He failed to connect with the people and blew a chance to promote his key agenda items to a myopic media, says Ralph Nader —
No 2812 by fw, January 23, 2022 —
“President Joe Biden broke the record for the longest presidential press conference ever – going nearly two hours fielding question after question. He stood that long to prove his stamina and dispel bigoted charges of ageism. How did he do by his own standards? First, his opening remarks naturally touted the bright spots in the economy and the administration’s efforts to control Covid-19 during his first year in office. However, he missed an important opportunity to connect with the public and focus the tunnel-vision media on the serious legislation he wants to advance.” Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is a longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic, and former presidential candidate.
Below is my slightly abridged repost of Ralph Nader’s slashing commentary on President Biden’s feeble January 19, 2022 press conference. Included are my subheadings and, at the bottom of this repost, a link to an embedded video segment of Democracy Now’s coverage of Biden’s press conference, featuring the participation, by phone, of Ralph Nader.
But first, here is my numbered list of Nader’s twelve critical comments about Biden’s press conference performance, which also appear as subheadings in my repost below.
To read Ralph Nader’s full commentary on his own website, click on the following linked title.
Joe Biden’s missed opportunities in longest presidential press conference ever
President Joe Biden broke the record for the longest presidential press conference ever – going nearly two hours fielding question after question. He stood that long to prove his stamina and dispel bigoted charges of ageism.
1/ He failed to connect with the people and
2/ blew a chance to promote his key agenda items to a myopic media
How did he do by his own standards? First, his opening remarks naturally touted the bright spots in the economy and the administration’s efforts to control Covid-19 during his first year in office. However, he missed an important opportunity to connect with the public and focus the tunnel-vision media on the serious legislation he wants to advance.
3/ He didn’t follow up on his key proposal to reverse Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy
For example, early on Biden proposed reversing some of the tax cuts for giant corporations and the super-wealthy that Trump rammed through Congress in 2017. Biden did not say why it is urgent for Congress to act on this matter or explain that these taxes are necessary not just for fairness, but to pay for the major proposals he has on Capitol Hill. Therefore, the media will not pay attention and assume he has given up.
4/ “Union guy” Biden did not signal to the media that a bill to increase the minimum wages was stuck in the Senate
Calling himself a “union guy” for decades, Biden inexplicably did not give a shout-out for a higher federal minimum wage, now frozen at $7.25 an hour. The House Democrats passed a bill increasing the minimum wage in stages to $15 but the bill is stuck in the Senate and threatened by an anti-worker GOP filibuster. He also could have brought national attention to the House-passed “Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act” that makes it less difficult to form unions. This legislation is also mired in the Senate. The President’s failure to mention these proposals signals to the press that these bills are off the table for this election year. Consequently, reporters don’t write about these important measures.
5/ The president’s feeble portrayal of his Republican enemies was inept
Biden portrayed his Republican enemies in the Senate with weak language, asking thrice whether there was anything the GOP was for. That criticism could have been far more penetrating had he enumerated ten proposals, passed in the House, that the corporate-indentured Republicans in both the House and Senate were against big time. Imagine the impact, for example, of noting the GOP blocking the renewal of $300 or $250 monthly checks to over 65 million children (both liberal and conservative families in need) in a mid-winter pandemic. Why not mention expanding Medicare for the elderly, or rebuilding America in every community—the latter desired by just about every local chamber of commerce, union, and small business? Such concise contrasts by Biden would have sent the cruel duo, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy reeling.
6/ Biden failed to condemn big business for “grabbing and corrupting” assistance for small business
Biden spoke of infrastructure, to be sure, but didn’t highlight the appeal to specific local interests and the overwhelming public support. He should have also warned big business to stop grabbing and corrupting the safety net assistance for deprived small business, under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). He could have referred to the Inspector General’s exposés at the Small Business Administration (SBA), which have gone almost unnoticed.
7/ Biden was silent on law-and-order corporate crooks’ rip-offs of government programs – not surprising given the corrupt practices of his own party
As a long-time corporate Democrat, it was not surprising that Biden did not mention law and order for the corporate crooks that have hugely ripped off government programs, as well as exploiting consumers and workers. But then he doesn’t exactly have the strong support from the Democratic Party or the Democratic National Committee (DNC) down to the state committees whose hands are out 24/7 for corporate campaign contributions.
8/ Reporters failed to question Biden on what he wants, or on corporate domination of government, or on the bloated military budget
Equally disappointing were the reporters’ questions narrowly ranging over a small number of issues – voting rights, the votes in Congress, his declining poll numbers, and Ukraine. The White House Press Corps, as the legendary pioneer Helen Thomas would politely point out, censors itself when it isn’t fearful of its bosses or being sycophantic. There were no questions on what Biden wants. There were no questions on the corporate domination of just about every sector of our government and its political economy. And there were no questions about the bloated, unauditable, draining military budget to which was added $24 billion more than Biden and the Pentagon requested.
9/ Reporters repeatedly failed to ask questions that ordinary citizens would want answered
Consumers are hurt by gouging prices, deceptive practices, and blocked remedies. Many workers have widespread occupational hazards, low pay, and few benefits, yet they are taking more opportunities in a period of temporary labor shortages to form unions among some big-box chains and retailers (Starbucks, Amazon). The White House Press Corps repeatedly fails to ask questions that ordinary people would want answered about their conditions.
10/ Biden signaled his acceptance that only pieces of his proposals were being passed, which weakened his influence with Congress
When Biden signals his acceptance of only pieces of his proposals being passed, he pre-signals defeat and weakens his negotiating leverage in advance. Presidents who appear weak diminish per se their influence with Congress.
11/ On Ukraine, reporters dwelt on war-inciting, history-forgetting questions, not peace-provoking probes
Perhaps the media’s worst performance last Wednesday was their war-inciting, history-forgetting questions about Ukraine – goading a properly cautious Biden. After all, dictator Putin knows how deep Russian memories are of losing about 50 million people from western frontier invasions in World War I and World War II. They know that any Russian leader would oppose NATO, a military alliance against the Soviet Union – bringing weapons and membership to adjacent Ukraine. Nonetheless, the reporters chose war-inciting, not peace-inciting (diplomacy), questions, other than asking about what happened to his campaign promise to end the war in Yemen.
/12 Pity that Biden, his advisers, and the Press Corps will not take Ralph up on his advice that they “need to review their performances” – But what incentive is there for them to change their behavior? change
Biden, his advisers, and the Press Corps need to review their performances to avoid future ditto heading. We need to make them care enough to engage in such introspections.
SEE RELATED VIDEO:
As President Biden marks one year in office, we speak with former four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who says Biden has failed so far to sell his agenda to the American people and bring about the transformative policy he campaigned on — from quelling the pandemic to passing his landmark Build Back Better legislation. He also critiques the U.S. mainstream press for asking “war-inciting questions,” with Nader saying “the self-censorship of the press is overwhelming.”
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