Joe Biden at a Loss for Words During a Softball Question from Child: Well, he makes gaffes frequently in the United States, why not in another country?
President Joe Biden’s four-day Ireland trip back in April designed for him to bond with people and take a victory lap with an adoring audience.
That’s why this communications mishap is so notable. He took a friendly question from a child in a low-pressure situation and made it into one of Biden’s trademark displays of confusion.
Joe Biden: What Did He Do Now?
The bungle happened on April 12 in Dublin.
The White House has, for the most part, refused to conduct regular official news conferences, which rankled the press corps. So, Joe Biden did an impromptu question-and-answer session with children. It should have resulted in a cute and endearing moment, but Biden struggled through the “interview.”
“What’s the top step to success?” a child asked the president. Biden appeared to have misheard the question and asked, “What’s the top what?”
‘What Are We Talking About?’
The child clarified and repeated the question by repeating the word “steps.” Then Biden instead of giving an inspiring answer that would encourage the child, for example to say, “study hard, stay in school, and pursue your passion.” Biden said, “Oh, well, making sure that we don’t all have COVID. What — why — what are we talking about here?” he asked.
Joe Biden was drowning and he needed help fast. That’s when his son Hunter entered the picture and repeated the question in an attempt to throw a lifesaver to the president.
He Can’t Offer Simple Advice
“Oh, what’s the key to success? You know what I found out is the key to success is? And I’m not sure I’m the best guy to explain it; these guys can tell you,” the president replied.
Then he launched into an unlikely answer that explained how to act when you disagree with someone. That was a reply that would hardly inspire young people to be the best they can be.
Perfect Opportunity to Inspire
Biden’s difficulty makes you wonder what is going through his mind.
He is obviously not quick on his feet.
His former boss, President Barack Obama, would have hit this question out of the park, perhaps discussing the need to overcome adversity and create an opportunity that allows an unlikely person to become a hero through grit and perseverance.
It is telling that Hunter had to come to the rescue and it had the usual Biden critics taking to social media and wondering if younger Biden was acting as some sort of press secretary for the president.
Youngsters have been forced to assist Biden in the past. Once a young girl had to help a bewildered and lost president off the stage. She took his hand and guided an unsteady president away from the podium.
After another address, First Lady Jill Biden also had to tell him how to get off stage when he concluded a speech about the Americans with Disabilities Act last year.
During the Ireland episode he promised to give an autograph but forgot to do so.
There was one heartfelt moment when a child asked about the presidential dog. “My dog is doing well. His name is Commander. What’s your doggie’s name?” But a child was crying in the background, and it blocked out his reply. It’s not clear if the answer was heard by the children.
During the Ireland trip, he also mistakenly referred to the All Blacks New Zealand national rugby team as the “Black and Tans” in a gaffe that confused people in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Overall, this encounter is not going to risk any diplomatic incidents that could have jeopardized international relations.
But this is vintage Joe Biden. He doesn’t understand simple questions, he looks clueless, and he says the wrong things. It is a wonder that he has made it this far in his political career. More displays like this and he will have additional people questioning if he can pull off effective leadership in a real crisis – something that would be more serious than innocent questions from children.
Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.