Presidents are cool.
Barack Obama was so cool he was dubbed “The Chosen One,” and the media, as he once said, got all “wee-weed up” whenever he delivered his poetic prose.
“Decider” George W. Bush handily defeated two Democrats — even though he was widely despised and mocked by the MSM — because he won another more important contest: Who would you rather have a beer with? More Americans preferred the one-time party boy than Al “Lock Box” Gore and John “Flip Flop” Kerry. Donald Trump enjoyed the same huge edge over Hillary “Cough Cough” Clinton.
And of course, there was Bill “Bubba” Clinton, the Arkansas good-old boy who donned sunglasses and wailed on a saxophone on the “Arsenio Hall Show,” and even answered the age-old question posed by an MTV veejay — “Boxer or briefs?”
During press conferences, Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton were super cool, always dodging body blows and haymakers from the press corps. They’d bob and weave, deflect and distract, pontificate and bloviate and win by TKO every time.
But President Joe Biden is the opposite of cool, the embodiment of a stumbling, stammering dweeb, immediately stumped when questioned. His brain works so slow you can almost hear him mentally flipping through a Rolodex of flashcards filled with all the important things his advisers told him to say.
This last week has been really tough on old addled-brained Joe. Amid the worst pullout of U.S. troops in history — which resulted in the deaths of 13 American service members and left hundreds of U.S. citizens stranded in the country — Mr. Biden was forced to face reporters and, to put it mildly, he did not fare well.
Mr. Biden finally addressed the nation in a rambling speech after holing up in the White House all day as Kabul fell. In the end, he did what all presidents must do: Take questions from the Fourth Estate. But how he did was truly bizarre.
“Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here,” Biden said. “The first person I was instructed to call on Kelly O’Donnell of NBC.”
So many questions. Who are “they?” And who “instructed” him? (Afterward, Fox News’s Greg Gutfeld quipped: “Who instructed him? Was that also the Taliban?”).
Of course, the answer to both is his staff. Mr. Biden then proceeded to take questions from a throng of friendly media until he got to Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, who had a simple query that made the president’s brain explode.
A couple of days later — after still dodging the press — Mr. Biden held a brief event to update the nation on the coming hurricane, Ida. In the end, reporters did what reporters do: Shout questions.
Mr. Biden tried to hide. “I’m not supposed to take any questions, but go ahead,” he said. Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs tried anyway. “Mr. President, on Afghanistan–” she began before he cut her off.
“I’m not going to answer Afghanistan now,” Biden said.
He‘s not “supposed” to take questions? Says who?
Now, here’s the thing. Both actions by Mr. Biden are not uncommon — previous presidents of both parties did the same: Take questions from friendly reporters, or dodge them altogether. They didn’t ANNOUNCE EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE DOING to the world.
Then there was the “joke” Mr. Biden told as Americans scrambled to flee Kabul. As the situation melted down, NBC’s Peter Alexander asked Mr. Biden, “If Americans are still in Afghanistan after the deadline, what will you do?”
His response, after laughing, was: “You’ll be the first person I call.” He then turned and walked away. In what was surely a “coincidence,” the White House “cut off the audio feed from Mr. Biden’s response,” Fox News reported.
But that isn’t the end of Mr. Biden‘s brain flatulence. On Sunday, Mr. Biden flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to attend what’s called “dignified transfer,” when military members killed in action overseas are brought home. Mr. Biden couldn’t be bothered — he was photographed several times to check his watch.
Two fathers — Mark Schmitz, whose son was Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz; and Darin Hoover, the father of Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover Jr.— said the commander in chief did not check his watch just once, but after every casket was removed from the plane.
“They would release the salute, and he would look down at his watch on every last one, all 13, he looked down at his watch,” Mr. Schmitz said. “As a father, you know, seeing that and the disrespect…” he added about the commander in chief’s undignified behavior before trailing off.
But he regathered himself and continued. “I couldn’t look at him anymore after that. Considering especially the time and why we were there, I found it to be the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen.”
There were two main questions about a 78-year-old, clearly diminished man taking the highest office in the land: Can he handle the job? And will he really be running the show?
After last week, we know the answer to both questions.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.