An increasing number of lower-level White House aides appear to believe that the current White House is a hot mess — albeit a well-scripted one.
The problem, they told CNN, is that the administration is stuck in the past, when presidents could inspire a whole nation through just a simple scripted speech.
“Biden did more traveling around the country during May than in any month of his presidency so far. But nearly every stop was the same toe-touch, take-a-factory-tour-then-give-a-speech-then-back-on-Air Force One routine. … Nothing happened that wasn’t on script. Nothing that’s not fully planned,” CNN reported Thursday.
These days, inspiring a nation requires posting tweets, uploading videos, conducting interviews with non-establishment journalists, etc. But the administration’s top members, including the president, don’t seem to be interested.
The Biden Administration is all scripted. She reads from a notebook. He reads from a teleprompter.
— Michelle (@Michele114) June 3, 2022
“The President is a 79-year-old man who still thinks in terms of newspaper front pages and primetime TV programs, surrounded by not-quite-as-senior aides in senior positions with the same late 1990s media diet. Lifelong habits don’t tend to fade when people get to their desks in the West Wing,” according to CNN.
“After 50 years of looking up to the Oval Office, televised speeches and front-page stories are how he thinks of a president making news, still conceiving of the presidency as a sort of Rooseveltian ideal where he can lay what’s happening for an audience gathered around to hear from a commander-in-chief whose schedule keeps getting cleared for him to write, edit and review each set of remarks.”
The administration’s idea of an inspiring event is to send the president to a small town to deliver a speech that nobody but a few local outlets cover.
“You are thinking, why are we doing this?” one frustrated aide said to CNN.
For nothing, apparently, because the president’s poll numbers continue to sink.
The spread on Biden’s job approval has hit a new high of -14.9 in the RCP Average. He’s at 40.0% approval, 54.9% disapproval. Biden’s all-time low approval rating was 39.8% on Feb 9. https://t.co/Qq6Vf51qST pic.twitter.com/BTEfo4TiNd
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) June 2, 2022
A large part of the problem is the age difference.
“[T]here’s a divide between most of the White House staff and the inner circle who have been around Biden for longer than most of the rest of that staff has been alive,” according to CNN.
In other words, the president’s most trusted advisers are all senior citizens like him.
“Older aides dismiss the younger aides as being too caught up in the tweet-by-tweet thinking they say lost the 2020 election for everyone else. Younger aides give up — what’s the point of working up innovative ideas, they ask themselves, if the ideas constantly get knocked down and the aides get looked down on for suggesting them?” CNN notes.
In January, chief of staff Ron Klain reportedly tried compromising by offering to have the president participate in one unscripted town hall per month. But like everything else, this idea wound up falling by the wayside.
“[It] got sucked into the maw of blaming and dysfunction like so much else: Some aides embraced the idea for at least shaking things up a little, some mocked it for being an outdated idea, some complained that the logistics of making that happen would be impossibly time consuming. In the end, not a single town hall was scheduled,” according to CNN.
“BRUTAL: A CNN panel describes how the disarray in the Biden White House is so bad the administration can’t even schedule a town hall.
“Same internal meeting over and over…and then each time [staffers] watched as nothing changes.” pic.twitter.com/aIFxitEm3g”
— Republican Women of Mercer County 💪🇺🇸 (@RWOMC) June 3, 2022
Aides say what’s needed most from the president is action.
“The most effective way Biden aides found to convince people the President isn’t the doddering right-wing media caricature is when people see him in action, they’ll say in meetings and emails and memos. And the best way to convince voters that he’s taking action on a list of complaints, which is growing longer almost by the week, is to show him actually doing things,” according to CNN.
“Those little moments which have always been his magic, the retail politics virtuosity of finding the humanity in almost anyone he talks to and having them find the humanity in him — that’s what they need more of, they say. And anyway, that’s what makes him the happiest.”
But instead of embracing this strategy, the president remains fixated on doing things the old way.
“Biden keeps showing up behind the same podiums surrounded by the same big screens, talking from a remove about what he feels and what he wants to do about it. He’s coming across disconnected, aides have acknowledged to allies in Congress and beyond. And then, they say, the same events keep getting planned,” CNN notes.
Remarking on the president’s boring behavior, someone “familiar with White House operations after one of the recent events” said sarcastically, “World’s most interactive man, and we’re going to have him conduct the presidency from the set of Jeopardy.”
Biden uses fake White House set, again; former Trump official offers explanation https://t.co/BOSdwk1Uok 😂🤣😂
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) October 7, 2021
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