One would think the suspension of a heretofore obscure Biden staffer with the risible name of “T.J. Ducklo” couldn’t possibly be important or significant, but it is. The episode demonstrates that less than a month into his administration, Joe Biden has squandered his credibility and the public trust, and done so foolishly. The news media cannot save him from this, though of course it will try. Biden has already shown, with his appointments and his executive orders, that his pledges and promises are just PR bluster. For example,
…has already been shown to be empty words by his nomination of an anti-white, pro-black biased NAACP lawyer to run the Justice Department’s civil rights division. Rights in America are supposed to apply to all Americans equally, and discrimination on the basis of race is wrong regardless of the race. but Joe’s pick doesn’t believe that. His administration also quit the discrimination lawsuit against Yale for not admitting qualified Asian and white students in favor of less qualified blacks.
So much for that promise.
Then there was this one:
That one is particular amusing in a sad sort of way. The President hasn’t lifted his finger to pull the plug on an unconstitutional impeachment trial, fueled entirely by his party’s hate, that is guaranteed to inflame the partisan division in the nation further.
In these pronouncements, Biden has revealed himself to subscribe to the Obama style of dishonestly. Obama made soaring, general statements of purpose and promises of future actions, and regularly ignored them or violated them, hoping for minimal news media criticism (and usually getting it). The most infamous of these was his “if you like your health plan” lie, but there were others, like his campaign promise to ban lobbyists from high posts, his pledge to have “the most transparent administration” ever, and most damaging of all, his “red line” threat against Syria. Lies and broken promises like those are crippling to effective leadership; only the worshipful loyalty of Obama’s irrationally admiring base spared him the consequences that usually follow such recklessness.
Donald Trump’s brand of dishonesty was different. The subject matter was usually trivial; most of what the news media categorized as lies were exaggerations, puffery and hyperbole. President Trump was actually better at following through on what he promised to do than most Presidents, though that is a low bar. Nonetheless, he squandered his trust and credibility too, and even earlier than Biden has. If one of the anti-Trump media members is asked to support the “Trump is a compulsive liar” narrative, he or she will probably start with the President’s boasts about the size of his inauguration crowd. even for him, it was a spectacularly stupid lie, a Jumbo level lie that could be disproved with ease. Nevertheless, his press secretary Sean Spicer tried to support it, and Kellyanne Conway compounded the mistake by defending the Trump version as “alternative facts,” a phrase that would haunt the administration to the end. How much better off everyone, including the President, would have been if Spicer or Conway had just said, “Yeah, the President get exuberant sometimes and sees what he wants to see. No, it wasn’t the biggest inauguration crowd ever, and he knows that he will have to be more careful with his superlatives going forward.” After all, who the hell cares how big the crowd was? This controversy wasn’t worth losing one iota of public trust, yet Trump and his staff threw away a chunk of it for nothing.
Now on to Ducklo!
On January 20, when he was inaugurated, Biden told his staff,
“If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise I will fire you on the spot. On the spot, no ifs, ands or buts. Everybody, everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity.
This was much heralded as a rebuke of President Trump, who routinely was disrespectful to many. But it was also a pledge, and unlike Obama’s “red line” pledge, a pretty easy one to live up do. Yet when deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo threatened to “destroy” a female reporter who was investigating his relationship with another member of the media and made “derogatory and misogynistic comments” while arguing with her, Ducklo was not fired “on the spot” as Biden had promised. He received a one week suspension without pay, which is trivial.
Enter Jen Psaki, Biden’s Paid Liar, aka press secretary. She had already made her own unsustainable pledge, as I wrote about here. She pledged “truth and transparency,” which is hilarious coming from a staffer whose job is literally to spin, deceive, and withhold facts from the news media. But Ducklo was her subordinate, so she was directly involved in this episode where a member of the Biden administration treated another with disrespect. Thus she was asked at her press briefing regarding Duckglo and his rapped wrist,
“Now, it’s not a colleague being questioned here, but isn’t this, sort of, well short of what he pledged on Inauguration Day?”
Ol’ Transparent Jen just duckloed the question completely, saying,
“It doesn’t meet our standard, it doesn’t meet the president’s standard. It was important that we took a step to make that clear and that included not just an apology directly from him and apologies directly from us at the highest levels there, but also a step to suspend him for one week without pay,” Psaki continued. “That, in our view, was an important step to send the message that we don’t find it acceptable.”
Yeah, but Jen, what about the President’s promise?
After another reporter asked why she didn’t fire Duckglo, she said,
“He had a heated conversation about a story related to his personal life. I’m not saying that’s acceptable, but I just want to be clear that it was not about an issue related to the White House or a White House policy or anything along those lines...”
Yeah, but Jen, what about the President’s promise, which didn’t mention any qualifiers?
.”..He’s the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behavior set out by the President, nor is it the standard of behavior set by me, and I’m his direct supervisor.”
So you agree that the President’s promise applies. Good: then what about his promise?
“In addition to his initial apology, he sent the reporter a personal note, expressing his profound regret.”
That’s nice. But the President didn’t say a disrespectful staffer would be fired on the spot unless he sends a personal note. So what about the President’s promise?
“...He has been placed, as you noted, on a one-week suspension without pay. That is a significant step. I’m not aware of a history of that step being taken; you all can check me on that.“
I don’t need to check: it’s still not what the President promised would happen. Why is that, Jen?
“….And in addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico. I don’t — we don’t want — no one wants anyone to feel uncomfortable, to be put in an uncomfortable position, and that’s not behavior that we will tolerate. So, those were the steps that were taken, and we felt it was a serious punishment.”
Yeah, but Jen, what about the President’s promise?
The amazing thing is that firing the guy would relatively easy: it’s not like he’s irreplaceable, and doing so would send the message that the President means what he says. Instead, the message has been sent that Joe Biden is just a blow-hard, making these impressive, tough-sounding guarantees that he will ignore when they have to be met. Psaki, meanwhile, forfeits any credibility she might have by trying to cover for him, and doing a bad job of it.