President Joe Biden is facing mounting criticism over his reluctance to give a solo press conference more than a month into his term.
Considering his awkward, if not offensive, phone call this week with NASA’s Perseverance team, it might not be hard to see why he is hesitant to address reporters on his own. For starters, Biden marveled at how “amazing” he believed it was to see Indians “taking over” the United States.
“We’re such a diverse country”
The purpose of his call was to congratulate the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on its successful rover landing on Mars — but it soon became evident that the president’s mind was somewhere else as he began weighing in on issues related to demographic trends.
Speaking to Dr. Swati Mohan, Biden seemed to be engaging in a bizarre form of flattery by commenting on the rise in prominence of the Indian-American community.
“It’s amazing,” he declared. “Indian — of descent — Americans are taking over the country. You, my vice president, my speechwriter Vinay.”
In addition to Mohan, Biden referred to Kamala Harris and Vinay Reddy, both of whom have Indian ancestry. Later in the same call, the president attempted to tie in his thoughts about the benefits of cultural diversity.
“One of the reasons why we’re such an incredible country is we’re such a diverse country,” Biden said, according to the New York Post. “We bring the best out of every single solitary culture in the world, here in the United States of America, and we give people an opportunity to let their dreams run forward.”
“Am I supposed to speak now?”
Of course, this was far from his first foray into controversial remarks about minority populations — including an apparent joke in 2006 that “you cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”
His recent statements suggest little has changed over the years, aside from the perception among many Americans that the garrulous politician is exhibiting signs of cognitive decline. As one example, he began the NASA call by asking: “Am I supposed to speak now?”
Biden went on to tell NASA scientists that they had “restored a dose of confidence” across the U.S. and around the world that “America is back” following mounting doubts about the nation’s stature.
“Your kids are going to be studying about when democracy once again re-established it can do anything, as opposed to autocracies that can just command things,” he added.
The president’s rambling remarks continued as he compared himself to a “poor relative” who overstays his welcome. The NASA call came just one day after an uncanny scene at a House Democratic Caucus event when the president said that he was “happy to take questions” if that was what he was “supposed to do,” as the New York Post reported. Moments later, a live feed of the event cut out.