Stretch! USA Today Writer Claims Biden's Jackie Lapse Made Him Look Better Than Trump

September 30th, 2022 12:32 PM

John Sexton at Hot Air identified some terrible spin trying to defend Biden forgetting Rep. Jackie Walorski is dead. USA Today columnist Jill Lawrence, a longtime political reporter and a former editor of the paper's Commentary section, suggested the memory lapse demonstrated Biden's decency, unlike Trump. The first headline in Google News was especially egregious (USA Today fact check?)

Then it changed to "isn't just":  

The headline in Friday's paper is "President's lapse says volumes about his generosity: Biden recognizes his 'duty to care' for all."  Barf. 

Lawrence wrote:

I shuddered when I learned that President Joe Biden had called out to a crowd in search of a congresswoman who died nearly two months ago in an automobile accident. He’s going to turn 80 in November and let’s face it, this seemed like a memory fail – a particularly embarrassing one.

Yet there’s another way to look at this: Biden was trying to credit the late Indiana Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski – a lawmaker who voted on Jan. 6, 2021, to object to his presidential victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania and who this March labeled his agenda “radical & reckless” – for her good work on nutrition and hunger.

It’s unfortunate that he made the mistake. At the same time, it demonstrated a generosity and professionalism that was also present in Biden’s Tuesday conversation with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a frequent and harsh Biden critic, as Hurricane Ian bore down on his state.

Here's Walorski's March tweet -- which is fairly standard partisan fare. But it's upsetting to a staunch Biden supporter like Lawrence.

Sexton underlined that "Lawrence missed the fact that Monday Biden made a point of calling three mayors in Florida and conspicuously did not call Gov. DeSantis." It was only after White House reporters pressed FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell about whether Biden has called DeSantis that the White House decided they needed to call the governor -- as Sexton emphasized, "the courtesy call which Jill Lawrence is now pointing to as proof of Biden's deep empathy." (Then Biden had trouble with her name.)

The paper-towel takedown on Trump was also weird.  

The contrast with former President Donald Trump is glaring. If he intuited “a duty to care,” he conveyed that strangely by, for instance, throwing paper towels at a crowd of Puerto Ricans in 2017 after the island had been devastated by Hurricane Maria.

“It showed such a lack of empathy,” chef José Andrés told The Washington Post a year later.

Then Lawrence went on a long tear about Trump fighting with governors over COVID. Lawrence concluded: 

As so many of us know from our own lives, with age come memory lapses, and that’s often the least of it. 

I am already on record as a fan of Biden’s presidency while also hoping he won’t run for reelection in 2024. But let’s put this moment in perspective. You need only look back a couple of years to remember that some things are more important than age and a perfect memory.

This isn't an issue of "perfect memory." It's forgetting who's dead, which suggests more than a little memory lapse.