Just how out of it is President Biden?
On Monday, the president finally deemed it appropriate to answer some questions from the media.
After all, there is a major war taking place in Europe, so maybe the commander in chief should, say, tell the world what he meant when he said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
America’s going down the tube at the fastest pace in decades, so maybe the top elected official in the nation should, you know, explain how he’s going to get a grip on inflation and open up supply chains.
And crime is exploding in U.S. cities — all run by liberals — so maybe, just maybe, the titular head of the Democratic Party that wants to defund police should tell us what he meant when he said he didn’t want to defund police.
As usual, Mr. Biden had a list of preapproved (read: friendly) reporters on whom to call, written down on a little piece of paper. But his handlers had also armed him with even more: cheat sheets. And Mr. Biden’s so out of it that at several points, he held the cards up so photographers could snap pictures of them.
One card said this: “Tough Putin Q&A: Talking Points.”
“1. If you weren’t advocating for regime change, what did you mean? Can you clarify?” the sheet said.
Of course, the White House press office correctly picked the first question reporters would ask. And then they gave Mr. Biden the answer on the cheat sheet. The answer:
“[BULLET] I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the actions of this man.”
“[BULLET] I was not articulating a change in policy.”
On Saturday, while in Poland, Mr. Biden had decided to go off-script. “A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase the people’s love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down the road to be free,” he said, reading from a TelePrompTer. Then he ad-libbed: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
But the leader of the free world — whose every word is parsed and re-parsed because everything he says does in fact set far-reaching policy — had the audacity to say during the presser that he was “not articulating a change in policy.” His every word is policy.
“I want to make it clear: I wasn’t then, nor am I now, articulating a policy change. I was expressing the moral outrage that I feel, and I make no apologies for it,” Mr. Biden said to the first question, regurgitating answer No. 1.
To the second question, Mr. Biden again stuck to his crib notes again. “What I was — I was expressing just what I said. I was expressing the moral outrage I felt towards this man. I wasn’t articulating a policy change,” Mr. Biden said again.
Man, those cheat sheets really work. But the fact that Mr. Biden needs one just to say eight words about “articulating a change in policy” is certainly alarming.
Another passage of the cheat sheet presented a mock question on whether the mess in Eastern Europe is “now threatening to splinter unity with your NATO allies?”
Mr. Biden quickly flipped to his memory aid to find the answer, which said: “No, NATO has never been more united.”
But Mr. Biden didn’t get that question. Instead, he was asked if his declaration that Mr. Putin “cannot remain in power” “might escalate the conflict?”
Like a schoolboy who hadn’t studied the right chapter, Mr. Biden sputtered and faltered in a desperate attempt to reframe the question to one for which he actually had the answer.
“Look — you know, look, the other thing is that a couple people have asked me, as well — might as well speak to it, unless you want to ask the question — but, you know, that other governments have suggested that this is a problem, I’m escalating things. No,” he said.
Despite having the answers to the test, Biden somehow managed to screw it all up. So he then asked himself the question on the card. “And it has weakened NATO? No, it hadn’t.” Phew. And Mr. Biden did his trademark whisper as he embellished the answer on his crib sheet: “NATO has never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever been as strong as it is today. Never.”
Mr. Biden had a bunch of other cheat sheets, including one titled “INFRASTRUCTURE.”
“[BULLET] The United States now ranks 13th globally in infrastructure quality — down from 5th place in 2002.”
“[BULLET] China now spends 3 times more on infrastructure than U.S.”
“[BULLET] Bridges: More than 1/3 of our bridges (231,000) need repairs or preservation work.”
Sadly for Mr. Biden, not even the lapdog media in the room decided to lob a softball on that topic.
It’s not unusual for the president to have notes, yet they’re more like those Mr. Biden had on infrastructure — a few facts and figures to hit when answering a question.
But for Mr. Biden to have to carry a card to remember to say that when he declares a leader of a sovereign country “cannot remain in power,” he does not intend to articulate a change in policy, well, (checks notes) that’s pretty scary.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.