracking who’s covering what he’s saying, which TV channels are taking the speech live — and realizing a number of times that the answer was none.
“You are thinking,” said one person familiar, “why are we doing this?”
…At the center is a president still trying to calibrate himself to the office. The country is pulling itself apart, pandemic infections keep coming, inflation keeps rising, a new crisis on top of new crisis arrives daily and Biden can’t see a way to address that while also being the looser, happier, more sympathetic, lovingly Onion-parody inspiring, aviator-wearing, vanilla chip cone-licking guy — an image that was the core of why he got elected in the first place.
“He has to speak to very serious things,” explained one White House aide, “and you can’t do that getting ice cream.”
Aides regularly talk about how little traction they’re getting from one-off Biden appearances or events and then — whether on inflation, the baby formula shortage or mass shootings or the other crises landing on Biden’s desk — he’s often left looking like he’s in a reactive crouch on the issues that matter most to voters rather than setting the agenda. Sometimes clipped moments from those speeches that the White House puts out on social media generate huge traffic but, at least as often, moments from the President appearing to be caught off-guard go viral on their own.
…Biden himself, meanwhile, is staying barely visible, spending all of this week at the White House and his beach home in Delaware, removed from any interaction with anyone who’s actually on edge about their bills going up. On Thursday night, he’ll deliver another speech from the White House on guns, one day after a hospital shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, just over a week after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and two weeks after a racially motivated mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
The President is a 79-year-old man who still thinks in terms of newspaper front pages and primetime TV programs, surrounded by not-quite-as-senior aides in senior positions with the same late 1990s media diet. Lifelong habits don’t tend to fade when people get to their desks in the West Wing.
“These numbers that get put up by ‘soft media,’” a senior adviser put it to others on staff recently, using a term meant to brush off all platforms that aren’t older than Biden’s grandkids, “don’t feel as real.”
…Older aides dismiss the younger aides as being too caught up in the tweet-by-tweet thinking they say lost the 2020 election for everyone else. Younger aides give up — what’s the point of working up innovative ideas, they ask themselves, if the ideas constantly get knocked down and the aides get looked down on for suggesting them?
This is a very long article by CNN and worth the click to read in its entirety for quotes like one from an insider who derides the new White House TV studio built for Biden as “the set from Jeopardy.”
Expect more articles like this as the November midterm elections approach. Biden’s failure to do a course correction at the start of 2022 does not leave enough time for any implemented now to turn things around.