Robert Spencer, Everyone – including our enemies – can see he’s not in charge.
It’s one of the most awkward twenty seconds ever captured on video in a disastrous administration that lurches from one awkward moment to another: when asked “Do you think you may have underestimated Putin?,” Old Joe Biden first continued to stare in the general direction of the question, a slight smirk on his face, expression absolutely unchanged from what it had been before the question was asked.
A few seconds later he turned his head to face the camera and, after a few more seconds, grinned sardonically. A few seconds later, he began picking his teeth with his thumbnail, and then grins a bit vacantly before the video mercifully runs out. Amid all the wrong choices, erroneous policies, abject failures, and stupid missteps of this disastrous administration, it was a trivial moment, but it was a telling one.
Nor was that the first time that Biden had hinted that he was just a puppet in the Oval Office. In June 2021 at the G7 Summit, Biden said: “I’m sorry, I’m going to get in trouble with staff if I don’t do this the right way.” At a press conference in Nov. 2021, the Oval Office puppet gave the impression that he was not supposed to take too many questions: “I can take…I’m going to get in real trouble … this is the last question I’m taking.” On Sept. 8, 2021, Biden announced to a puzzled world, “I‘m supposed to stop and walk out of the room.” On Aug. 30, 2021, he told a reporter, “I’m not supposed to take any questions, but go ahead,” but when the question turned out to involve his catastrophic mishandling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, he said: “I’m not gonna answer Afghanistan now,” and walked away.
Biden’s press conferences are scripted; on June 19, 2021, he said: “I’ll take your questions, and as usual, folks, they gave me a list of the people I’m going to call on.” Through all this, however, the establishment media steadfastly refuses to ask Biden who is running things and telling him what to do. That person may be Barack Obama, who said in late 2020: “I used to say if I can make an arrangement where I had a stand-in or front-man or front-woman and they had an earpiece in and I was just in my basement in my sweats looking through the stuff and I could sort of deliver the lines while someone was doing all the talking and ceremony, I’d be fine with that because I found the work fascinating.” But since everyone is determined to keep up the façade, we may never know either way.
Anyway, what happened when Biden was asked if he underestimated Putin? He may have judged that it was a lose-lose situation: if he answered that he hadn’t underestimated him, the situation in Ukraine would stand as a rebuke to his claims, but had he admitted that he had underestimated Putin, he would be admitting to an error, which his pride and political calculation will never allow him to do. Or did his scripted notes not cover such a question, and so it had to be ignored?
There are any number of other possibilities, but the length of the awkward situation is also odd. A White House aide can be heard saying “Thank you” several times at the beginning of the video, apparently shooing reporters out so they won’t ask Old Joe tough questions such as, “Did you underestimate Putin?” But they don’t manage to stop the video feed until we get to watch the old man stare vacantly into space and pick his teeth. Biden’s handlers are so weak and feckless that they can’t even competently provide the illusion that their man is in cool, confident command. Everyone can see it. Vladimir Putin can see it. Xi Jinping can see it. They and others are going to act upon what they see.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an.