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OPINION

Biden Hidin’ Behind Incompetent Flacks

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

If the Chinese spy balloon flyover and this weekend’s related UFO shootdowns have made anything clear to the American people, it's that Joe Biden has been hiding from the press for the last two years and aims to do so for the remainder of his term.

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Biden has held the fewest number of media interviews by far of any of his most recent predecessors. And in the rare times when he does talk to the press, he takes few if any questions and then leaves the stage, often to stumble through the crowd or shake hands with imaginary people.

Even when he was in the Senate, Biden was known as a terrible communicator. When he ran for president over 35 years ago, he deflected and reverted to exaggerations when questioned by reporters on his qualifications for office. Four years later, he dropped the ball in a clear media lay-up as chairman of the Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill dustup.

Now, 30 years later, he's not only a bad communicator, he's too old to do the job, as even qualified orators would be at his age. This was laid bare this week, when for the first time in its 65-year history NORAD with American jets shot down intruding craft over its territory, including a Chinese Communist Party spy balloon and three unknown flying objects. 

And in the face of this unprecedented action Biden's handlers have him for several days once again in the basement as in 2020, unwilling or unable to deliver a clear message to the American people on a matter of top national importance.

Instead, his White House handlers — possibly including the Easter Bunny who led him around the South Lawn of the White House last year — have him once again hiding behind spokespeople instead of talking directly to the nation.

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The problem here is not only that the White House has little or no good news to communicate on this and so many other subjects — remember Afghanistan, when Biden left it to Pentagon and State Department flacks to describe that climb-down?  As was laid bare this week, the spokespeople it sends to the podium to shill for the president are not very good at their job.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre – famously a diversity hire with few qualifications – stumbled and bumbled from the podium Monday after revealing in an interview with MSNBC over the weekend that she can neither define NORAD nor pronounce correctly the name of our neighbor to the north. 

For his part, subbing in for KJP after her wanting performance, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby did little better, offering more white noise and no details to reporters. Was this E.T. phoning home, or Kirby and KJP phoning-a-friend from the podium in a “Millionaire” lifeline?

Certainly no one wishes either of them ill will, and they are very likely nice people.  Yet the fact remains, they have a tougher client than Jimmy Carter was 45 years ago. And, given Biden’s challenges with the English language, they have no choice but to walk the plank day after day to shill for him. With a weak hand and a weak boss, it’s hard to tell if they’re flacks or hacks. 

Like him or not, Donald Trump never hid behind spokespeople – just the opposite.  A former reality-show TV host, Trump talked routinely to the press, taking questions almost every time, and sparred openly with a famously hostile media. If anything, some argue at times he over-communicated, so much so in the eyes of his critics that liberal social-media giants banned him from their platforms, lest he continue to talk directly to the American people. But on every issue of consequence, from the al-Baghdadi raid to China to the pandemic, Trump and no one else was at the podium — and everyone knows he would do so from day one in the face of this week’s unprecedented shootdowns.

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No doubt about it – Biden’s hiding from the media after China’s spy balloon overflight and the confusing shootdowns of three unidentified objects has exposed this president’s MO. Whether or not he finally emerges from the White House basement to read a prepared statement on this debacle, the gig is up and it will be a lot harder for Biden to continue crowd-surfing the media for the remainder of his term.

John Ullyot is a U.S. Marine veteran and served as National Security Council spokesman under President Trump.

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