According to a report from NBC News, the White House is planning a new communications strategy in the hope of boosting Joe Biden’s tanking approval ratings. Senior administration officials say that this reset plan is “is to make his conversations with members of Congress less of a public priority and to emphasize spending more time communicating directly with Americans.”
The White House will, the officials say, continue to negotiate with Congress about Biden’s legislative priorities, but the details of those talks won’t be released to the public.
So, apparently, this strategy involves less transparency and having Biden speak more to the public.
Does this seem like a backward strategy to anyone else? First of all, there’s a reason why Biden’s handlers have kept him out of the spotlight as much as possible.
Biden’s advisers are reportedly looking at “a variety of ways for him to engage more with Americans,” but there is no agreement yet about what that means. His advisers agreed Biden needs to “talk to more people directly,” though. However, there is no agreement about whether this strategy will work.
Spoiler alert: it won’t. Biden communicating with people more directly hasn’t exactly worked when they’ve tried it. There’s a reason Biden was kept in his basement for most of the 2020 campaign. There’s a reason he’s spent a quarter of his presidency on vacation. Biden doesn’t exactly communicate well. They know this.
Heck, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted that the White House doesn’t like Joe Biden taking questions. “That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions’… But he’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the president of the United States,” Psaki told former Obama adviser David Axelrod on his podcast last May.
Biden has similarly made several comments indicating that he’s “not supposed to be” talking with the media. Last April, he bailed on a briefing early after only taking three questions; he said he had to because “I’m really going to be in trouble.” In February, he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during a townhall that he would “get in trouble” if he spent too much time answering questions.
But something tells me that talking to the public informally and answering questions is not the strategy being considered. It seems likely that by talking more directly, they mean more scripted public addresses, like prerecorded speeches from his fake White House set. Does anyone really think Biden will be giving speeches around the country to sell his plan, or take unscripted questions?
But none of that matters. Biden’s problem has nothing to do with how he’s communicating. The media is carrying the water for him as much as they can. The problem is Biden has failed to live up to what he promised to be. He promised competence and unity. We got neither. From the moment he took office, he’s divided our country and proven himself incapable (or unwilling) to solve the nation’s problems. Instead of doing something about the border crisis, he denies that it’s happening. Instead of doing something about inflation and the supply chain crisis, he pretends they aren’t really problems. He blames OPEC for high gas prices even though he’s the one who axed the Keystone XL pipeline and suspended new oil and gas drilling permits. He’s the one who promised to “shut down the virus” and then utterly failed to do so. No amount of “communication” will change the fact that he’s never owned up to failures.
People don’t need speeches full of empty promises, platitudes, and finger-pointing at Republicans. They need leadership. Real leadership.
And Biden hasn’t provided it. If he wants to fix his poll numbers, he needs to listen to Americans, not patronize them.