Ethics Observations On The President’s Press Conference And Reactions To It

In no particular order…

  • On Hugh Hewitt’s show, Senator Rand Paul opined that President Biden shouldn’t be permitted to speak in public because it was dangerous. One might think that was an over-the-top statement (though censoring the last President was an ongoing project of Democrats, eventually executed by the party’s social media tools), but in the press conference yesterday, Biden appeared to give Russia a green light to invade the Ukraine. That’s pretty dangerous, I’d say.

The situation is clear: Putin is sabre-rattling about taking over the Ukraine in hopes of getting valuable concessions from the West to stay on his side of the border.  Biden is supposed to be making it clear that to do so would have unacceptable consequences, not by drawing an imaginary “red line” that he wouldn’t have the guts to enforce ( Robert Ludlum would have called this “The Obama Obfuscation”), but by being a convincing and formidable champion of international law whom Putin would have reason to fear. Instead, yesterday Biden offered a bribe to Putin by volunteering that NATO won’t make Ukraine a member. That’s bone-headed negotiation practice: giving away a bargaining chip without being assured of anything in return. (Joe has clearly not studied the Cuban Missile Crisis.) Then Biden suggested Putin “has no choice” but to invade now, and that his “guess” was that Putin “probably would go in.”  Oh! Then it’s all right I guess! Biden also said that the invasion would be successful: “The cost of going into Ukraine in terms of physical loss of life for the Russians — they’ll be able to prevail over time, but it’s going to be heavy.” In the alternative, Biden implied Russia might well get away with “a minor incursion.” Translation: “My advice, Vlad is take over  one piece of the Ukraine at a time.” 

Has any President uttered such dangerous statements affecting another nation’s sovereignty during a press conference? Paul has a case.

  • Journalist Andrew Feinberg tweeted this about Biden’s performance:

“[T]he one thing that strikes me is that he’s articulate and detailed in a way that is completely inappropriate for today’s media environment and easily weaponized by his opponents to make him look addled and weak.

Here’s an example of Biden’s articulation, and I didn’t look very hard:

“On the first piece, we have a number of treaties internationally and in Europe that suggest that you get to choose who you want to be with. But the likelihood that Ukraine is going to join NATO in the near term is not very likely, based on much more work they have to do in terms of democracy and a few other things going on there, and whether or not the major allies in the West would vote to bring Ukraine in right now.”

Biden is too articulate for us! What is Feinberg’s statement? “1984”? Gaslighting? Insanity? Rationalization #64? What native English speaker would hear or read a paragraph like Biden’s and think, “Wow, I’m dazzled!“?

  • In the same vein, there is the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, who was a Post house conservative until Trump Derangement ate her brain. I’m not being metaphorical: it literally ate her brain: X-rays would show big bite marks where her cerebrum used to be. Rubin wrote yesterday that her grade for Biden’s astoundingly inept press conference was “A-.” It shows serious brain erosion to think that, but it’s more serious that she would be willing to have it published.

Who would pay attention to a pundit who assesses all that bumbling and writes, “You know, Jack Kennedy’s press conferences were a teeny bit better, but Biden’s was close!”?

  • Here is another way fact-checkers deceive: by selectively choosing the facts to challenge, they imply that those were the only lies or misinformation that were communicated. The Post’s Glenn Kessler did this with the Biden press conference. “President Biden made some incorrect statements or made claims that lacked important context. Here’s a roundup of the statements that caught our attention,” Kessler wrote. “Round-up” implies he is flagging everything relevant.  What “caught his attention” were…

1. Biden’s phony and misleading claims about job creation.

2. Biden using inflation to claim credit for rising wages.

3. Biden’s mendacity about the deficit and his programs’ impact on it.

4. His dishonest appeal to authority, citing a letter written by economists in September as proof that his policies would ease inflation. “Biden’s plan has changed significantly since then,” Kessler notes.

