- - Wednesday, March 10, 2021

March 11 marks President Biden’s 50th full day in office. That’s halfway to the proverbial presidential “first 100 days,” but he has yet to hold a full-blown press conference.

That’s caused some mild “tut-tutting” on the part of the lapdog White House press corps, and that in turn likely explains why it was announced that Mr. Biden will give a national prime-time address on Thursday — as if to throw the lapdogs a bone.

But that prime-time address, focused on the anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, will be entirely scripted and read from a teleprompter, and it won’t be followed by reporters’ questions.

That’s problematic, because it won’t answer the unsettling question that has dogged the gaffe-prone 78-year-old Mr. Biden since he took office: Is he physically and mentally up to the demands of the world’s toughest job?

Even among some Biden supporters — in and out of the White House press corps — there are whispers about age-related cognitive decline and that he’s being shielded by his handlers from more than a question or two at a time because of it.

The latest in a series of jaw-dropping gaffes calling into question Mr. Biden’s cognitive fitness came Monday when he seemingly forgot Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s name at a White House event, referring to the Pentagon chief as “the guy who runs that outfit over there.”

Mr. Biden’s 15 immediate predecessors had all held formal press conferences within the first five weeks of taking office, according to The Washington Post. That means that one has to go back 98 years — to Calvin Coolidge in 1923 — to find the last president not to hold a press conference by now.

Nor has Mr. Biden planned an address to a joint session of Congress, which typically is delivered in lieu of a formal State of the Union address within weeks of a new president being sworn in. The last president not to do so was Jimmy Carter in 1977.

The liberal media never made any bones about their visceral dislike of President Trump, but he nonetheless gave the press greater access to him — and answered far more of their questions — than any other president in memory.

That makes Mr. Biden’s reticence all the more baffling, because it’s not like he’d get the same hostile questioning from the White House press corps that Mr. Trump did. They’re more likely to be softballs.

Mr. Biden cannot continue to employ the strategy of hiding in the basement that successfully protected his 2020 campaign from fatal gaffes now that he’s president. He must demonstrate his physical and mental fitness for the job. A free-wheeling press conference, answering difficult policy questions, is the very least he can do to demonstrate it.

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