The Corner

Immigration

The President’s View Is Inseparable from His Administration’s View

President Joe Biden speaks about the mass shooting in Colorado from the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 23, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

CNN reports that Joe Biden called the situation on the border a “crisis,” but that we shouldn’t pay any attention to his having done so:

The President’s use of the “crisis” label doesn’t represent the administration’s official position, the White House said Monday in regard to a term that top administration officials have refused to say as the numbers of migrants surged.

Sorry, but . . . what? Joe Biden is the president of the United States. He is the head of the executive branch. The “Biden administration” is named for him. How can it possibly be the case that the president’s use of a label “doesn’t represent the administration’s official position”?

As far as I can see, there are only two possibilities here. The first is that Biden is not setting administration policy. In which case, one must ask, “Who is?” The second is that Biden is not sure what his own view is. In which case, we have a problem. It is notable that at no point in CNN’s piece is Biden quoted correcting himself. Instead, Jen Psaki and an unnamed “White House official” provide an explanation that simply cannot be reconciled with what Biden initially said.

I am not someone who is interested in prosecuting gaffes. Politicians are busy people who travel a lot, and, from time to time, they are going to mess up. Critics threw the “57 states” line at Barack Obama for years, but, in truth, it didn’t matter in the slightest. Barack Obama knew how many states there are. He just misspoke. We all do. So what? To be told by the White House that the president’s words do not represent the position of the administration, though — that is something else entirely.

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