Biden Press Conference Will Be Remembered for Only One Thing
Author: Greg Valliere
January 20, 2022
JOE BIDEN MADE LOTS OF NEWS last night — especially on his new legislative strategy — but Biden’s two-hour press conference will be remembered for his disastrous comments on Russia and Ukraine.
NO PRESIDENT WANTS HIS COMMENTS “clarified” hours after they are made, but Biden’s aides were compelled to clean up his assertion that a modest Russian incursion would be met by only a modest response. That’s probably what Biden thinks, but you don’t broadcast your thinking to the rest of the world on an issue like this.
BIDEN INDISCREETLY PREDICTED: “My guess is (Putin) will move in. He has to do something.” Biden then said: “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion, and then we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera, but if they actually do what they are capable of doing with the force they’ve massed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia.”
BUT HE EQUIVOCATED, asking whether a Russian incursion would be “something significantly short of a significant incursion or not even significant.”
BIDEN’S ADVISERS UNDOUBTEDLY WERE AGHAST. They convened a “not for attribution” call with reporters after the news conference; a senior administration official (probably Jake Sullivan) said whether Russia acquires a small or large portion of Ukrainian territory, it still would be an invasion that would “merit a severe economic response.”
THUS IT APPEARS THAT THREE SUCCESSIVE U.S. PRESIDENTS have been so passive that they actually encouraged Putin: Barack Obama blandly called for a “reset” and imposed ineffective sanctions after Putin annexed Crimea in 2009; Donald Trump was a virtual lap dog for Putin; and now Biden . . . .
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HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR UKRAINE, Biden’s press conference would have been remembered for his pivot on legislation and his ability to give-and-take for two hours. As we reported earlier this week, Biden is now willing to break up chunks of the Build Back Better bill, and there’s good chance that will produce some victories.
WE’RE NOT SURE THIS HOT ECONOMY needs more stimulus, but Biden knows he has the votes to win funding for pre-kindergarten, some expansion of Obamacare, and sweeping environmental programs.
THE NEED TO COME UP WITH NEW TAXES could complicate this process, but Sen. Joe Manchin will accept tax hikes on the very rich, and he’s an outspoken proponent of pre-K spending. Whether Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will agree is unclear, but our hunch is that she will accept agree to several of the BBB components.
BIDEN UNDOUBTEDLY KNOWS Democrats face an election debacle in November, so he will take off the gloves against Republicans. But he’s apparently not prepared to take off the gloves against Putin, which was the main takeaway in what will be viewed as a memorably disastrous press conference.
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