Biden’s Costly Gaffes

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President Joe Biden went to Europe to show the resolve of the United States in our support of Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and our determination to stand by our NATO allies. It’s not clear he managed that, but he certainly managed other things.

Three major misspeaks Biden made increased the tensions between Ukraine and Russia and between NATO and Russia and between the United States and our NATO allies. I don’t recall in which order the gaffes were made, but they were momentous and potentially de-stabilizing at a time when stabilization is what the world needs. I’ll just take them in the order of importance, as I see their importance.

The first was Biden’s response to a question about Putin and Russia using chemical weapons in Ukraine. Biden told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels that, if Russia employed chemical weapons in Ukraine, “It would trigger a response in-kind.” To respond “in-kind” generally means in like manner. It’s reasonable to presume, then, that Biden meant that if Russia used chemical weapons in Ukraine the U.S. would use chemical weapons in Russia. Wow! U.S. News & World Report came to Biden’s rescue, writing, “It was not immediately clear what Biden meant by ‘in-kind,’ though it seems virtually certain he was not suggesting further use of chemical weapons – an act that would violate international law and would not be in keeping with the Biden administration’s foreign policy approach. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.” Golly, I hope Vladimir Putin reads U. S. News & World Report to get an accurate portrayal of Biden’s remark. Apparently, he’s not going to get one from Biden himself.

In a second gaffe, Biden was speaking to the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Poland when he spoke of what they would encounter when they entered Ukraine. “You’re going to see when you’re there, and some of you have been there, you’re gonna see — you’re gonna see women, young people standing in the middle in front of a damned tank just saying, ‘I’m not leaving, I’m holding my ground,’” Biden said. Naturally, the statement suggested that U.S. troops would eventually be entering Ukraine. Biden’s staff was quick to walk the statement back, insisting that the President had numerous times stated that the U.S. would not be putting boots on the ground in Ukraine and that that policy had not changed. Well, I’m sure Putin is relieved by Biden’s staff’s clarification, even if he’s not so convinced.

Finally, in likely the worst gaffe of them, while giving a speech at a former castle in Warsaw to a crowd that included Ukrainian refugees, Biden went off-script and said, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” “This man,” of course, is Putin. Biden’s remark suggested that the U.S. had adopted a new policy of regime change in Russia. Again, the White House staff was put in a position of walking back Biden’s statement. A White House official said, “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else. As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia — or anywhere else, for that matter.” Biden later explained that his remarks were inspired by “moral outrage.” Oh. Okay. That’s what he meant.  

The consequences of these misstatements could be devastating. In the case of “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” the potential consequences include sabotaging negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to reach a peace deal. If Putin interprets Biden’s remarks as direct threats, he may be less inclined to reach a deal, brokering for more, if only to put Biden in his place. The potential consequences are so significant that Biden’s remarks inspired an unusual rebuke from French President Emmanuel Macron, who warned against an escalation “in words and action.”

President Biden’s staff is often put in a position of having to cover for their boss. Their boss, who is supposed to be the leader of the free world, too often misstates things. I don’t know if these misstatements are calculated by Biden (contrary to the directions and advice given him by his staff and administration officials), or if he’s just a buffoon who has no business speaking off-script, or speaking at all, given his propensity to speak off-script. His regular gaffes, exaggerations, and out-right falsehoods reveal a man who is either trying and failing to cleverly manipulate his opponents or a man who is unqualified for elected office, especially the presidency. Biden’s staff having to so often correct his misstatements or walk back what he says surely suggests the question: Who’s in charge here? The President’s trip to Europe, especially shortly after the waste of time V-P Harris’ trip to Europe proved to be, does not raise confidence in the leadership of the United States in these dangerous times.

One writer has described Biden’s presidency as a “dumpster fire,” and the gaffe about removing Putin a perfect symbol of it all. I agree. I have no idea what the next almost three years are going to look like but, based on the last year, it ain’t gonna be good. God help us all. And I mean that as a prayer, not an exhortation.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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