If you didn’t have a great Friday, at least you can console yourself with the knowledge that you aren’t Kate Bedingfield.
On most days, of course, the career-minded would love being Bedingfield — assuming that they can stand the politics and personage of one Joseph Robinette Biden.
That’s the Democrat presidential candidate for whom Bedingfield serves as communications director and deputy campaign manager. And, even on his most gaffe-prone days, the media is usually willing to give the former vice president and his people an easy time of it.
Friday was not one of those days. As you may have heard, Biden has been flip-flopping on the Hyde Amendment, the piece of legislation that prevents federal money from being used to fund most abortions.
As of Wednesday, Biden was officially against the four-decade rule. That was, as CNN pointed out, “a position that put him to the right of all other leading 2020 Democratic contenders, as well as Hillary Clinton and the party’s platform in 2016.”
Biden has been back and forth a few times on the Hyde Amendment in recent days. His default position was that he was for it.
Then he told an American Civil Liberties Union activist that he was against it.
Our volunteer Nina asked Joe Biden whether, as president, he would lift the Hyde amendment, which bans federal insurance coverage of abortion.
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 8, 2019
On Wednesday, Biden’s people said he “‘misheard” the question and was still for the Hyde Amendment, Fox News reported.
Then, in a speech Thursday, he said he was against it.
In case you’re counting, that’s four positions in the span of about a month, and three shameless flip-flops.
“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” Biden said Thursday.
While making “no apologies” for his previous stance (or stances, given that he’d had three of them in the previous few days) he said that “circumstances have changed. I’ve been working through the final details of my health care plan like others in this race and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents.”
“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to … exercise their constitutionally protected right,” he said.
So, Bedingfield was the one who had to go on CNN on Friday and explain Biden flip-flop.
It wasn’t a spectacular end of the week for her.
“Twenty-four hours ago, Biden was on the record, he was still supporting the Hyde Amendment. Walk us through the anatomy of this decision change,” CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked Bedingfield.
You may not be surprised to discover that Bedingfield did not walk anyone through the anatomy of the decision change, instead saying that “this is not a decision about politics for him, it’s a decision about health care.”
“You heard him say last night that [the Supreme Court’s precedent in] Roe [v. Wade] is under unprecedented assault in this country,” she said.
“OK, but when did this become an issue about health care for him, and not an issue about religion or morality?” Keilar said. (Biden is a Roman Catholic.)
“It is an issue about health care access, and you heard him say that last night,” Bedingfield said.
“Roe is under unprecedented assault, you have Republican-led state legislatures following Donald Trump’s lead … trying to cut off access predominately impacting minorities and — and women in underprivileged communities.”
First, that wasn’t the question.
Second, after years in government and months of either officially campaigning or kinda-sorta campaigning without actually declaring his candidacy, he discovered this all on Thursday?
As you can see, Bedingfield wasn’t particularly interested in answering that rather difficult question, evading it for a solid six or so minutes:
At no point was she able to answer Keilar’s question: “Changing from Wednesday to Thursday, explain to us how this happened. … What was the thing that changed his mind?”
“So why this change now?” Keilar said.
“Because if you’re trying to convince people that this isn’t about political expediency, which is part of Joe Biden’s hallmark or as he would hope it would be, then don’t you have to explain substantively how he changes his mind from Wednesday to Thursday on an issue as significant as this?”
Keilar continued to push for a reason, to which Bedingfield replied, “Well, you heard him say it. You’ve asked the question a lot of ways, I’ve answered it.”
“I don’t think you’ve answered it, Kate,” Keilar said. “Why doesn’t he explain it?”
“He has not explained the process. This is a serious issue. He has not explained his evolution other than to say that he changed his mind,” she added.
It wasn’t just that Bedingfield had no answer.
There was a deer-in-headlights look, like she wanted to reach for a Xanax or something to make this all go away.
The problem is that it won’t.
Inasmuch as there’s going to be one issue that will dog Biden throughout this campaign, it’s the fact that he’s manufactured to get elected.
The Hyde Amendment debacle is a symptom of the underlying problem that Biden faces, not the problem itself.
Kudos to CNN for pressing Bedingfield on it. One can only hope they maintain this spirit of thorough questioning throughout the campaign with every candidate.
One shouldn’t get their hopes up, however.
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