Alex Lo
SCMP Columnist
My Take
by Alex Lo
My Take
by Alex Lo

Worrying senility at the White House

  • The mainstream liberal press thinks it’s a newfound political virtue for Joe Biden’s disappearing act but his performance at his first presidential press conference last week should give people pause
In what was a first in modern American presidential history, Joe Biden at last gave his first “formal” press conference last week – a full 65 days after taking office.

After the daily in-your-face presidency of Donald Trump, perhaps that was a relief for most Americans. The mainstream press has even praised Biden for not showing up as a new political virtue.

A New York Times columnist explains why “Biden has disappeared”. “For the life of me, I can’t find Joe Biden,” he wrote. “Should we send a search party?

“I’m in no way saying it’s a bad one. If anything, it’s the opposite… The dirtiest word in his revised vocabulary is the first-person singular. This new, self-effacing Biden is an exorcism of Donald Trump.

“Abracadabra: He made himself vanish.”

A Financial Times writer also commented on “the radical unavailability of Joe Biden”.

“The president is calming US politics by not saying very much,” he claimed.

“A less visible president is a less contentious one.”

I can quote a dozen similar commentaries. But after last week’s performance, we now know the real reason. Biden went off on tangents, forgot his talking points, lost his trains of thought.

Commenting on the migrants’ crisis, he repeated twice the previous day’s talking points, including a description of someone “sitting at their kitchen table”.

He tried to explain what the US was doing about it. “And the other thing we’re doing, I might add,” he said, then halted in mid-sentence. “Am I giving you too long of an answer? Because if you don’t want the detail… I don’t know how much detail you want about immigration.”

Looking confused, he concluded: “Maybe I’ll stop there.”

Referring to voter integrity laws sponsored by Republicans, he said: “This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.”

Let’s just say “Jim Crow” refers to anti-black laws in the American south, not birds.

Such gaffes weren’t his first as president.

In February, at a “town hall” meeting, he claimed there were no Covid-19 vaccines until he took office. At a White House event, he forgot the name of his defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, instead referring to the first black Pentagon chief as “the guy who runs that outfit over there”.

Okay, the guy is 78. I lose my train of thought and can’t remember what I was thinking seconds ago. I am only 55. But I am not the most powerful man in the world.