If one were asked to give their impression of President Joe Biden, they might say he’s just good old Joe. Although he’s never been known for his intellect or rhetorical prowess, many view him as genial and conciliatory, a get-along kind of guy who’s always ready with a pat on the back for an ally.
According to The New York Times, that perception would be wrong. Behind closed doors, Biden’s “folksy demeanor” often disappears, the outlet reports. Biden-world insiders claim he is short-tempered, demanding and prone to outbursts that are often laced with profanity.
The Times says it interviewed over two dozen current and former Biden associates for this article. I don’t recall hearing similar reports about Biden during his vice presidency or ever. Frankly, I’m surprised the newspaper decided to print it.
Of course, this raises a question: Why did they print it? Perhaps I’m reading too much into one article, but The New York Times is nothing if not deliberate. Might this be the first in a string of articles portraying Biden as unhinged, and therefore unfit for the presidency? This could give Vice President Kamala Harris the green light to move on in, but I digress.
Without further ado, here are some of the article’s highlights:
“Let’s talk plain English here, he will often snap,” The Times informs us.
“What emerges is a portrait of a president with a short fuse, who is obsessed with getting the details right — sometimes to a fault.”
“Quick decision-making,” the authors tell us, is not his “style.”
“On policy issues, Mr. Biden, 78, takes days or weeks to make up his mind as he examines and second-guesses himself and others. It is a method of governing that can feel at odds with the urgency of a country still reeling from a pandemic and an economy struggling to recover.”
Before arriving at a decision, Biden “demands hours of detail-laden debate from scores of policy experts, taking everyone around him on what some in the West Wing refer to as his Socratic ‘journey’ before arriving at a conclusion,” according to the outlet.
“Avoiding Mr. Biden’s ire during one of his decision-making seminars means not only going beyond the vague talking points that he will reject, but also steering clear of responses laced with acronyms or too much policy minutiae, which will prompt an outburst of frustration, often laced with profanity,” The Times adds.
However, the authors are quick to note that, “He never erupts into fits of rage the way President Donald J. Trump did.”
Of course not.
The article describes Biden’s deliberative process over how to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in the November election and for Russia’s massive SolarWinds cyberattack last year. In late March, he reportedly told National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, when referring to penalizing Putin, “I have to do it relatively soon.”
Even at that late point, Biden’s “deliberations were far from over,” the report says.
“At one point, Mr. Biden lectured a group of veteran Foreign Service officers and policy advisers on the nuances of Mr. Putin’s personality and tried to channel the Russian leader’s thinking. His conclusion: Mr. Putin wants his rivals to be blunt with him.”
He is right to worry about that, but again, I digress.
As Biden prepares for the next day, he sometimes calls his advisers “as late as 10:30 or 11 p.m,” The Times reports. (I’m amazed he’s ever up that late.)
Meanwhile, several associates said that “Biden was quick to cut off conversations,” according to The Times.
“Three people who work closely with him said he even occasionally hangs up the phone on someone who he thinks is wasting his time.” Wow.
“Most” of those interviewed by The Times said the president said “little patience for advisers who cannot field his many questions.”
“You become so hyper-prepared,” former Biden speechwriter Dylan Loewe said. “I’ve got to answer every conceivable question he can come up with.”
Biden reportedly lashed out at Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a March Oval Office meeting “for failing to have answers to his questions about the agency’s ability to take care of migrant children, according to two people familiar with the exchange,” The Times reports.
Chris Jennings, who was a health policy aide during Biden’s vice presidency, told The Times, “He hates blandishing fast-talk that sounds like doublespeak. Doesn’t trust it, and he’s certain voters loathe it.”
The article discusses a March briefing about the border crisis with Biden’s top immigration advisers. He reportedly asked if any of them had visited the border, and “was met with silence, which prompted the predictable reaction: frustration. Four days later, the advisers — including the secretary of homeland security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, and Susan Rice, the director of Mr. Biden’s Domestic Policy Council — arrived at the border to assess the situation.”
The obvious question is why Biden himself, or better yet Harris, his appointed migration czar, hasn’t visited the border themselves to see the consequences of their reckless immigration policies.
After that, the article segues into what Biden eats for lunch and dinner, how he dotes on his grandchildren and other unnecessary minutiae.
Here is what The New York Times actually finds newsworthy:
“Mr. Biden is usually back in the residence by 7 p.m. for dinner with the first lady. The president likes pasta with red sauce, while the first lady prefers grilled chicken or fish.”
“In the vice president’s residence, the staff was instructed to keep the kitchen stocked with vanilla chocolate chip Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Special K cereal, one bunch of red grapes, sliced cheese, six eggs, sliced bread, one tomato from the garden, and at least two apples on hand at all times, according to a preference sheet they kept at the home. Mr. Biden’s drink of choice: Orange Gatorade.”
Finally, “the staff was told not to serve leafy greens at events because Mr. Biden did not want to be photographed with any leaves in his teeth,” according to The Times.
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