Ahead of President Joe Biden’s first international trip since his inauguration, some speculation had already begun to surface that first lady Jill Biden was calling some of the shots behind the scenes.
During his speech on Wednesday at the Royal Air Force Mildenhall in the United Kingdom, that narrative was bolstered by his wife’s behavior — particularly when she told him to “pay attention.”
“I don’t want you to stand”
The president kicked off the event by addressing U.S. troops who remained standing, but the first lady soon interjected.
“You know, you can sit down,” she told the crowd. “I don’t want you to stand.”
At that point, she turned around to take a look at her husband, who had apparently missed something she deemed important.
“Pay attention, Joe,” she advised.
The president also sparked some concern about his ability to perform the duties of his job during the speech, even telling the audience: “I keep forgetting I’m president.”
“And this is not a joke”
Of course, he did touch on some serious matters during the address, including a reference to his two terms as vice president during the Obama administration and the military intelligence he received at that time.
“And this is not a joke,” he said. “You know what the Joint Chiefs told us the greatest threat facing America was? Global warming. Because there will be significant population movements, fights over land, millions of people leaving places because they are literally sinking below the sea in Indonesia, because of the fights over what is arable land anymore.”
For his part, former President Donald Trump released a statement lambasting the claim that global warming is the nation’s greatest military threat.
“Biden just said that he was told by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Climate Change is our greatest threat,” he wrote. “If that is the case, and they actually said this, he ought to immediately fire the Joint Chiefs of Staff for being incompetent!”
As the current president attempts to lead the U.S. through a tumultuous moment in international affairs marked by terror threats, cyberattacks, and an immigration crisis, maybe the first lady’s public admonishment to “pay attention” was necessary after all.