Since long before President Joe Biden ever took office, it appeared that the team behind his White House aspirations seemed to be more in control of the campaign’s trajectory than Biden himself was.
The lifelong politician is clearly settling into advanced age and behaves as such. Out on the campaign trail, he would forget where he was, and when the pandemic gave his team the perfect opportunity to keep Biden sequestered in his basement, he sometimes appeared to use a teleprompter during live on-air interviews.
After being inaugurated, it was months before he finally gave a solo media briefing as his handlers constantly warded off the nosey press pool.
Now that he more routinely gives comments to the media on his own, he’s said on more than one occasion that he’ll “get in trouble” if he speaks to reporters for too long.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki gained quick notoriety for frequently telling reporters she’d have to “circle back” to their pressing questions about the actions taken by the administration, which sparked speculation that she may not even have direct access to the president.
Regardless of how much contact Psaki is being given to Biden, she’s made clear that she’s not a big fan of letting him speak to reporters unsupervised.
Now, according to a new book from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, it seems Biden’s handlers have a word for their joint efforts to shield him from the media. It’s called “the wall,” and, if true, it confirms all of our suspicious about the concerted effort to mitigate Biden’s interactions with reporters.
According to ABC News, the journalists write in the book, “Peril,” that Biden aides work to keep the president away from “unscripted events or long interviews” for the sake of avoiding his signature gaffes, an effort they described as a “cocooning of the president” known by aides as “the wall.”
I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen this “wall” in action on more than one occasion if it is indeed a deliberate tactic.
So now we must face a glaring question: If Biden is executing his duties while being supervised by his handlers, who is calling the shots in the White House?
This was a question that Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho had for Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week as the latter testified on the administration’s much-criticized withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.
“I agree with the chairman that this withdrawal was a dismal failure,” Risch said during the hearing, according to an official transcript of his remarks. “One of the things we need to get to the bottom of is who is responsible for this? Who made the decisions? There are real questions right now as to who is making the decisions.”
“We know for a fact that the president of the United States is somewhat disadvantaged here and that someone is calling the shots. He can’t even speak without someone in the White House censoring it or signing off on it,” he charged.
“As recently as yesterday, in mid-sentence, he was cut off by someone in the White House who makes the decision that the president of the United States is not speaking correctly,” the congressman continued.
He was referring to an incident last week when, as he explained, the White House’s livestream video abruptly cut off during a visit Biden made to Boise, Idaho, as the president appeared to go off-script while speaking to a forester.
It was not the first time that Biden’s livestream has been inexplicably cut off in such a manner. Earlier this year, the same thing happened when the president suggested to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus that he could take questions from members. (In that case, The Associated Press later confirmed that Biden did take at least some questions from House Democrats.)
“I would like to know who this person is,” Risch continued. “This is a puppeteer act, if you would. We need to know who is in charge and who is making these decisions. And the only way we’re going to get that is when we have people like you come in and answer questions.”
That would certainly be a good place to start.
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