President Joe Biden has long faced criticism for his often confusing words and off-putting behavior.
Following remarks this week to reporters, however, it was the way he spoke — or more accurately, whispered — that led to mockery and confusion, as the New York Post reported.
“I wrote the bill”
A number of social media critics labeled the president’s behavior “creepy,” providing clips of him speaking in his library voice for no apparent reason as he fielded questions from journalists. As is often the case, Biden made his way through scripted remarks without many major slip-ups but encountered problems when the time came for off-the-cuff remarks to the reporters gathered around him.
In response to one question about when “relief” for struggling Americans would arrive, the president leaned close to the microphone and whispered: “I got them $1.9 trillion in relief so far. They’re going to be getting checks in the mail that are consequential this week for childcare.”
Apparently annoyed by the pointed questions, he later reacted to a query about reaching a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure spending by insisting that he would not “negotiate with the press” and acknowledged some debate on his side of the aisle regarding environmental concerns.
“I wrote the bill,” Biden added in a hushed tone after once again dropping close to the microphone, according to the Post. “On the environment.”
Minutes later, he repeated the same confusing tactic while dismissing criticism that his stimulus policies have motivated some Americans to drop out of the labor force.
“An employee’s bargaining chip”
“Pay them more,” he whispered in reference to the nation’s employers. “This is an employee’s bargaining chip now.”
This is nuts pic.twitter.com/L592KeVXaZ
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) June 24, 2021
Of course, Biden has a number of testy and bizarre exchanges with journalists in the past, prompting his staffers to express discomfort with the idea of allowing him to speak freely in such situations.
He has even acknowledged that his communication with reporters is closely controlled by those around him. Meanwhile, moments of apparent confusion and irritation only fuel speculation about his cognitive state.
At the end of the press conference on Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris had to remind Biden to comment on the deadly collapse of a condominium building in Miami, Florida.