President Biden hasn’t had a lot of face time with reporters, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made any verbal missteps since his inauguration.
A self-aware mistake-prone politician who has talked himself into hot water more than once, Biden largely has been shielded from the press as coronavirus restrictions limit direct access to the new president. He opened up a bit to reporters following a COVID-19 event on Tuesday, saying he hopes the country is back to its pre-pandemic normal “this time next year.” But he returned to his tight-lipped ways when asked what he learned in a border security briefing earlier in the day: “A lot.”
Biden’s habit of making verbal flubs has long been part of his political identity, and they can still prove problematic, according to Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture.
“Every time Biden talks, there’s always the calculated risk that he’s going to give us a ‘Biden-ism,'” Thompson said. “Because he is older than an awful lot of presidents, I think many people are trying to read into it, you know, is he losing his facility?”
But Thompson predicted Biden will weather the criticism as long as his miscues are not “creepy,” referring to allegations of Biden making women feel uncomfortable by invading their personal space, or implied “a disconnection with reality” or “a competence issue.”
“The important thing is, we make the distinction between saying something goofy or silly and saying something dangerous or offensive,” he said.
A month into his first term, Biden had so far been spared the scrutiny received by the likes of former President George W. Bush, who often struggled with public speaking, as the country deals with a public health and economic crisis.