Biden’s Nantucket press gaggle about Omicron variant gets testy: ‘That’s ridiculous’

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Just a day after President Joe Biden dubiously claimed that “America is back,” he announced a new travel ban in response to the emergence in South Africa of the reportedly highly transmittable “omicron” variant of the coronavirus.

Set to take effect on Monday, the ban will bar incoming traffic — except for returning U.S. citizens — from South Africa, in addition to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

After announcing the travel ban for a total of eight countries (South Africa plus seven), the president briefly spoke with members of the press during an informal gaggle in Nantucket, where he’s currently vacationing, but he offered few substantive answers and mostly mistaken ones.

“I’ve decided that we’re going to be cautious — make sure there is no travel to and from South Africa and six other countries in that region and — except for American citizens who are able to come back,” he initially said, getting the country count wrong.

“But we don’t know a lot about the variant except that it is of great concern; it seems to spread rapidly. And we’re — I spent about a half-hour this morning with my COVID team, led by Dr. Fauci. And so that was the decision we made,” he added.

A reporter then asked the president for his response to the markets dropping “significantly” in response to the new variant.

“Expected. They always do when there’s something — when COVID arises,” Biden replied.

“But does it worry you at all?” the reporter pressed.

“Not at all,” the president once again indifferently replied.

“Why not?” the reporter asked.

“Because why would it?” the president doubled down.

Apparently, he’s not familiar with 401ks, which are the backbone of most Americans’ retirement accounts.

Moving on to the next question, the reporter then asked why he isn’t implementing an immediate travel ban “like other countries have done.”

“Well, because that was the recommendation coming from my medical team,” the president replied, once again deferring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose analysis and decision-making amid the pandemic has been highly criticized.

The reporter then asked for the president’s response to the theory that travel bans “create an incentive for countries not to come forward with new variants if you’re penalized for doing so.”

“I’d say that’s ridiculous, because you can’t hide the variants. It’s not like someone could hide the fact that there’s a new variant with people getting sick more quickly,” the president replied.

Former President Donald Trump would have likely agreed. Of course, when he implemented his travel ban in early 2020, the current president was quick to cry foul:

The reporter then asked the president what he expects from the American people.

“Here’s the deal: Every American who has not been vaccinated should be responsible and be vaccinated, from age five years and up — number one. Number two, everyone eligible for the booster shot should get the booster shot immediately upon being eligible. That is the minimum that everyone should be doing,” the president replied.

“And I — you know, we always talk about whether this is about freedom, but I think it’s a patriotic responsibility to do that,” he added.

He’s used the same talking point to promote mask-wearing, despite his own record of violating mask mandates:

The reporter then moved on to the elephant in the room: inflation.

“Mr. President, have you asked the Fed to singularly focus on inflation, sir, especially with the new appointments?” the reporter asked.

“I’ve talked to the Fed about a whole range of things, from monetary policy to inflation. And I have confidence that the appointees that I’ve made — and I’m going to have — (coughs) — excuse me — three more — are going to reflect that — that concern,” the president replied.

Next, the reporter asked about Ukraine, which has been claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been plotting a coup within its borders.

“Are you worried about the situation in the Ukraine and the talk of a — of a possible coup?” the reporter asked.

“I am concerned. Look, we support Ukraine’s territorial integrity. We support Ukraine’s ability to govern itself. And we object to anything remotely approaching what’s been talked (inaudible),” the president replied.

Yet thus far he’s done nothing to stop what’s happening.

The gaggle concluded with a reporter asking whether the president intends to institute any additional mandates.

“No, not at the moment,” the president replied.

The travel ban and subsequent gaggle came a day after the president dubiously claimed “America is back,” despite every aspect of American life — particularly inflation and gas prices — being worse now than it was during Trump’s tenure in office.

Vivek Saxena


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