- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2023

You might be tempted to dismiss President Biden’s latest press mishap as just another desperation story in the dog days of summer. But the story is actually a perfect encapsulation of his presidency.

Reporters gathered outside his palatial beach house in Delaware to ask Mr. Biden if he had anything to say about the rising death toll from wildfires in Hawaii. At deadline, 96 people are dead.

Staring somewhat blankly, Mr. Biden responded: “No. No comment.”

Then he grinned and climbed into the back seat of his Secret Service Suburban.

It is entirely possible that Mr. Biden did not hear the question or did not understand the question.

Certainly, no president would intend to so cavalierly dismiss the desperate suffering of so many Americans in such a major catastrophe. And then add a smile for a cruel exclamation point.

(The White House press office later issued a statement claiming that the president was actually mourning with the people of Hawaii — despite all appearances.)

Let’s not forget that the presidency of George W. Bush effectively ended in August 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when Mr. Bush was perceived to dismiss the suffering of so many Americans.

The picture of him looking out the window of Air Force One at the devastation below became a symbol of his supposed indifference.

This was, of course, entirely unfair — a figment of the dishonest media still angry that Mr. Bush had won reelection the previous year.

The truth was that the Bush administration had done all it could under the circumstances, and Mr. Bush opted against landing in New Orleans because he did not want his arrival to interfere with rescue and survival operations.

Mr. Bush was guilty only of putting his concern for actual victims ahead of a symbolic “photo op” for himself. For that, the leftist media crucified him.

So, Mr. Biden’s August indifference is not without precedence in politics.

And again, to be fair, it is entirely possible that Mr. Biden did not hear or comprehend the question. But that is precisely the point.

The press had to distort and rip out of context the picture of Mr. Bush in order to blame him for Hurricane Katrina. The most devastating way to read the situation with Mr. Biden today is to actually put it into proper context and consider it fairly.

Mr. Biden never seems to have any idea what anybody is talking about. 

Just last week, he was asked by a meteorologist how to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the country. Mr. Biden replied that he wanted to replace all the lead pipes in America, presumably to make our country more hospitable to the migrants streaming across the border illegally.

Or perhaps Mr. Biden did not want to answer the question about the rising death toll in Hawaii simply because he did not have an answer since he had not consulted his White House press department on what he should say.

This leads to an even larger, graver question: Who the hell is running the country? If Mr. Biden cannot respond to a simple question about the death of 96 people without being told what to say, then who is doing the thinking inside the White House?

The whole reason we have a “president” and hold elections is so that voters know who is doing the thinking inside the White House.

Then there are all the other optics involved in Mr. Biden’s casual “no comment” dismissal.

It comes as Mr. Biden concludes a 10-day beach vacation — a reminder that Mr. Biden has spent nearly 40% of his presidency on vacation. As Mr. Biden brushed away the questions and smiled, he was dressed casually in a golf shirt and black baseball cap.

At least he wasn’t wearing his ridiculous aviator glasses.

Such brazen laziness is never a good look for any president at any time. But it is particularly galling considering how many Americans are struggling to take just one week of vacation thanks to “Bidenomics” while their president takes months and months of vacation.

Putting the whole scene into further context, Mr. Biden was outside his $3 million beach house — not to be confused with his million-dollar mansion in an exclusive suburb of Wilmington. These are the kinds of homes normally bought up by titans of Wall Street, not lifelong politicians surviving on a government paycheck and a teacher’s salary.

But this is our country under Bidenomics.

You toil away as the bills pile up while President Biden lounges at the beach, laughing off the death and misery of regular Americans.

• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at The Washington Times.

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