By Sherman Frederick/Battle Born Media
I have officially run out of enough serenity to accept the things I cannot change about the Joe Biden Administration. This became apparent after watching President Joe Biden’s two hour press conference marking his first tenuous year in office. Mr. Biden should not be unleashed to answer questions off the cuff — ever.
He can say “Let me be clear” all he wants. He can lean into the camera lens and do that weird whisper. He can tell us that what he last said was, in fact, “no joke.” But in the end he is simply clear as mud in that kind of format.
That’s a fact. And it’s scary for America and the world.
Consider three questions on Russia and the Ukraine asked one after another at the press conference. The first from Jen Epstein of Bloomberg, the second from David Sanger of the New York Times and the third from Alex Alper of Reuters. Space prohibits a full recitation of the Q&A, but you can look it up online at WhiteHouse.Gov if you like. Here’s a boiled down version.
Jen Epstein: Given ineffective sanctions against Russia in the past, why should the threat of new sanctions give them pause?
President Biden: He’s never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed. Russia will be held accountable if it invades. And, it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, et cetera.
David Sanger: I wanted to follow up on your answer there about Russia. If Vladimire Putin does invade, would your posture be to really move back to the kind of containment policy that you saw so often when you were still in the Senate?
President Biden: The answer is that I think he still does not want any full-blown war, number one. Number two, do I think he’ll test the West, test the United States and NATO as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will. My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.
Alex Alper: Mr. President, I wanted to follow up briefly. You said that Russia would be “held accountable if it invades” and “it depends on what it does”; “it’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and… we end up having to fight about what to do and what not to do.”
President Biden: Good question. That’s how it did sound like, didn’t it? If it’s a — something significantly short of a significant invasion — or not even significant, just major military forces coming across — for example, it’s one thing to determine that if they continue to use cyber efforts, well, we can respond the same way, with cyber. And I want to be clear with you. I think we will, if there’s something that is — that — where there’s Russian forces crossing the border, killing Ukrainian fighters, et cetera — I think that changes everything. But it depends on what he does.
What in the world is he trying to say? Three questions and three ever cloudy answers. The meandering of the president on this matter sent shock waves throughout NATO and our allies, forcing the White House and the Secretary of State to spend much of the next week explaining what the president really meant.
Does the president himself know what he meant?
That’s the question everyone must be wondering as Joe Biden enters his second year in office.
GIANTS SPRING BASEBALL
I recently received an email reminding me that it’s time to snag my place at the spring training game in March between the San Francisco Giants and the L.A. Dodgers. I’ve been to many-a game at the Giant’s spring training facility in Scottsdale. I think the old-school venue there is absolutely terrific. Much better than the sterile new parks that have sprung up recently.
Then I saw the prices.
Be prepared to spend between $150 to $250 for a nice seat.
If you want a cheap seat, well, stand by to shell out $80 to sit in the grass in the outfield.
ONE MORE THING
— “Your phone message is important to us. Please stay on the line until it’s no longer important to you.”
— The older you get, the uglier you’re willing to go out in public.
— Most people are in the state of life where they use their phone to record good memories. I’m of the age where I use my phone to shoot pictures of labels and then enlarge the picture so I can read them.
Thanks for reading, everybody. Until next week, dear readers, avoid soreheads, laugh a little and always question authority.
Sherman Frederick is a Nevada Hall of Fame journalist and co-founder of Battle Born Media, a news organization dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com.