Good Sunday morning, Packers fans. I wish I could say that pitchers and catchers report in three weeks, but there’s a lock out.
Sometimes here at YSDA we like to assign ourselves the task of making a counter-intuitive argument. It’s like doing an extra set of stomach crunches. Tones the writing muscles. Makes us better and stronger for the average weekday blog.
So, today’s workout involves not only defending Pres. Joe Biden’s marathon press conference of last week but making the case that he should do one every week. Yeah, I know, a tall order, but here goes.
For a lot people, Biden’s performance reminded them why he (or more likely, his staff) has decided to limit free-ranging pressers. In response to a question about Russian aggression along their borders with Ukraine, the president seemed to suggest that a little incursion here or there would be okay with him. The administration spent the rest of the week mopping up around that spill.
But here’s the thing. In two hours of back and forth this was Biden’s only serious gaffe. For a guy known to be gaffe-machine that’s a pretty good performance. And don’t even bring up Donald Trump. That guy also did few formal press conferences, but you couldn’t shut him up in his informal chats with reporters as he left the White House or had some other event. Trump spewed lies, misinformation, venom and just utter stupidity.
His line of the day also dominated the news. And that’s my first point. Whatever the president says, just by virtue of his being the president, commands attention. It takes up oxygen that would otherwise go to other pols and other stories. If nothing else, the president gets to set the agenda.
My second argument is that, the one gaffe aside, Biden did quite well at this exercise. He comes off as informed, compassionate and, for lack of a better word, authentic. He’s just a decent guy and it shows. So, let it show.
Third, it counters arguments about his abilities at age 78. He jousted with reporters half his age (where’s Helen Thomas when you need her?) for two hours and he looked good to go for another round. What if he did that every week? After awhile the story would become how amazing it was that the guy still ran intellectual marathons at his advanced age.
Fourth, his gaffes might become endearing. Look, if he does a press conference every week then it is inevitable that there will be more mistakes like the one about Russian incursion. After a few weeks of these mistakes, they’ll make less news. ‘Oh, that’s just Joe being Joe.’ This happened with Trump. The guy said so many stupid and outrageous things that the press and the public became numb to them. But in Biden’s case, you’d have a president who answers 90% of the questions with alacrity and empathy. His one or two weekly screw-ups would be no big deal and maybe even cause for gentle ribbing.
Biden’s greatest asset is his fundamental decency, which contrasts so well with the fundamental awfulness of his predecessor. It’s more than worth the risk of the occasional gaffe to let that decency shine.
Welcome to the 339th day of consecutive posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!