March 26, 2021

Biden Holds News Conference

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“President Joe Biden vowed on Thursday to push China to play by international rules, criticized his Republican opponents and defended his policy to provide shelter to children crossing the U.S. border from Mexico at his first solo news conference since taking office.” Reuters

Watch the news conference here. C-Span

Read our recent coverage of US-China talks, the border surge, and the Senate filibuster. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left is supportive of Biden’s answers, and generally critical of the press for not inquiring about the ongoing pandemic.

Regarding the migrants, “In a remarkable display of compassion unlike any I recall hearing from another US president -- and in striking contrast to his predecessor -- he described the excruciating decision process that would lead a parent to send her child alone on a thousand-mile journey to an unknown fate. ‘What a desperate act to have to take,’ he said. ‘The circumstances must be horrible.’ People leave, he said, because of earthquakes, floods, lack of food, gang violence. He plans, he said, to help address those problems inside Central America, and to make sure the funding for solutions bypasses corrupt governments…

“He [also] called out the hypocrisy of Republicans suddenly concerned about the size of the federal deficit after having expressed no qualms about massive tax cuts that so lavishly have benefited the rich. ‘When the federal budget is saving people's lives, they don't think it's such a good idea,’ he said, ‘when it's feathering the nests of the wealthiest Americans,’ they don't object… Biden's first news conference was not just a startling departure from his predecessor's -- he never insulted anyone, didn't praise himself, and spoke in full, coherent sentences. It was a strong performance by any standard.”
Frida Ghitis, CNN

“As the topic turned to Republican efforts to narrow voting rights around the country, Biden was vehement. ‘What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick,’ he said, citing proposals that would close polls earlier than many people get off work, or prevent voters standing in line from being provided water… Throughout the hour-long news conference, the president himself was relaxed, well-prepared and in command of the intricacies of policy.”
Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

“There was not a single question, meanwhile, about the ongoing pandemic that for the past year has convulsed life as we know it and continues to claim an average of a thousand lives a day. How is this even possible during a once-in-a-century public-health crisis, the combating of which was the central theme of Biden’s campaign and remains the central promise of his Presidency? It’s hard not to see it as anything other than an epic and utterly avoidable press fail… I am, of course, all for asking Biden hard, tough, and pointed questions—the more the better. But Thursday’s press conference reminded me of why I hated these staged events in the first place.”
Susan B. Glasser, New Yorker

There are plenty [of questions to ask]: Is Biden worried about the vaccine rollout stalling at around 2.5 million shots a day in the past couple weeks? How quickly is the pandemic-focused money in the Covid-19 relief package going to be rolled out? Is Biden still confident in his goal of having enough vaccine supply for all adults by the end of May? What work is being done to improve the US’s Covid-19 testing infrastructure? What was up with the public dispute between the National Institutes of Health and AstraZeneca over the latter’s vaccine? What is the US changing to prepare for the possibility of new, dangerous coronavirus variants or future pandemics?…

“These are the kinds of questions that could decide whether Americans get to return to normal anytime soon. Journalists had a unique opportunity to put them to the president. None of them did.”
German Lopez, Vox

From the Right

The right is generally critical of Biden’s answers, particularly regarding the filibuster and the situation at the border.

The right is generally critical of Biden’s answers, particularly regarding the filibuster and the situation at the border.

“Biden argued that the filibuster that he once passionately defended was a relic of the Jim Crow era. He contended that current legislative efforts to reduce voting days ‘makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,’ whatever that means. He argued that the Trump administration’s policies did nothing to deter or slow the flow of migrants across the U.S.–Mexico border, and contended that the increase since his inauguration is coincidental. He insisted, ‘We’re sending back the vast majority of families who are coming,’ when the actual percentage is about 13 percent…

“Biden is his usual garrulous, meandering, cliche-loving 78-year-old self. He’s always going to be convinced he’s saving ‘the soul of America,’ that his critics are so unfair and impatient, that the expectations are so high, and that there’s no gap between what he’s promised and what he’s delivered.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“On Wednesday Sen. Ben Sasse, the Nebraska Republican, did the public service of reading Mr. Biden’s entire hour-long 2005 speech defending the filibuster on the Senate floor…

But on Thursday Mr. Biden toed the new Democratic Party line that the filibuster is being ‘abused in a gigantic way,’ and he pointed to statistics from last year. Readers may recall that in 2020 Democrats were in the minority and used the filibuster to block GOP proposals, including Sen. Tim Scott’s bipartisan police reform. Were Democrats racists then, and was Mr. Biden in 2005?…

“Mr. Biden’s flip-flop tells us that Democrats in Congress are preparing to break the 60-vote filibuster rule, and he’ll go along for the ride as he has on everything since Jan. 20. He’s been less President than Prime Minister of the Pelosi-Schumer government.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Cecilia Vega of ABC News politely nailed him to the wall on a key failure of his border policy… In response to Vega, [Biden] echoed a distortion often made by his Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and said that Trump had dumped children into the Mexican desert. Except Biden made the charge even more lurid by alleging that Trump had let children starve to death. This is a disgraceful and stupid charge. The Trump administration either flew back migrants to their home countries directly or handed them over to Mexican authorities to do the same. No one was pushed into the desert.”
The Editors, National Review

“If there was a silver lining in President Joe Biden’s Thursday press conference, it came in his lengthy discussion of the challenge posed by Communist China… Again and again, he returned to two themes: first, that we face a contest between autocracy and democracy, and second, that ‘we’re not looking for confrontation, although we know there will be steep, steep competition.’…

“Biden claimed to have told Chinese president Xi Jinping that ‘as long as you and your country continues to so blatantly violate human rights, we are going to continue in an unrelenting way to call it to the attention of the world and make it clear, make it clear what’s happening.’ If Biden actually does so, it will be terrific. In the press conference, he mentioned both China’s horrid treatment of the Uyghur minority and its violation of democracy in Hong Kong. Good job.”
Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

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