One of the reasons we elected Joe Biden to be President of the United States was to get away from the daily – nay, minute-by-minute – chaos that Donald Trump not just permitted, but encouraged, promoted, and celebrated.
Biden, we knew, was long-schooled in the ways of Our Nation’s Capital and would be able to restore a sense of grownups being in charge, however boring that might be to the army of on-line scribes who made a good living lighting their hair on fire with every new Trumpian Tweet.
Biden, while still a better choice than Trump, at his one-year anniversary, has been a disappointment.
I don’t know Joe Biden personally. The only two Presidents that bestowed that honor upon me were George H.W. and George W. Bush.
Even knowing them personally, didn’t give me any insights on what they were thinking or why they did some of the things they did.
I only say that because I think President Biden believed there would be a new “Era of Good Feeling” starting at noon on January 20, 2021. That there would be a national sigh of relieve that said, “Well, THAT’s over.”
I think he believed he could draw on his many decades of U.S. Senate service (including eight years as President of the Senate as Vice President of the United States) to get Rs and Ds to reason together and move the country forward both on the domestic front and in foreign affairs.
He was wrong.
Biden’s first year was far from a disaster, but as he turns into the clubhouse turn of his Presidency, he finds himself trailing the field and needs to begin making his way to the front.
On Wednesday President Biden held his first formal press conference since November 2, 2021.
This one went on for nearly two hours and while he didn’t nod off into his soup there was some evidence he was running out of gas toward the end.
Two hours is too long for a presser, and seventy-eight days is too long a span between these events. The pressure behind the dam for the White House Press Corps to grill the President – any President – just builds too much.
I am not arguing for a return to the daily Trump Show which led to things like his suggesting we investigate the use of ingested bleach to cure COVID=19, but somewhere between 1 and 78 there is a number of days that makes sense.
Just put it on the schedule. Biden can answer questions. He may get some answers wrong – like appearing to give advance permission for Putin to take JUST A LITTLE bit of Ukraine and absorb it back into Mother Russia, but the next day the White House didn’t deny he said it, unlike his predecessor.
One of the things the Administration needs to do is to get Biden’s defenders on the air.
It is true that a President is his own best salesperson, but it is also true that a President can’t be on the air – TV and Radio – all day, every day.
They need to set up a more-or-less formal system to get Members of Congress, Senators, Cabinet and other Executive Branch officials; and pundits on the air – TV and Radio – all day, every day.
A hundred years ago, when Newt Gingrich was Speaker, I participated in a regular conference call, early on Sunday mornings with GOP House Members who were going to be on one of the Sunday shows.
We didn’t give them talking points. They never would have dialed in a second time. What we did to was suggest arguments that they might make during the conversation that would help the viewing public better understand what the House Majority was trying to accomplish.
Members heard what other Members were planning to say and could, if they wanted to, adapt that to their own appearance.
If a Member asked for some specific piece of information, we had researchers at the ready to provide it.
This was in 1995. Google wouldn’t appear until September 1998 so quick turnaround wasn’t as easy as it would be today.
We know the press corps will chase the bight, shiny object of the day. Some days it is (still) Trump. Or Sen. Joe Manchin. Or Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Or Tom Brady. Rarely, however, is it Joe Biden and a positive message.
It’s a long way to this November’s mid-terms, but there is little doubt that if the Rs take control of the House, the Administration will be mired in impeachment within weeks of the opening of the 118th Congress.
So, it might be time for Biden to get to the rail and take control of this race.
See you next week.