At the start, people speculated the Biden administration resembles Jimmy Carter – someone tell him it was not something to aspire to.
I want to kick off this piece with a nod to the USA Olympic hockey team that generated the Miracle on Ice. For the 25th anniversary of that historic sports event, HBO produced a stirring documentary, “Do You Believe In Miracles?”. In order to establish why this otherwise overlooked winter Olympics sports drew so much national fervor at the time the film established what the national mood had been in 1980. The term “malaise” seems more than an apt descriptor.
Head coach of the US hockey team Herb Brooks turned heads across the nation when, during an early qualifying game, he was caught on camera getting fiery toward an opposing player. When a Finnish skater took a cheap shot at an American the coach was seen standing on the bench and pledging to the player were he to do something like that again Brooks would use his stick for…involuntary surgery. This drew wide notice, as it was a long overdue example of fierce leadership, something long lacking in this country at the time.
The nation was mired in an economic morass; inflation and high gas prices led us into a recession, all of which were sapping the citizens. This is something being repeated this very day. But the documentary also showed Jimmy Carter being regarded as a weak leader, something that also had a deflating effect on the populace. The Iran hostage crisis welled up, and the Soviets felt emboldened to make brash moves across its border, including into Afghanistan. Add to that, Carter was the first President directly investigated and forced to testify about allegations of suspicious bank loans made to his peanut plantation.
That type of neutered leadership is something we are becoming accustomed to under a Joe Biden administration. Replace Afghanistan with Ukraine, and you have a tidy corollary to the late 70s muted leadership in the face of Russian border flexing. The way Biden manages to travel abroad and diminish his stature has also been Carter-esque. His recent begging tour of Saudi Arabia was met with rare media scorn and a denial of service, and past international conferences have seen Biden shrinking rather than exerting US dominance or leadership.
Currently, Joe is sitting things out, after testing positive for COVID for the second time in as many weeks. That alone is not worthy of calling the man ineffectual, but the infection has had a canceling effect on almost all of his prior tough talk about the virus. His mockery of Donald Trump contracting COVID now looks petulant, all of the insistence of the vaccines and boosters has become neutralized, and the country, in general, has shrugged off panic.
Note how in recent weeks we have seen more stories openly questioning vaccine efficacy, and those reports are not meeting the pushback seen in recent years by the media and social platforms. The effects of the vaccine on children, and even how it affects periods in women, are being freely reported. These are stories that just a year ago would be grounds for having accounts suspended, but when the guy who pledged to eradicate the virus manages to catch the virus with the frequency of Cooper Cupp hauling in touchdowns, the only thing more contagious is apathy.
But the growingly obvious reality with the Biden administration is one of sheer incompetence. For quite a while, Joe has been measured as too impacted to be steering the ship, but in recent weeks there has been quite the shift in perceptions. The longstanding theorizing of “Who is actually running the administration?” has lately given way to the far more speculative “Is anyone even in charge around here?!”
It was believed initially Kamala Harris was the obvious benefactor, but she is now regarded as the heir-afflicted. The K-Hive is in such disarray she has staffers quitting with the frequency of a McDonalds’ ice cream machine. Ron Klain is usually suspected of being at the helm, but he is more adept at scouring Twitter for approving media strokes.
Even Dr. First Lady Jill has removed herself from consideration as the silent commander. She recently made a speaking stop where she endured heckling at an ice cream shop. Her recent face-plant at a Hispanic conference, where she called Latinos “tacos”, rose to more than a personal embarrassment when it became revealed her words were fully vetted by this inept administration. No fewer than three offices in the White House signed off on her speech.
The past week has displayed a mounting list of administration officials who appear overmatched for their positions. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre continues to display a lack of skill that defies her selection. When challenged on matters she cannot deflect with any skill like her predecessor Jen Psaki had, instead verbally resorting to curling up in a ball.
When the matter of Nancy Pelosi being threatened to have her plane shot down by China Jean-Pierre responded from her podium with a completely timid non-confrontational response. Insultingly, when she was challenged about the Chinese threat, she feigned ignorance on the matter – despite having answered questions on the very threat from the press room days earlier.
Attempting to clean up the issue, the administration sent out John Kirby, the strategic communications director for the White House NSC. Kirby’s communication skills were hardly what could be called strategic. He tried to deny there was a suggestion she not make the trip over the threat, then dismissed it as Pelosi making her own decisions. When he then had been challenged on the lack of a response, Kirby tried to suggest it was the press creating a false story. He actually stated the media was making the issue of China threatening to shoot down a plane with an elevated political official into a manufactured drama.
Then, not satisfied with already making the administration appear neutered, Kirby went on to make an even bigger ass of himself. He declared, “We do not support Taiwan’s independence.” This is not only a significant departure from the official administration position, it openly contradicts Biden’s own words from May, where he pledged to assist that nation should a Chinese invasion take place.
You have to both marvel and worry at just how must disorganized thinking is in play with these people in power. Nobody appears aware of what other people, let alone entire offices, are even saying and doing. Contradictions and obliviousness seem the norm, and the effect is that in seeking out who actually is calling any shots in the leadership you are at a loss who to turn to.
It feels like you are in a superstore looking for some assistance and every employee tells you that this is not their department or that they are off the clock. No wonder so many are tearing off their name tag and turning their shirt inside out, as they rush for the exit.