Update (1800EET): In what seemed like an attempt to make up for the fact that this was only the second solo presser of his presidency, America's geriatric Democrat-in-chief stretched his Q&A out for nearly two hours. In that time, he blamed a gallery of villains for the woes plaguing contemporary American society. They included: the virus (but - and this is important - not the Communist-controlled one-party state that unleashed it), meat processors (for driving up prices on meat), Vladimir Putin and, of course, his predecessor, President Trump (but not Dr. Fauci, who helped finance the gain-of-function research that may have helped Chinese scientists create SARS-CoV-2).
First of all, Biden admitted that he suspects Russia will attempt to invade Ukraine. But if they do, Biden promised that the economic costs will be extremely "heavy". He has "never seen sanctions like the ones I’ve promised will be imposed" Biden said, referring to his rival, President Vladimir Putin.
On the geopolitical front, Biden also said that the US isn't yet ready to remove President Trump's tariffs on China. Does he have a timeline for possible removal? "The answer is uncertain," Biden said. His top trade official is working on it.
And as oil prices continue their climb, Biden said he is doing everything he can to increase available supplies (everything except another release from the US SPR).
Later, he said that it's not too late for talks with Iran to yield another deal. "There is some progress being made," but "it remains to be seen" if Tehran will make a deal, Biden said in a news conference Wednesday marking his first year in office.
He also confirmed that VP Kamala Harris will be his running mate in 2024.
Early in his opening statement, Biden said he wouldn't simply accept the status quo as a "new normal".
"I’m not going to give up and accept things as they are now...some people call it a new normal. I call it a job not yet finished," Biden said.
He also acknowledged that it's become "clear" to him that Democrats in Congress will need to break up the president's tax and spending plans.
While he claims to support the Fed's political independence, Biden said that it's probably appropriate for the central bank to "recalibrate" policy so as to effectively combat inflation. He also said his nominees to serve in senior roles at the central bank (including re-nominating Powell to serve as its chairman for another term) should be approved by the Senate right away.
The No. 1 takeaway from the MSM is that Biden's press conference was "longer than expected". Many of his supporters celebrated this as evidence that the president can still 'turn it on' when he needs to.
On length of Biden's press conference: you cannot answer the question "are you competent?" you can only demonstrate it. That is what Biden did today, and did it in a slam dunk. Anyone who has ever dealt with a hostile reporter, it is a task, draining, takes mental acuity.— David Doak (@SouthPoint1000) January 19, 2022
Others gleefully mocked them for grasping for a positive.
A hilarious number of people on here attempting to prop up Joe Biden’s press conference by complementing its length.— Kevin Dalton (@NextLAMayor) January 20, 2022
“It may have been rambling and incoherent at times but boy was it long”
Now, we imagine Biden is rewarding himself with a glass of warm milk and a nap.
* * *
President Joe Biden is about to cap his first full 12 months in office by holding what has been described by the NY Post as only the second solo press briefing since the former VP returned to the White House.
Readers can watch live below. The briefing is slated to begin at 1600ET:
Biden is expected to discuss COVID, his dismal approval rating and a range of other topics.
Biden has largely remained out of public view this week - stopping briefly to speak with reporters outside of the White House on Monday.
On Tuesday, members of the White House attended an economic briefing and also called Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö to discuss tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
Will Biden’s handling of the pandemic elicit tough questions from the press now that the omicron variant has sent cases and hospitalization rates to all-time highs this month? We think you probably know the answer...
More than 855K US residents tested positive for COVID Monday, according to CDC data, nearly 3x last winter’s peak of just 294K cases on Jan. 8, 2021. And about 150K US hospital patients have COVID, besting the pre-omicron record of 133K "variant" cases recorded last January.
To put this all in context: 352K Americans died of (or from) COVID in 2020 under Trump, while 474,000 Americans died of/from COVID in 2021 under Biden.
Murderer! Right, Salon?
Now, President Biden is running around trying to "take credit" for the dynamic drop in COVID cases.
The impression that Biden has been asleep at the wheel has helped to drive Biden's job approval rating lower; one recent Quinnipiac Poll tagged Biden's approval rating at just 33%.
