There’s a garden-variety gaff and then there’s a world-class blunder. Addressing a crowd in Reno and telling them that it’s good to be in Bakersfield is a gaff. Calling for regime change in a nuclear-armed Russia in front of an enthusiastic NATO crowd is a blunder.
Unforced mistakes of substantial consequence have become a trademark for President Joe Biden.
As a non-Beltway Westerner, this first became apparent to me during the Afghanistan withdrawal. Televised presidential disconnects were almost daily events. White House staff saying one thing, the president saying another and someone scrambling to explain the difference. The biggest blunder, as you will recall, came when the president promised to never-ever leave anyone behind in Afghanistan. In 72 hours he did exactly that.
And our friends remain stranded there.
Last weekend the president gave a forceful speech about U.S. resolve in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine, but raised eyebrows when he called for regime change in Russia.
“A dictator, bent on rebuilding an empire, will never erase the people’s love for liberty. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness,” the president said to cheering NATO allies in Poland.
Then he added:
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.“
What a blunder. So dangerous was it, in fact, that the sun did not set on the day before more careful people in the White House moved swiftly to “clarify.”
The president “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” but rather was making the point that Putin “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.”
This is the Biden MO. After an earlier speech on Ukraine, he was asked by a reporter about the failure of his sanctions to deter Putin from invading Ukraine.
He got angry and said: “I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter.”
Sanctions were not meant to deter? Well, that’s a big lie and we have it on tape. In January Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said: “The purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression.”
In February National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said: “The president believes that sanctions are intended to deter.”
So, White House press secretary Jen Psaki drew the short straw and was marched out to clean up this tortured deception.
She said: “If there’s a 95 percent chance of Russia invading without the threat of sanctions … and a 65 percent chance that they will with them, you’re obviously going to go with the threat of sanctions because you want to reduce the threat of an invasion. So, there is a deterrent.”
Where she plucked out the numbers “95 percent” and “65 percent” is anyone’s guess. What we know now is that Biden’s threatened sanctions did not deter Putin – 100 percent.
Don’t get me wrong. I root for our nation to navigate world affairs. But it does no good to sugar-coat how an untethered Joe Biden is proving to be very dangerous. It may be best for all concerned if he finishes his presidency like he started it – in the basement.
ONE MORE THING
– Pro Tip: Carry binoculars when hiking Tahoe so when you make frequent stops it looks like you are appreciating nature instead of fighting for air.
– I talk to myself because sometimes I need expert advice.
– Why am I the only naked person at this gender reveal party?
– Alcohol and calculus don’t mix. Don’t drink and derive.
That will do it for this week. I appreciate you reading to the end. As always, avoid soreheads, laugh a little and question authority.
(Sherman Frederick is a Nevada Hall of Fame journalist and co-founder of Battle Born Media, a news organization dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)