Are the Bidens Talking Too Much?

US President Joe Biden meets with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday.


Evan Vucci/Associated Press

This column recently advised President Joe Biden to at least stop speaking in public when the issue is important. Mr. Biden’s habit of making rash, off-the-cuff remarks speaks to carefully crafted policy statements. Ideally, the president would take extra care to avoid off-the-cuff comments about nuclear-armed regimes. It now appears that some people in the White House agree with this column.

Unfortunately, the President is not among them. NBC News’ Carol Lee, Peter Nicholas, Kristen Welker and Courtney Kube report:

Faced with a worsening political predicament, President Joe Biden is urging his aides for a more compelling message and a tougher strategy, while angering how they have attempted to quash the plaintext personality that has long been one of his strongest assets.

Readers who have attempted to graph Biden phrases may disagree that the president is speaking plain language, and some may even question whether his public conversation represents a “strong asset.” But the NBC report offers an intriguing picture of the Biden White House, drawn largely from anonymous sources:

. . . Biden is unhappy with a pattern that has been developing in the west wing. He makes a clear and concise statement – only to hurry the aides to explain that he actually meant something else. The so-called purge campaign, he told advisers, is undermining him and stifling the authenticity that fueled his rise. Worse, it feeds a Republican talking point that he’s not in full command.

The issue came to a head when Biden declared at will during a speech in Poland that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” Within minutes, Biden’s aides tried to retract his comments, saying he had not called for Putin’s ouster and that US policy was unchanged. Angered that his remarks were deemed unreliable, Biden argued that he was speaking sincerely and reminded his staff that he is the one who is president.

When asked about the staff’s practice of clarifying Biden’s remarks, the official said, “We don’t say anything the President doesn’t want us to say.”

What on earth are we supposed to think of that? Raising the issue of regime change publicly for a country that not only possesses weapons of mass destruction but actually possesses one of the largest stockpiles of such weapons in the world should never be a spontaneous decision. Political substance aside, if correct, this report only seems to confirm suspicions that Mr. Biden does not bear full responsibility. The people running the “cleansing campaign” are all serving at the President’s discretion. If he doesn’t want such a campaign, he can fire her. This column hoped that the cleanup was at the President’s direction after realizing his mistakes, consistent with the last quote in the preceding passage. But the fury attributed to Mr. Biden suggests the White House staff is Not follows his instructions. How many of Mr. Biden’s predecessors had to remind staffers who the president was?

The NBC report goes through a litany of Biden disappointments, but history is a reminder that the president has recorded a very significant public relations success. Mr. Biden has persuaded many media figures to accept the economic tale he has been telling since the beginning of his presidency. Although the economy had been in full swing for months when he took office, the NBC crew reports:

Any evaluation of Biden’s performance must take into account the epic challenges he faced from the start.

“They walked in with arguably the most daunting challenges since Franklin D. Roosevelt, only to be hit by a perfect crisis storm, from Ukraine to inflation to the supply chain to baby formula,” said Chris Whipple, author of a book on White House Chiefs of Staff, who is now writing a book on the Biden presidency. “What’s next? Locusts?”

Biden is wondering the same thing.

“I heard him say recently that he said about President Obama’s tenure that everything ended up on his desk except locusts, and now he understands how that feels,” said a White House official.

In the midst of a string of disasters lately, Biden has felt like he just can’t take a break. “Biden is frustrated. If it’s not one, it’s the other,” said a person close to the president.

Media Spin is one thing, but Mr. Biden believe His own spin appears to be at the root of many of the nation’s current challenges. Despite the intelligently recovering economy when he took office, Mr. Biden demanded and received a $1.9 trillion “bailout plan” from congressional Democrats while dismissing the risks.

The Washington Post’s Mike Madden and Rachel Siegel now look back on the inflationary debacle Mr Biden helped create and recall the events of early 2021:

In the State Dining Room of the White House on February 5, President Biden argues that the US economy is at greater risk from doing too little to combat the downturn than from doing too much. His government had pushed ahead with a major stimulus plan aimed at bringing down unemployment, injecting new firepower into the anemic job market, and allowing the economy to grow rapidly. “If we make these investments now, when interest rates are historically low, we will generate more growth, higher incomes, a stronger economy, and our country’s finances will also be in a stronger position,” Biden said. “The way I see it, the biggest risk is not going too big when we go — it’s if we go too small.”