5.  Biden said he visited an AstraZeneca plant in Michigan when it was really a Pfizer plant.

This last one is really diabolical on Kessler’s part: by including this trivial mistake, Kessler implies that there was nothing else worth pointing out. All good! Except…

  • Biden said, “I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen.” He really said that.
  • Biden said outright that if the Democratic power grab for Federal control of state elections wasn’t successful, the next election might not be “legitimate”:

I mean, sure, but — I’m not going to say it’s going to be legit. It’s — the increase and the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these — these reforms passed.

  • Biden denied that he compared any Senator who voted against the Democratic “reforms” to Bull Connor and George Wallace. But he did:

“Do you want to be on the side of Dr. [Martin Luther] King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis”? 

I guess that “fact” escaped Kessler’s “attention.”

11 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The President’s Press Conference And Reactions To It

  1. Jack, although I agree with all of the above, I’m surprised that you didn’t note the single most unethical moment of the presser: James Rosen’s (ex-FoxNews, now Newsmax) question that basically asked Biden to admit that he’s senile, drooling, incompetent and dependent upon disposable undergarments. Rosen used to be better than that. In addition to being incredibly disrespectful of the office of the president, it was depressingly obvious that Rosen was simply playing to HIS audience, not the audience at large. He was doing the same crap Jim Acosta was doing 18 months ago.

    What’s more depressing is that Biden handled that question one helluva lot better than he did the ones about Ukraine.

    • AIM
      Wasn’t Rosen asking hm to respond to why 49% of the American people feel he is mentally unfit for the office. Biden’s answer was I don’t know. The question wasn’t unethical because it gave Biden an opportunity to dispel the perception. The poll was a mainstream poll as I understand it and not one that has a bias against Biden. The poll was making news before Rosen asked the question so had Biden not addressed that issue the perception could grow.

    • Yes, you’re right; that’s a “when did you stop beating your wife” level question. It’s also unnecessary: Joe’s decline speaks for itself. I decided to focus on Biden and the post-presser reactions, but the reporters, who also didn’t do any follow-ups after soft-ball botches, were inept as well.

      • I was actually impressed he managed to stand up and do it for nearly two hours. That may have been the entire point, but regardless… “I’m having what HE’S having.”

        Got a big weekend coming up.;-)

        Have already been involved in two useless Facebook arguments about why Rosen’s bullshit was bullshit. I’m reminded of the Stealer’s Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle”: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right..”

  2. I wouldn’t want to be with George Wallace, Bull Connor or Jefferson Davis, because then I would be a Democrat.

    My, how times have changed.

  3. Jack, it’s not “the Ukraine.” Their strong preference is simply “Ukraine,” and that’s now been generally adopted. And there’s actually a substantive reason for this. I hope I explain it right. Apparently “ukraine” generically means something like the frontier or the borderlands, and the old standard of saying in English “the Ukraine” is considered a kowtowing to the autocratic Russian view that it’s just the edge of their own country. I also have to say that when you hear “the Ukraine” it comes across as a “tell” or marker of not being up on stuff – to which I hasten to add that you did do it correctly, just not at first, probably out of quick habit. So I understand, but I still think it’s important enough to note.

    I also congratulate Arthur for his first comment and Jack for confirming the observation. I take a back seat to nobody in being concerned over Biden’s performance in office, but Rosen’s question IS both that kind of playing-to-the-base that we have enough of on the other side, as well as being ineffective journalism. “Show, not tell” is very much in play here.

    • Thanks, I’ll be more careful with the “The.” Never thought about it much. I did know the word meant “borderland,” so since without “the” it sounded like Tonto-speak to me, and I fell into the trap.

  4. Are Biden’t handlers using Chamberlain’s treatment of Czechoslovakia as their model to handle this Ukraine situation? It is almost like Putin has dirt on Biden’s family from a series of stolen laptops and Biden has some sort of problem with Ukraine investigating his son’s involvement in an energy company. Nah, probably not that.

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