Biden & S.O.B.-Gate: A Theory

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President Joe Biden holds a formal news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., January 19, 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Phil and Rich have their own theories as to what Biden thought he was doing — if he thought at all — by calling Peter Doocy of Fox News an S.O.B. Certainly, Biden has been known to lash out at the media before by sneering about how much smarter he is than they:

There have been many revealing aspects to this whole spectacle. We have media voices who were crying and shaking when Trump went after reporters showing their conspicuous lack of sympathy to Doocy. There are two related reasons why the media doesn’t get its hair on fire when a Democrat does this: Democratic presidents are typically just picking on the one reporter in the room who isn’t on their side. So, it is expected to stop with Doocy, and not extend to the rest of the press, whereas Trump was engaged in this kind of feud with all but a small number of pro-Trump voices accredited to cover his White House. Recall the dynamic when Barack Obama went after Fox News in 2009, although at least then, the press corps had enough self-respect to criticize Obama for this. The second and related problem, which reflects how things have changed since 2009, is that the White House press corps simply does not see Doocy as a member of the club. A threat to him is not a threat to them; it is a reinforcement of their position, which his presence undermines.

Even more revealing, in its own way, is Biden’s “it’s nothing personal, pal” semi-apology to Doocy. This is of a piece with how Biden’s “part of the process” response when supporters of his agenda chased Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom, or his mockery of Mitt Romney for taking offense at his “back in chains” remark. Biden really does think it’s nothing personal; this is just how politics is, and you don’t have to mean things to say them, even if they smear or insult other people or incite your supporters to confront them. The only time Biden got genuinely upset at something done by his own side was when the Obama campaign ran an ad attacking John McCain’s facility with technological devices — Biden called it “terrible” — and the campaign withdrew it after it was pointed out that they were effectively mocking McCain for having war injuries that made it hard for him to type on a Blackberry. Why did Biden care that time? Because McCain was a Senate colleague, and the people he served with in the Senate were in the club. In a similar vein, Biden has never seen the problem with cozying up to segregationists who were his Senate colleagues; they were in the club, so whatever he might say about others who had the same ideas never applied to them.





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