Last night, Joe Biden gave his first prime time address since taking office. Biden, who still hasn’t held a press conference and who still hasn’t delivered a State of the Union, reminded everyone who watched it just why the White House is so hell bent on hiding the President from the media: because he is an unmitigated disaster when he speaks.

Even by Biden standards the speech was dismal. Biden rambled, looked lost, and delivered cringe-worthy attempts at “showing emotion.”

It was more Saturday Night Live than Lincoln, but you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t watch the speech.

If you just watch and read the coverage of the speech, and skipped the speech itself, you would think that Biden delivered an absolute homerun of oration last night – rather than the stumbling mess he actually delivered.

Politico, playing the role of Baghdad Bob for Biden and the DNC, absolutely shamelessly slobbered all over the speech, comparing it to Reagan after the Challenger disaster and George W Bush after 9/11:

But it is worth taking a moment to dwell on this unique pastoral role of the presidency, if only because it has been absent for the last four years and because Biden is being widely praised for restoring it. 

Whether it’s a natural disaster, a war, a terrorist attack, a mass shooting — some devastating event that shocks Americans equally and temporarily suspends the usual divisions — for better or worse we turn to the president not just to push and pull the levers of government in response, but also to console us. 

The images of those moments are indelible: RONALD REAGAN speaking after the Challenger disaster, BILL CLINTON memorializing the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, GEORGE W. BUSH with a bullhorn on a pile of rubble and BARACK OBAMA wiping away tears describing the Sandy Hook massacre.

Not to be outdone, CNN’s Chris Cillizza – who once hilariously claimed journalists don’t root for one side or the other – treated Biden’s speech like a national therapy session:

The return of empathy: Biden made a single gesture in the speech that demonstrated the empathy he operates with vis a vis the lives lost to this pandemic. He pulled a card out of his jacket pocket — which he said he keeps with him wherever he goes — and read off the exact, up-to-date number of Americans who have died from the coronavirus. (That number ismore than 527,000.)

Yes, of course, Biden did that for dramatic effect. But it worked. And it drove home the idea that this is a leader who keeps those who have died from the pandemic close to his heart — literally. It also provided a not-so-subtle contrast with Trump’s overt politicization of the virus and those who succumbed to it.

The Washington Post’s “fact checker” Glenn Kessler could only find two moments that Biden “stretched the truth,” which is apparently the new description for what they called “lying” when Trump spoke.

While most Americans who actually tuned into the speech saw a rambling mess from a man clearly in over his head, the Washington Post’s Jen Rubin saw poetry!

The speech itself was sober in retrospect and optimistic in forecast. Biden recalled our “collective suffering” and the heroic efforts of scientists and health-care professionals. He poetically announced, “Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it might be the most American thing we do.”

As he is wont to do, Biden commiserated with the loss of life and the economic turmoil, the educational interruption and the missed family occasions. Ironically, he said, we found unity in suffering. “While it was different for everyone, we all lost something.”

The breakneck speed of journalism’s treatment of the White House, going from lead prosecutor to lead defense attorney in less than two months, is almost as laughable as it is predictable.

The media absolutely humiliated itself in the way they conducted themselves during the Trump years and it was hard to imagine that they could debase their profession anymore, but here we are.

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