By any measure, Friday, September 17, 2021, will go down in the books as one of the worst days of Joe Biden’s presidency. (At least so far, anyway.) How bad was it? Bad enough that even Jonathan Lemire
and Zeke Miller of the Associated Press felt compelled to tally up the damage for all of us. And in reality, it wasn’t even just “a bad day.” It took barely an hour for all of the bad news to rain down on Uncle Joe’s head in what the AP reporters termed “one stunning afternoon.” The news is framed as a series of “setbacks” that may “imperil Biden’s reset.” Let’s take a look at a few of the details, though we’ve already mentioned several aspects of these stories here.
It was an hour President Joe Biden would no doubt like to forget.
On Friday, the Pentagon acknowledged that a drone strike in Afghanistan killed 10 civilians, including seven children, not terrorists. A panel advising the Food and Drug Administration voted to not recommend COVID booster shots for all Americans over 16, dashing an administration hope. And France announced it was recalling its ambassador to the U.S. out of anger for being cut out of a secret nuclear submarine deal Biden had struck with the United Kingdom and Australia.
Each of the three headlines they’re talking about would qualify as “bad news” for any administration. The stunning part is how quickly they unfolded, one after another. Cable news network anchors could barely keep up, though many of them bravely tried to paint a brighter picture for the White House. Two of the stories had been percolating for a while, but one of them took everyone completely by surprise.
The news about the drone strike had been out there for weeks, though initially, the administration had claimed that we had taken out some ISIS-K terrorists. Suspicions had grown this week amid allegations on the ground that the dead were actually innocent civilians, most of whom were children. But the Pentagon admitted to it on Friday afternoon, setting off a flurry of explanations and apologies.
They barely had time to trot out a spokesperson to talk about the drone strike, however, when the news broke about the FDA voting against nearly all of the booster shots that Biden had previously declared would begin making the rounds by Monday. A delay in the next phase of the vaccination campaign wouldn’t have been big news were it not for the “Follow the Science” team at the White House having gotten out in front of the actual science.
And then the bombshell about the secret deal to provide Australia with nuclear submarines resulted in France yanking their ambassadors from both the United States and Australia. By that point, rumor has it that Jen Psaki had to buy a new pair of running shoes after that many mad dashes from her office to the podium in the press briefing room in such a short period of time.
This might not have been nearly as interesting of a story, however, were it not for the way the Associated Press chose to frame it. The article linked above initially summarizes the three pieces of horrible Biden headlines by saying, “The punishing headlines, all within an hour, underscored the perils for any president from the uncontrollable events that can define a term in office.”
I’m sorry… did you really just describe these as “uncontrollable events” that can define a presidency? When it comes to the drone strike, I will certainly grant you that the fog of war can lead to bad outcomes at times. But still, someone in the chain of command gave the green light to send that Predator in and they will have to own up to the consequences.
As to the other two headlines, describing them as “uncontrollable events” is preposterous malarkey. That backfire on the boosters took place for one reason and one reason only. Biden must have known that the FDA hadn’t even held their meeting on the question of boosters when he put out his September 20th deadline to begin distributing them weeks in advance. All he had to do was practice what he preaches and wait for the scientists to announce their findings. That was an own-goal of epic proportions, not an “uncontrollable event.”
And as I already wrote about this morning, the submarine deal with Australia leading to the French blowing a gasket was entirely the result of crappy diplomacy at the White House. France was left in the dark while Biden’s team was negotiating a deal that they knew would cost France nearly $100 billion. Of course they were infuriated. But if they had been brought in on the negotiations and a new economic project had been found to cut their losses, they would have gone along with the plan just like they always do with their allies. That was 100% Joe Biden’s fault and not “uncontrollable” in any way.
The AP reporters flatly admit that Biden’s aides had in recent days “quietly expressed relief that the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal … has receded from headlines.” They also note that Biden was trying to “pivot” away from the Afghanistan story and engage in some sort of media “reset.” The first part of that isn’t entirely true because the botched withdrawal is still generating bad news. But they are correct in the fact that the Democrats’ loyal stenographers in much of the MSM had been doing their best to ignore those headlines. But while the desire to “pivot” was obvious, this confluence of events is making it very challenging. And I get the feeling that both the White House and Biden’s friends in the press corps aren’t going to have an easy time trying to blame all of this on Trump.