No Minister

Who’s in charge of the USA?

with 8 comments

Because it sure as hell does not seem to be “President” Biden.

Last week he got interviewed on the long-running American current affairs show, 60 Minutes on CBS, by one Scott Pelly, one of the friendliest Democrat interviewers around.

Predictably Pelly asked lots of softball questions and crucially, did not follow up on the answers – especially after delicately raising the matter of Hunter Biden, where Pelly allowed the President to put only his spin on it (it’s just GOP trouble-making)!

Yet even with such a soft touch, Biden got himself repeatedly in trouble.

First, with dismissive snark about the rate of inflation, denying that it’s a problem (“You’re acting like all of a sudden ‘my God it went to 8.2%’”). When it comes to bad economic news, there are two ways to handle it as a president. The right way is to admit the truth and then lay out a plan – preferably one with numbers – for how you’re going to improve things. Americans are very forgiving of politicians who speak plainly to them, as the likes of JFK, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton knew. On the other hand, the wrong way is to simply pretend that everything is just peachy and that anyone who doesn’t think so is an idiot. Guess which strategy Biden has chosen?

His skin is so thin you can see through it.

He also bragged about using the oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is at its lowest level since 1984, and which was established after the Second Oil Crisis (1979/1980) for strategic defense purposes – not to lower gas prices to ease the pain for the Democrat Party during elections.

Biden says he’ll refill it once things have improved, but that’ll be at $80 barrel. It should be noted that when Trump wanted to top it up at $24/barrel the Democrats stopped him in Congress.

But, incredible as it may seem, those weren’t his worst gaffes. He had two doozies.

Taiwan

Pelly: But would US forces defend the island?

Biden: Yes. If in fact there was an unprecedented attack…

Pelly: So unlike Ukraine – to be clear, Sir – US forces, US men and woman, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.

Biden: Yes.

Holy shit! The Whitehouse rapidly walked this back, making it clear that US policy has not changed – and that policy is one of strategic ambiguity where they officially will not say whether they would, or would not, defend Taiwan.

The thing is that the WH had the opportunity to wave a big stick at China almost two months ago when Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House and basically the third-most powerful US politician) visited Taiwan (Nancy Pelosi is doing the right thing)- resulting in a flurry of threats from China, one of which implied that they might shoot her plane out of the sky.

That last was always an empty threat, but still, in the world of diplomacy it’s harsh and should have been condemned by the Biden Administration – but it wasn’t,

John Kirby (National Security Council): “The Speaker has not confirmed any travel plans and it is for the Speaker to do so, and her staff. We won’t be commenting or speculating about the stops on her trip…Congress is an independent branch of government…the Speaker has a right to visit Taiwan.”
============================
CBS’s @NancyCordes: Why was the Speaker being urged not to go [to Taiwan]?
Kirby: I don’t know that she was…Who urged her not to go?
C: [Biden] said on July 20 that the military doesn’t think it’s a good idea for her to go.
K: [She] makes her own decisions.
====
Reporter: “Why did the president bother w/ this drama…why not call the Chinese bluff or tell them to pound sand?”
Kirby: “What’s the drama?”
R: “Have you watched the [Chinese] briefings the past couple weeks?”
K: “I haven’t seen any drama…you’re manufacturing it with your question.”

So weak as dishwater back then – now yammering about US troops defending Taiwan against a Chinese invasion. It’s schizophrenic.

Admittedly Pelosi was not much better; with her back-and-forth media announcements and initial hesitation in the face of the Chinese threats, she added to the strategic confusion at the White House and Pentagon who opposed her visit, and she never really explained why she was visiting, saying that as a child she used to like China and at the beach would dig in the sand to reach Beijing. Seriously? As historian VDH summed up, her diplomacy was childlike:

In other words, in her eight decades since infancy, Pelosi has not yet learned the difference between Chinese Taiwan and the Chinese Communist mainland and has come up with no greater affinity with the Chinese than remembering as a child vainly digging in the sand to reach them.

The internal administration discord reminded the Chinese that the Biden Administration can still become even more inept than it has been since its inaugural humiliation in Anchorage, Alaska. 

And lastly, Pelosi showboated with loud freedom rhetoric while carrying a mere twig.

So, yes, ostensibly, it was silly for Nancy Pelosi to freelance in foreign policy by going to Taiwan. She has no record of any foreign policy accomplishment. Ever since her first speakership 15 years ago, Pelosi has always seen foreign policy as an arena to embarrass her political opponents.

We remember her dishonest post-9/11 public reversals about enhanced interrogations, and her all-but-rooting-for the surge in Iraq to fail.

