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The Walk Backs and Terribly Hot Takes Continue After Biden Calls for Putin's Removal from Power

Brendan Smialowski, Pool via AP

The world was watching as President Joe Biden on Saturday treated us to quite the off-the-cuff remarks during the end of his speech in Warsaw, specifically when it comes to how he called for regime change in Russia. "For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power," Biden said about Vladimir Putin. While the White House attempted to walk back Biden's remarks, by saying what he was saying was not actually what he was saying, the chatter has not died down. 

Perhaps one of the most tone-deaf takes on the speech came from Julianne Smith, the U.S. ambassador to NATO. She was asked during CNN's "State of the Union" by host Dana Bash if she was "concerned that, by walking back the president's comments, you and other administration officials may be undermining him on the world stage at a really critical moment?"

Smith's answer was to focus on offering "I think we all feel great about how the last couple days have gone" and "It was important for him also to go to Poland." She even claimed "I thought the speech was completely pitch-perfect," causing Bash to push for follow-up:

BASH: I want to move on, but I -- just because there is some murkiness out there, you said that the U.S. policy is not regime change, full stop.

Does that mean the U.S. believes Putin should stay in power?

SMITH: I think what it means is that we are not pursuing a policy of regime change. But I think the full administration, the president included, believes that we cannot empower Putin right now to wage war in Ukraine or pursue these acts of aggression.

Smith was more clear in her remarks when speaking to guest anchor John Roberts on "Fox News Sunday."

Other memorable remarks included those from Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), who serves as the House Foreign Affairs ranking committee. McCaul warned later in the program on "State of the Union" that "it sends a very provocative message to Mr. Putin" and lamented to Bash that "we are not talking about the issue at hand, and that is giving the Ukraine people what they need to fight this war. Instead, we are talking about the president's gaffe that he made at his speech."

Amidst the chatter on Twitter was the most terrible of takes, too. There were those celebrating the speech, which is to be expected from Biden's adoring fans, like those in the mainstream media or the particularly delusional Alexander Vindman

Not only did David Rothkopf hail the speech on Twitter and address it in an opinion column for The Daily Beast, but he also went on a zany ranting thread that in part warned about "authoritarianism" at home and tied Putin together with former President Donald Trump.

Then there were those who not only praised the speech, but attacked those who dared to show concern for the possibility of Biden's remarks--gaffe or not--getting us until World War III. 

Rothkopf took part there, but he wasn't the only one, and he wasn't the worst. Tom Nichols, who is often coming up with takes so to the Left they're often head-scratchers.  He took issue on Saturday with CNN's chyron that used Biden's own words. 

Even Nichols, though, to his credit, called out Biden's gaffe in a Saturday evening piece for The Atlantic, warning "Biden’s Comments About Putin Were an Unforced Error." 

"Now is not the time for improvisation," Nichols aptly mentioned in his speech. He did, in the beginning, and at the conclusion of his article, though, offer an explanation for Biden's gaffe:

What Biden was doing, of course, was being Joe Biden. He was speaking for all of us, from the heart. One of the more endearing things about the president—at least for those of us who admire him—is that he has almost no inner monologue and regularly engages in the kind of gaffe where a politician says something that is impolitic but true. 


It is hard to blame Biden for giving in to his famous temper after talking to the people who have suffered from Putin’s barbarism. But the words of every world leader matter right now, and none more than those of the president of the United States. We should now let his remark pass for what it was—an outburst—and get back to helping Ukraine save its independence.

It's worth telling Nichols, though, that Biden was not "speaking for all of us," and that we may not be able to let his remark just "pass for what it was."

Perhaps the worst, though, came from The Lincoln Project Founder Rick Wilson. Not only did he take issue with those who understandably are concerned with Biden's remarks, but he also related it to the 2016 election, as our friends at Twitchy highlighted. 

He does so with some pretty strong language, too.

This is what one would come to expect from a co-founder of The Lincoln Project, but that doesn't make them any less like hot garbage. In fact, it may be his worst take on the issue. 

It's worth noting that NBC News released a poll on Sunday, which not only showed Biden at a personal record low of a 40 percent approval rating with this poll, but that he's doing particularly poorly on Ukraine, as one of its major takeaways.

Biden is underwater on how he is handling the "war between Russia and Ukraine," in that 41 percent of respondents approve, while 52 percent disapprove. Where the president truly receives some frightening numbers, though, is that when asked, "how much confidence would you say you have in Joe Biden’s ability to respond to the war between Russia and Ukraine and manage this crisis," 71 percent lacked confidence, including the 27 percent who said they had "just some confidence" and the plurality, at 44 percent, who said they had "very little confidence."

The poll was conducted March 18-22. One can just imagine what those numbers would be had the poll been conducted following Biden's remarks on regime change. 


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