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For all the talk of ‘Sleepy Joe’ or complaints about his not facing the press, on Wednesday President Joe Biden demonstrated to the American people his firm grasp of both domestic and foreign policy issues in what was the longest press conference from a president in recent American history.
Americans saw in their commander-in-chief someone willing to speak earnestly and frankly with the American people, and his command performance Wednesday harkened back to an earlier Biden from the campaign trail: forceful, direct, self-deprecating, and earnest.
It has admittedly been a tough few months for the president and his stalled agenda on Capitol Hill, no thanks to Senate rules which require him to find the support of ten Republicans who are committed to opposing him at every turn.
Yet, the president rightfully highlighted his groundbreaking achievements since taking office one year ago today, including an economy with the lowest unemployment in more than five decades, a booming stock market, and rising wages, salaries, and disposable income for American workers, especially those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
He also contrasted his plans with those of Congressional Republicans by outlining a plan to tackle rising prices and inflation, solving the supply chain crisis, and allowing goods to get to markets quicker, while at the same time promoting robust competition in key corporate sectors.
At multiple points during the press conference, he asked rhetorically where the Republican response or plan was on critical issues, highlighting a burgeoning White House messaging strategy heading into the midterms.
In marked contrast to his immediate predecessor, the president was quite honest with the American people by acknowledging COVID-19 testing failures.
At the same time, President Biden highlighted current efforts to increase the number of public testing sites, the administration’s new direct mail testing effort, and his commitment to keeping schools open and kids safe.
Much hand-wringing will likely occur in Washington about the president’s frank-talk on Vladimir Putin’s aggression toward Ukraine; but this is yet another example of the president leveling with the American people.
For far too long, leaders of both sides of the aisle have focused on redlines and veiled threats in foreign policy, while ignoring the reality that hostile actors are going to do what they think in their best interests. And we must do what is in ours.
President Biden committed to supporting our Ukrainian partners, while acknowledging that NATO is divided on what the proper response would be. He was honest about the realities facing Russia and Ukraine as they mobilize on its borders.
Yet, the president also committed to increasing troop levels in Poland and Romania should Putin take those steps into Ukraine, and highlighted the devastating economic consequences that would also be unleashed on Moscow.
We have a solemn obligation to protect our interests and those of our NATO partners under Article Five of our treaty. Ukraine, however, is not a member of NATO and Putin is clearly testing how far the West will tolerate his hostile actions both on the ground and in the digital space.
With a year under his belt, and 292 days until the midterm elections, the American people are well served by a president who tells them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.
With a host of accomplishments to spotlight, President Biden should continue to take the case directly to the American people in the months and weeks to come as he indicated in his remarks today.
As he said on Wednesday, he’ll welcome that debate in contrast to the ‘just-say-no’ Republican obstructionists in Congress.
I welcome it, too.
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