October 2, 2022

JON GABRIEL: A lot of folks are running the White House. Joe Biden just isn’t one of them.

To understand what’s happening, it’s best not to think of this as a Biden Presidency, but a Biden Regency.

The term was regularly used in the age of kings and empires. If an 8-year-old princess was placed on the throne or an incapable king couldn’t perform his duties, one or several regents would handle the day-to-day operations.

Many a royal adviser would ignore a capable successor, instead crowning a child so the courtiers could run things behind the scenes.

One regency served during the reign of King George III, most famous for losing the Revolutionary War. After several concerning incidents, his mental health collapsed. George remained king on paper, but the Parliament appointed his heir as Prince Regent.

The dissolute prince decided he would rather party than rule, so he happily let the advisers run the show. The regency ran the empire for the next decade.

Whoever’s running things, they aren’t doing it well

In like manner, Biden is surrounded with longtime D.C. power players, such as Ron Klain, Susan Rice, Anita Dunn, John Podesta, Gene Sperling – a veritable “who’s who” of Beltway knife fights and insider skullduggery. Throughout their long careers, they’ve never sought credit or voter approval. Just power.

And the less Joe is around, the more their regency can accomplish.

Or perhaps not. As Matthew Continetti asked in July: 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.

Related: The ‘cabal’ that bragged of foisting Joe Biden on us must answer for his failed presidency.

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