President Biden's overall approval rating in the last seven Quinnipiac polls: 49%, 46%, 42%, 38%, 37%, 36%, 33%.— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) January 12, 2022
If QPac's numbers are that low, imagine what the "real" numbers might look like.
If even the left-wing pollsters have numbers this bad for Biden, the real numbers must be even more horrific. https://t.co/LiV8S7f7O4— Mollie (@MZHemingway) January 12, 2022
Either way, Biden is cratering.
The President only agreed to participate in Wednesday's briefing after his top media advisors desperately implored him to get out there and speak directly to the American people.
Joe Biden's Awesome First Year
To win an exhausted nation's admiration, all Joe Biden had to do was nothing. Instead, he's burning future votes like kindling...
The Gallup agency released a picture of the comet that is the Joe Biden presidency on its first anniversary. This is what a one-year, 14-point party affiliation swing looks like:
The pollsters put the numbers in context:
Both the nine-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter and the five-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter are among the largest Gallup has measured for each party in any quarter since it began regularly measuring party identification and leaning in 1991.
How great was life for Joe Biden a year ago? MSNBC’s John Heilemann compared him to Lincoln; PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said the return of the Democrats “felt like we are being rescued from the craziness and now here are the superheroes to come and save us all”; Rachel Maddow went through “half a box of Kleenex” in joy; even Chris Wallace on Fox said Biden’s half-coherent inauguration speech was “the best inaugural address I ever heard,” JFK’s iconic “Ask Not” included.
Biden looks bad. During the campaign, when he was challenging strangers to pushup contests and doing sternum-pokes in crowds while nervous aides bit their lips, you could make the argument he was merely in steep with his mental decline, which was okay. Against Trump the standard of “technically alive” worked for a lot of voters. Biden now looks like a man deep into the peeing-on-houseplants stage, and every appearance is an adventure.
He might say, “Even Dr. King’s assassination did not have the worldwide impact that George Floyd’s death did,” or repeat his evolving fantasy about getting arrested with Nelson Mandela (who according to the president also later came to Washington to say, “You got arrested trying to see me!”), or let it slip that aides are shielding him from all news (a logical takeaway from his “Let’s Go Brandon, I agree” Christmas moment). Or, he might just collapse into syllable-piles before casting around in fright, like this gut-wrenching “Where’s Tim?” scene:
It’s reached the point where MSNBC is permitting guests like Donny Deutsch to say things like, “He seems old.” In a panic, Party spokestool Paul Begala went on the network this week to deliver a real-life version of the old Mel Brooks “the peasants are revolting” joke, saying “the problem for the Democrats… is not that they have bad leaders. They have bad followers.”
As Paul Begala said, "the problem with the Democrats...FF
Biden has always been an easy punchline. A tumescent yeller with hair plugs is a magnet for comics.
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FInally, here are some questions that Biden might face during Wednesday's briefing, courtesy of the Hill:
- Is Build Back Better dead? Are you willing to urge Democrats to pass pieces of it rather than the whole proposal?
- You have warned for several months that Republican laws like the one in Georgia represent an attack on democracy. Why then did you wait until last week to make a forceful push to alter the filibuster? And would you support reforming the Electoral Count Act if other efforts fail?
- What preventative measures is your administration looking at in order to prevent another test shortage and other pandemic-related measures should another variant arise? What do you say to criticism that your administration is reacting instead of being more proactive two years into the pandemic?
- Have you been satisfied with the messaging coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Can your administration improve the way it communicates about the pandemic to the American public?
- You and your advisers have predicted that inflation will be transitory, but with the costs of food, housing and other essential goods rising, how can you assure Americans that your administration is focused on addressing surging inflation?
- Last week, the Supreme Court struck down your sweeping vaccine-or-test mandate for large private businesses. Will that be the end of your efforts to mandate vaccines or are more actions on the table?
- You recently called the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol an “insurrection” and an attempted “coup.” Do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute former President Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot?
- Can you commit unequivocally to running for reelection? Will Vice President Harris be your running mate? If you can’t commit unequivocally, who do you think should be the nominee if circumstances ultimately cause you to decide against running?
- Your press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Tuesday that Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine “at any point.” What is your administration going to do to punish Russia if it does so? Are you doing everything you can to try to force Russia to pull troops back from the border with Ukraine?