White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that President Biden was not made aware that the FBI planned to searchformer president Donald Trump’s personal residence at Mar-a-Lago before the action was carried out on Monday.
“What I can tell you definitively and for sure, he was not aware of this,” Jean-Pierre said of Biden. “Nobody at the White House was. Nobody was given a heads up and we did not know about what happened yesterday.”
There’s a possibility this is actually true, given how undisciplined this White House has been. As Matthew Continetti asked last month: Who’s In Charge?
If all the White House has to offer is excuses, if decisions are made either slowly or randomly, if the communications team and the president and vice president seem to live on different planets, if incompetence and mismanagement appear throughout the government, it is because the chief executive allows it. No conspiracy is required to explain the ineptitude. This is Joe Biden we are talking about. Lately, though, I have been having second thoughts. Not that Barack Obama or Ron Klain or Dr. Jill are running the show in secret. What I have been wondering, instead, is whether anyone is leading the government at all. There is no power, either overt or covert, in or behind the throne. The throne is empty.
Think of the economy, the border, and Ukraine. From time to time, Biden addresses these issues. He may even answer questions about them. The White House sends out press releases describing its latest initiatives. Vice President Harris or the second gentleman pops up somewhere to talk about all the good she and he are doing.
Yet each of these elements—the president, his staff, his spokesperson, his vice president, his policy—comes across as disconnected, discombobulated, as if each inhabits a separate sphere of activity. Whether because of Biden’s age, or his weekend trips to Delaware, or years of remote work, or lower-level staff turnover, or a painstakingly slow decision-making process, or ideological stubbornness, or a lack of a strategic plan, this administration drifts from crisis to crisis, and from one bad headline to the next. And nothing improves.
The raid on Mar-a-Lago certainly helped to get a lot of bad headlines for Biden out of the press, by putting Trump front and center in the media again, which the administration is thrilled about. It will likely dominate the Sunday talk shows, getting Team Brandon past yet another disastrous news cycle.