We remember her lunatic visit and glad-handing with the murderous, children-killing Assad government in Syria (i.e., “The road to Damascus is a road to peace.”)?

While in Damascus in 2007, Pelosi legitimized the Syrian dictatorship right after it had helped start the 2006 Lebanon war, right during the U.S. surge in Iraq, and right during the influx of Syria’s jihadists across the open border to Iraq to kill Americans. 

The cherry on top was getting snubbed by the South Korean president when she dropped in to visit there.

But Pelosi’s incoherence is no excuse for that of the Biden Administration’s, so the South Korean snubbing of her should not be a surprise. It was aimed at the whole US government.

Covid-19

The other remark that got him in big trouble was his declaration that “the pandemic is over.”

Aside from totally pissing off that part of the Democrat base that never wants to see an end to mask mandates or any other aspect of government control for the disease, it also threatened to blow up his recently announced Student Loan forgiveness program.

Why? Because that relies on an existing piece of legislation, the 2003 HEROES Act, which was passed to relieve the loan burden from university students who might get called up for military service during their studies (these are people already signed on to the military and who have likely done training or even service but are studying at present).

Obviously it was a stretch to use that Act for all students, but the key word was “Emergency” written in the Black Letter law; as long as the Chinese Lung Rot is an “Emergency” the loan forgiveness plan might stand up to court challenges.

But if “the pandemic is over.” then the whole thing collapses. Not a good look with the Mid-Term elections coming up fast. So the The Powers That Be had to throw Biden under the bus on that one too.

You feeling all that experience and competence yet? All the stuff that Biden supporters screamed that Trump had none of but Biden had in spades? Back to “norms” – and no Mean Tweets.

Ace of Spades had a good take on what’s actually going on here:

It is clear to me that he is not fronting any one person or even a small, tight-knit cabal that is actually in charge. What he’s fronting appears to be an enormous complex of competing committees. There have been many examples, but the two big ones in my mind are the Afghanistan withdrawal and the COVID wind-down.
….
COVID has been slower-motion but similar. What I call the “COVID is over” faction starting sending up trial balloons just before Delta hit. The “COVID forever” faction won that round. The “over” faction tried again in December(ish) of last year, just as Omicron was hitting. They were more successful and went harder at it. They have ultimately won the war, though the occasional battle is still being fought.

And Biden has been right there saying that both sides are right all the while. Sometimes COVID is over, sometimes COVID is never over. Sometimes Afghanistan was just bad luck and Trump’s fault. Other times, it all went according to plan and was the Afghan government’s fault. It likely depends on which faction is feeding him his talking points.

That sounds about right. You see such faction fights in all parties, and when the leadership is lost the fights are obvious and destabilising (see Labour 2008-2017 and National 2020-2022).

But being that New Zealand is such a pipsqueak of a nation such things only hurt us. When it’s a US Presidential Administration a lot of people around the world could get hurt badly.

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8 Responses

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  1. Having watched Biden over the last 6 months I doubt he is even in charge of himself.

    mrspdm and I are going to a Chatham Club (Dementia) fundraiser in Hastings tomorrow. I would not be surprised to see Biden as an exhibit there.

    pdm1946

    September 24, 2022 at 12:40 pm

  2. Remember. When you think Judge Holden, think Paul Joseph Watson

    Judge Holden

    September 24, 2022 at 4:08 pm

  3. Tom are you having a moment of weakness.

    I see the obnxious Judge has slipped a post past the keeper.

    pdm1946

    September 24, 2022 at 6:37 pm

  4. There is a fairly obvious answer to the question you pose…

    …but it will go over your head

    Andrei

    September 24, 2022 at 6:58 pm

  5. Obama.

    Tanya

    September 25, 2022 at 11:32 am

  6. I agree Tanya there is a concerted campaign to maintain O’Bama as the real power while his Veep is destroying so much of his dwindling legacy. The same strategy was in place to maintain Billy Boy Clinton but the disastrous campaign of his self aggrandising missus plus the Epstein saga that has been successfully kept under cover while poor old Andy Windsor has been trammelled into character annihilation, all the while better presidents do not need anyone to preserve their record.

    Gravedodger

    September 25, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    • I’ve had no doubt that this was an attempt at an Obama 3rd term since I saw the numbers of former Obama staffers joining the Biden Administration.

      But that’s a very different thing from having Obama pulling the strings directly. I don’t accept that; aside from anything else Obama and his team were never this incompetent.

      And that’s actually the main problem they face, the same problem that Labour is facing here; that they’re simply not competent enough to get what they want. Although in the same way they can cause shitloads of damage before they get booted.

      Tom Hunter

      September 25, 2022 at 5:41 pm


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