President Biden insisted in a Wednesday press conference he would make zero changes after Tuesday’s midterm elections failed to produce a Republican red wave. And during said presser, nine White House reporters took their shot at Biden, with some engaging in silly softballs on the fate of his legacy, Donald Trump, affirmative action, and ridding the country of partisanship.
CBS’s Nancy Cordes had a slew of questions, including her gripe that Republicans wouldn’t allow Biden’s agenda to progress: “[W]hen you were Vice President, your legislative agenda basically ran into a brick wall two years in when Republicans took control of the House, and that lasted for the rest of the Obama presidency. Is there any way for you to prevent that same fate from happening this time around if Republicans take control of the House?”
Cordes also fretted about the likelihood that the GOP would dare to use subpoena power to investigate Afghanistan, the border crisis, and Hunter Biden:
Republicans have made it clear that if they do take control of the House, that they want to launch a raft of investigations on day one into your handling of Afghanistan, the border. They want to look into some of your Cabinet officials. They want to investigate you. They may even want to investigate your son. What’s your message to Republicans who are considering investigating your family and, particularly, your son Hunter’s business dealings?
Biden smirked that he wished them luck as “the American public want us to move on and get things done for them”.
CNN is a frequent offender during these proceedings, but it was a disappointment to see senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly on this list as he, unfortunately, used his time to fixate on Donald Trump.
Mattingly first touched on the upcoming G-20 summit and wondered “how” other “world leaders...view this moment both for America and for your presidency” given the midterms result and the expected launch of Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign on Tuesday.
Mattingly dug deeper with a softball about whether Biden believes “the fever has broken” on the lack of civility and decency in politics:
[Y]ou noted that you felt like there was a shift in terms of people being willing to show more decency in this moment. You’ve often talked about breaking the fever or kind of a transition from this moment that we faced over the last several years. Do you feel like the election is what represents that? Do you feel like the fever has broken, I guess?
Mattingly had one more Trump query on how he’ll assure foreign allies that the Make America Great Again movement won’t return to power (click “expand”):
MATTINGLY: So the entire genesis of that G7 conversation was tied to your predecessor, who is about to launch another campaign. So how do you reassure them, if that is the reason for their questioning, that the former President will not return or that his political movement, which is still very strong, will not —
BIDEN: Oh, yeah?
MATTINGLY: — once again take power in the United States?
BIDEN: Well, we just have to demonstrate that he will not take power by — if we — if he does run. I’m making sure he, under legitimate efforts of our Constitution, does not become the next President again.
While Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich was ignored, CNN political analyst and frequent carnival barker April Ryan of theGrio received ample attention.
First up, Ryan lamented the Supreme Court appearing poised to roll back or eliminate affirmative action to the point that schools could be resegregated (click “expand”):
RYAN: As you know, the Supreme Court has before it the issue of college admissions and affirmative action. What can and are you planning in case of a rollback that is expected? There are legal analysts that say that there will be drastic implications, there are tentacles from this, and they even say that this can impact Brown v. Board — the decision from Brown v. Board.
BIDEN: Well, you know, first of all, I asked our Justice Department to defend the present policy before the Supreme Court. And like a lot of pundits, I’m not prepared to believe that the Supreme Court is going to overrule the pre- — the existing decision. That’s far from certain. And I don’t be — I don’t believe that. But number one — so, number one, what I did to try to change it is object to it before the Supreme Court of the United States — our administration. Number two, I — there are a number of things that we can and must do to make it — and, by the way, this is a case involving an Asian American, in terms of getting into school, and whether there’s affirmative action makes sense at all from the standpoint of those who are arguing against it. But, you know, the fact is that we’re — we’re also in a circumstance where there’s a lot that we can do in the meantime to make sure that there’s an access to good education across the board....[L]et’s see what the Supreme Court decides and I’m — I am hopeful and our team and our — the lawyers who argued for us are not nearly as certain as the people you quoted as saying it’s going to be overruled.
And after a question about how he’ll fix inflation for black families, Ryan’s third and final question was the most gag-worthy of the presser: “Last question on humanity. Sir, you can’t legislate and you can’t executive order out the issue of empathy or the lack thereof in the midst of this rhetoric — this heated political rhetoric. What’s next?”
Oh, Dear Leader, tell us how you’re going to bring strength, justice, and stability to your new empire!
To read all of the questions from reporters (and some of Biden’s answers), check out this Twitter thread.
To see the relevant transcript from November 9, click here.