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Biden faces more aggressive, challenging journalists at marathon presses

From the very first question, it was clear on Wednesday that President Biden was facing another press corps in the White House:

"Have you overlooked to the American public what you could accomplish in your first year in office?"

Biden, of course, said no if anything he had surpassed. He had tried to anticipate the critical issues in his introductory remarks, boasting 210 million vaccinated people, more than 6 million new jobs and 3.9% unemployment. He acknowledged the frustrations at COVID and admitted bluntly that he should have ordered home tests earlier, but said they are doing more now.

President Biden gestures during a White House press conference in the White House on January 19, 2022, in Washington.  (Getty Images)

President Biden gestures during a White House press conference in the White House on January 19, 2022, in Washington. (Getty Images)

The bite lasted almost two hours, as if to arrange a marathon to neutralize criticism that he avoids dealing with the press. He was unusually crisp, to him, though he tumbled at times and was largely in control of the facts, as if to defy critics who portray him as messy and confused.

Oddly enough, Biden made another bid for his $ 2 trillion bill, which is at best on life support.

Do not buy

The press did not buy. ABC Reporter Mary Bruce asked, "Do you need to be more realistic and scale down these priorities?" And she followed up by telling Biden that his strategy was not working.

The Democratic president tried to shift the blame onto the GOP, saying he "did not anticipate" that the Republicans would make a "faithful effort ... to ensure President Biden did not get anything done." If so, he was badly out of touch with today's party political realities and failed to listen to Mitch McConnell. At another point, he said of McConnell, "What is he for?"

CBS's Nancy Cordes pressured him: "Now that your legislation seems hopelessly stalled, can you lay out your strategy to protect the rights to vote?"

Biden challenged the premise of a journalist's question about school closures, saying at least 95% of schools remained open.

Many asked more routine questions: "Have not the United States and the West lost all influence over Vladimir Putin?" "Aren't you just limited to what you can do with inflation?"

Soft pedaling

And some questions were clearly softly pedaled. CNN's Jeff Zeleny asked if Biden thought he had done enough to restore public confidence in the government's competence - but did not question the administration's competence.

NBC's Kristen Welker was one of the most aggressive, saying, among other things, "I spoke to a number of black voters who were fighting to get you elected, and they feel you are not fighting hard enough for them."

When Biden decided to continue, he recognized Peter Doocy. The Fox reporter asked, "Why are you trying so hard in your first year to drag the country so far to the left?" Biden said he was not a Bernie, just a mainstream Democrat.

The president rejected a question from Newsmax's James Rosen as to why a Politico poll shows a significant number of voters questioning Biden's mental condition, saying, "I have no idea."

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Meanwhile, while the White House announces a planned "reset", everyone and his brother are considering with analysis and advice on what Biden should do to fix the ship.

This is not a moment in time where the press can be accused of walking lightly on the president. While some journalists focus on the administration's past achievements, almost everyone acknowledges that Biden is in serious political trouble.

Fire the leader?

As with a losing baseball team, there are always calls to fire the manager.

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens says that based on "political incompetence," it is clear that "the president needs a new team, starting with a new chief of staff."

He claims that "Ron Klain is a loyal assistant. But the president needs a chief of staff who is a peer - what James Baker was for George HW Bush or Howard Baker for Ronald Reagan. What is Tom Daschle doing these days?"

President Biden answers questions during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, January 19, 2022 in Washington.

President Biden answers questions during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, January 19, 2022 in Washington. (Getty Images)

But the Twitter-wise Klain is possibly the most politically savvy White House official, given his experience with the Hill and Justice Department and his work for two vice presidents, Biden and Al Gore. I do not know that a former senator who became a lobbyist would be more inclined to wage war in 2022. Although Klain has to share responsibility for the mistakes, his removal is highly unlikely.

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Klain is out there doing some interviews. Asked by the Wall Street Journal about discussions about saving smaller pieces of the Build Back Better behemoth, he said: "One lesson we learned in the first year is, I think, the less we talk about our negotiations with specific senators and members of Congress, We are better, so I would say that our talks with Senator Manchin will continue directly and privately.

Legislative morads

Politico says that the endless Hill meetings "at times made Biden appear as president of the Senate rather than as the nation as a whole, as his administration got stuck in the legislative morass. Republicans, with few exceptions, were eager to play obstructive people. and opinion polls suggest that a nation nervous about inflation also wants Biden to step down. "

President Biden answers questions during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, January 19, 2022, in Washington.  (Getty Images)

President Biden answers questions during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, January 19, 2022, in Washington. (Getty Images)

Every president has an inside and outside game. Biden, the classic Washington creature, allowed himself to be drawn into endless conversations with the Manchin / Sinema team, was whipped by House progressives and came up empty-handed after months of arguing. Instead of declaring victories for what he pushed through in the past, he and his team raised expectations far too high.

But his outside play has mainly consisted of everyday speeches and rather stubborn avoidance of the media. The lack of interviews and the lack of pressors means that the president has essentially turned off the megaphone that only he possesses.

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It's fine for the White House to "reset" spinners to say that Biden will connect more with ordinary Americans. But he also needs to send a compelling message home to the midfielders, and that means using that megaphone instead of waiting almost three months to hold his next press conference. And maybe the next one can get long too.

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