On March 25th, US President Joe Biden gave his first press conference, a little over two months after stepping into office.
It was an incredibly uninteresting press briefing, in which there were no trick (or any difficult-to-answer) questions – there was no mention of Moscow, or “the killer Putin”, no COVID-19 (as if it didn’t exist).
The lack of trick questions is showing that there was a strict script. And still, Biden had cue cards ready, to remind him of what is what, and what he should be talking about.
This is something former President US Donald Trump was made fun because.
No mention of this, for Joe Biden.
One of the most interesting things he said is that he would likely run for a second term, at his age, adding:
“I respect fate. I have never been able to accurately plan for 3.5-4.5 years ahead.”
There is little to comment here, since a lack of hindsight and foresight is a staple of US policy, both internal and international.
Mostly, in his first press conference since taking office, President Joe Biden responded to numerous questions about a rise in immigration and reports of deplorable conditions at border facilities — issues he mostly blamed on the Trump administration.
Biden also set a new administration goal of administering 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in his first 100 days in office. Biden reached his original goal of administering 100 million doses on his 58th day in office earlier this month.
In his nearly 90-minute long press conference, Biden was not asked any questions about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following are the key topics:
- Immigration – During the press conference, Biden spoke about the situation at the southern border, as there has been a startling increase in the number of unaccompanied migrant children being held by Customs and Border Protection.
Biden also defended his administration’s policies by noting that “tens of thousands” of adults and families had been returned to Mexico. He noted that while some families have been able to enter the U.S. because Mexico would not allow them to be returned, he said that his administration was working with Mexican officials to end that policy.
He added that he does not think the conditions in those facilities are “acceptable,” and said that his administration is working to find ways to quickly process children and release them into the U.S.
He also committed to transparency at the border in allowing reporters to tour facilities housing migrant children — but only after his administration has time to “get things going.” He did not offer a specific timeline.
“I can’t guarantee we can solve everything, but we can make things better,” Biden said.
Promises for change: many. Actually realized: none.
- Filibuster – he said that he supports filibuster reform rather than abolishing the process altogether. He added that he feels the filibuster has been “abused in a giant way” in the last 20-30 years and supports reinstating rules that would require Senators to stand and speak on the Senate floor.
- Voting Rights Laws – Biden called on the Senate to pass the two voting rights bills recent passed by the House, and called Republican efforts at state levels to pass laws restricting voting rights “sick.”
“These bills make Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,” Biden said.
Biden listed the passage of the voting rights bills specifically as one of the bills he planned to prioritize.
- Withdrawal from Afghanistan – Biden added that his administration was discussing ways to safely withdraw troops from Afghanistan with NATO allies and allies in the Middle East.
“We’re leaving, it’s just a question of when,” Biden said.
When asked if the U.S. would have troops in Afghanistan next year, Biden said he found that hard to picture.
- North Korea – Biden was asked how he would respond to North Korea’s recent missile test.
“We’re consulting with our allies and partners. There will be responses if they choose to escalate.”
- China – he didn’t mention any more sanctions on China in relation to their alleged treatment of Uyghurs.
Biden says he told Xi that the U.S. would not be “looking for confrontation” with China, but added there will be “steep competition.” He also said he expected a “level playing field” with China, in that they would play by the rules of international law.
Biden also framed relations with China as the fight between “democracy vs. autocracy.”
“We have to prove democracy works,” he said.
- Next elections in 2024 – Biden was asked by a member of the press corps if he intended to run again in 2024, noting that Trump had already announced his intention to seek re-election by this point in his term.
He said it was his “intention” to run again in 2024, and that if he did he planned to again select Vice President Kamala Harris as a running mate, adding that she’s doing a “great job.”
He also mentioned that he had gone to Senate 120 years ago.
In all, this was an incredibly well-orchestrated press conference, with controlled questions and nothing out of the ordinary. None of the most significant campaign promises he made were questioned and most of them were not even nearly realized.
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