The no small spending explosion was enacted in March, and for many months after that Mr. Biden couldn’t comprehend what was happening in the US economy. The Posties report:

On July 19, 2021, President Biden downplayed the risk of continued inflation, telling reporters that price hikes are “expected to be temporary.”

Even now, almost a year later, does the President understand the problem that arises when Washington fuels consumer demand while holding back producers from delivering goods and services? According to the NBC report:

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., said the White House had failed to come up with what she called an “intellectually honest” plan to fight inflation — a burden that polls have ranked first among economic concerns the American is standing. A bill the House has passed to crack down on alleged gas price cuts is not an answer, she said.

“If I sound frustrated, it’s hearing from my constituents,” Murphy said. “They fight. This is not the time for political games. This is not the time to find bogeymen.”


Speaking of Bidens speaking in public
Regardless of the internal administrative debate over whether the president should ever move to unwritten public statements, there is certainly consensus in the White House on whether another Biden should make public comment.

Washington Post editors, who finally took an interest in the Biden family business just a year and a half after the 2020 election — and even longer since the New York Post published the story of Hunter Biden’s emails — published a report by Matt Viser, who managed to finish first Brother James Biden on the phone.

In his report, Mr. Viser first notes a pep talk emailed to Hunter Biden by James Biden in September 2017, adding:

James and Hunter Biden were in the midst of a lucrative deal with Chinese executives at the time, while Joe Biden was out of public service for the first time in nearly half a century, having left the vice presidency a few months earlier. . . Hunter received another email from his uncle urging him to take advantage of a Joe Biden-related financial opportunity. The urgency is clear, even if the exact issue is not.

“You need to call me now,” James Biden wrote on Oct. 1, 2017. “Just got off the phone with your dad. . . We have the two biggest days of our business life ahead of us!!!!!! We have to be smart, otherwise everything will go up in smoke! Please call me. You MUST keep calm. The timing couldn’t be worse. Calm and measured!!!! Repayments can be made later.”

. . . In a rare phone interview, James Biden said he’s trying to keep a low profile and he’s used more than a few expletives to describe the unwanted attention from Republicans and the media. “I’m the guy who helps with everything. When it comes to my family, I try to be as supportive as possible,” he said. “But that term ‘fixer,’ or any reference that has a negative connotation, is offensive.”

He added: “The notion that I’m an underworld figure and I’m a fixer or the cleaner or I’m this or that – I’m a very concerned family member trying to protect my family in any way I can, whatever a very ethical way.”

During the interview, James Biden thought aloud several times about not speaking to a reporter and then resumed the conversation. Eventually, his wife Sara entered the room and advised him to end the conversation. “Talk to a real person who knows me,” James Biden said, then offered, “You know what? There are not many who do that.”

Maybe one day Americans will learn more about the whole family. Mr. Viser reports:

James and Hunter Biden signed a lucrative deal with officials at Chinese energy company CEFC in 2017. As The Post previously reported, the company and its executives paid $4.8 million over 14 months to companies controlled by the two Bidens — though the energy projects Hunter Biden discussed with CEFC never materialized.

The agreement provided Hunter Biden with a monthly stipend of $100,000 while his uncle received $65,000, according to records on the copy of Hunter Biden’s hard drive and bank documents obtained by Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) were received. James and Hunter Biden have declined to respond to questions about that agreement.

A source close to Biden, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, declined to comment on several specific questions about his legal affairs, saying only, “Jim Biden has always maintained that he has conducted himself ethically and with honor in all his dealings.”

There are some things that even anonymous sources don’t want to address.


James Freeman is co-author of The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.


Keep following James Freeman Twitter.

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(Teresa Vozzo helps put together Best of the Web. Thanks to Harry Forbes and Aaron Burt.)

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