“Biden has always been more open about his thinking than most politicians”

Offhand remarks that vary from the official talking points have become a feature, not a bug, of the Biden presidency, as he demonstrated again on Monday when he dispensed with decades of “strategic ambiguity” and indicated that he would militarily defend Taiwan against attack by China.

Each time he says what he really thinks, there is the ritual cleanup brigade dispatched by the White House to pretend that he did not really say what he clearly articulated — or that even if he did, it did not really amount to a change in policy. But then Mr. Biden, unperturbed and unapologetic, goes out and does it all over again…

“Biden has always been more open about his thinking than most politicians,” said David Axelrod, who saw that up close as President Barack Obama’s senior adviser while Mr. Biden was vice president. “Everyone’s strength is their weakness. His strength is authenticity. His weakness is he’s sometimes more willing than his staff would like to share his thoughts.”…

But presidential freelancing carries more consequences than when a senator or even a vice president does it. A president’s words are scrutinized to a forensic degree by politicians, diplomats and intelligence agencies around the globe searching for meaning and endeavoring to predict future actions. Any variation from past comments or official policy statements is accorded great weight, whether it should be or not.

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