QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED: Do Biden’s words even matter anymore?

On the subject of Taiwan and China, Biden once again stated that Taiwan would be defended militarily should mainland China stage an invasion to reclaim the island. Before the show was even over, the White House had put out a statement saying that America’s One China policy remains unchanged.

Yet most telling was when Pelley accompanied Biden to the Detroit Auto Show, and he took note that the convention was going on without masks or social distancing or vaccine mandates. Pelley asked Biden very directly, “Is the pandemic over?” “The pandemic is over,” Biden responded. “We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over.” This wasn’t a gaffe. This wasn’t a slip-up. He reiterated it again in his response.

This left the White House in yet another bind on issues from student loan forgiveness to immigration restrictions to vaccine mandates, all of which to one degree or another are premised on the idea that we’re in a pandemic. Biden’s words could jeopardize legal cases his administration might be preparing. His usual media defenders, like the Washington Post and NPR, sprang into action to spin Biden’s own words. Politico and CNN were given statements that in fact the pandemic is not over.

Biden’s own staffers are undermining the nominal president’s statement: White House cleans up Biden’s ‘very consistent’ claim pandemic is ‘over.’ “Biden’s press secretary said Wednesday that the president was speaking about public sentiment, not the state of emergency, during a headline-grabbing 60 Minutes interview that appeared to throw into disarray his administration’s agenda. ‘Just to step back for a second, when he made those comments, he was walking through the Detroit car show, the halls of the Detroit car show, he was looking around. We have to remember the last time that they had held that event was three years ago,’ Karine Jean-Pierre said during an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday. ‘We are in a different time. He’s been very consistent about that.’”

As Dan McLaughlin wrote in July, “Biden could put a stop to the public walkbacks immediately by firing one or more people for publicly contradicting him. There are two overlapping reasons why he hasn’t done that: He isn’t willing to stand up to his own staff, and at some level, he grasps that they keep walking back things that he should never have said in the first place. If you have spent much time around elderly men with declining faculties, you will recognize the all-too-common pattern of lashing out because they need help for things they could once do themselves, rather than being thankful for the help.”