If you are one of those people who wants more Joe Biden, Tuesday was your lucky day. The president delivered a double dose by holding forth on two distinct topics bedeviling his presidency.
The first was a long-winded, dreary and convoluted planned address on his administration’s response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. It dealt with life and death, but was delivered in an obligatory manner, as if he would have rather spent the time getting to know his new pet dog.
The second dose of Biden came during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters afterward, and it was there and only there that he showed real passion. The spark was a question over Sen. Joe Manchin’s refusal to support the Build Back Better bill and while Biden was careful not to throw more burning oil on the West Virginia Democrat, he grew visibly angry while claiming provisions in the bill are crucial for working- and middle-class families.
The price of certain drugs, especially insulin, he said, crushed “the dignity of a parent” who couldn’t provide medicine for their children.
Biden ended by saying, “Sen. Manchin and I are going to get something done,” which may or may not be true. But the short-term impact was to step on the story of the day, which had been about battling the coronavirus, the spread of which is helping to keep his public approval ratings in the danger zone.
Indeed, the entire purpose of the speech was to show that the president and his party are actually doing something as panic grows in some parts of the nation almost as fast as the number of new infections. Recall that the White House announced Saturday that Biden would speak Tuesday, which seemed an inordinate time to wait if this was an emergency. If something is important enough for a presidential address, it shouldn’t have to marinate for four days.
In between, officials put out a nasty and strange statement warning the unvaccinated that they faced a winter of “severe illness and death.” And a Merry Christmas to you, too!
Then, keeping faith with the rank incompetence he has demonstrated over the last year, Biden waited until the appointed hour on the appointed day and dutifully read from a teleprompter all that his team thought he should say. His message veered from “this is not March of 2020” to a long list of federal actions, including adding hospital beds, that sound eerily reminiscent of March 2020.
It didn’t help that Biden coughed and cleared his throat repeatedly during a speech warning about death and disease. He rarely looks robust, but given the context, this was worrisome.
Nor was he persuasive when he insisted to reporters later that nobody anticipated that any COVID variants could spread as rapidly as Omicron, while in the next breath saying, “I knew that was coming.”
The result is a plan starting Friday that seems to have been Scotch-taped together, and still isn’t finished. Press secretary Jen Psaki conceded that some aspects of the bid to send rapid tests to homes were still being worked out.
For my money, the contrast between Biden’s brief but passionate discussion on Manchin and Build Back Better and the long mushburger about Omicron revealed not only what Biden cares about, but also what’s wrong with his administration.
Simply put, he’s got his priorities backwards. He and the far-left activists who have taken over his party care more about the multitrillion-dollar spend-a-palooza, especially the Green New Deal portions, while most Americans are focused on avoiding the virus for themselves and their families, keeping schools open and keeping their jobs.
Dealing with the pandemic is not optional, yet Biden acts as if it is, even as his presidency has been severely damaged by the mounting deaths. He campaigned on his ability to tame the beast and blamed then-President Donald Trump, foolishly saying all the lives lost could have been saved if Trump had had a plan.
Yet far more lives have been lost to the virus under Biden than under Trump, despite the advances brought by vaccines and another year of knowledge. But it seems that Biden, at least when it comes to Omicron, still didn’t have a plan of his own.
Many medical professionals also believe the United States has been slow to develop mass distribution channels for both testing and treatments, relying instead only on vaccines. With some 40 million eligible people refusing to be vaccinated, those lapses elsewhere are why Biden is forced to play catch-up now, especially on the availability of testing.
Perhaps it was a way of signaling regret for politicizing the lethal disease that led Vice President Kamala Harris to say the other day that the virus was “nobody’s fault.” Similarly, Biden acknowledged that the “prior administration” had developed the vaccine and cited Trump for saying publicly over the weekend that he had gotten a booster.
Still, the main takeaway from Tuesday is that Biden himself will try to bring Manchin back into the fold on his signature legislation while it will be left to faceless bureaucrats to make sure his promises are kept on delivering federal help around the country to battle the pandemic.
And even if Manchin continues to say no, Congress will be consumed with a largely partisan exercise in voting on a bill that is going nowhere — all because Biden and Democrats think that for once, they have a winning issue and won’t let go of it.
Remember their focus the next time you hear grumbling about the disconnect between Washington and America. It’s an old story, but thanks to Biden’s misguided priorities, it’s new again.
State of moral decline
Reader Ed Sloan, noting my observation that nearly everybody in Albany was afraid of Andrew Cuomo, including some in the media, believes the ex-governor’s resignation won’t solve much and takes a grim view of New York. Sloan writes: “It’s also true that many people are moral cowards and moral idiots and that they are still in place in the media, the government, and civil society. A monster is gone, but we are still in a very degraded state.”
Power of good
Reader Paula Tanny asks a probing question that grows out of Lord Acton’s “power corrupts” maxim.
Tanny writes: “I’m sure people have wrestled with this, but why can’t leaders and politicians use power to do good things? Why does power always have to corrupt?”
Headline: McDonald’s Forced to Ration Fries …
Now it’s official: The end is near!