Biden’s staff tries to keep him on message….

The tool of choice: “cheat sheets”.

Let’s set the stage.

Yesterday, President Biden faced the press, trying to remediate the stir that he caused with his European trip ad libs: “Respond in kind” to chemical weapons; American soldiers “will see for yourself” when they go to Ukraine; “Putin must be removed from power”.

Over the weekend (e.g. on all the Sunday talk shows) Biden’s staff was hard at work “clarifying” his remarks (i.e. in DC parlance, “walking them back”).

Then, the handler’s decided to have the President put the punctuation marks on the walk backs at a controlled press conference.

From the get-go, things went off track

Biden opened by ad libbing; “I’m not walking anything back”.

Nonetheless, he tried to dutifully follow the script that the handlers gave him.

How do we know?

He got sloppy with his crib notes … and a press photographer snapped them for the public record.


Couple of interesting aspects to this story…

> The bold print questions bear a remarkable similarity (i.e. practically verbatim) to the questions posed by the administration-friendly reporters who were called on.

> Even the sequence of the questions that reporters asked seemed to match-up with the cheat sheet.  Hmm.

> The crib sheet didn’t have minute details (like the population of Mariupol) …  they listed high level “talking points” that one might have expected an involved, alert person to easily recall from memory.

> There was a glaring mismatch between the scripted answers …  and Biden’s opening declaration of no walk-back.

That clearly violated the classic presentation mantra: Tell them what you’re going to tell them; tell them; tell them what you told them.

So, what we learned was that Biden either was or was not walking back his controversial remarks.

The only certain conclusion that one might draw was that Biden and his staff aren’t on the same page.

It wasn’t even clear that Joe knew that his staff was on the airwaves all weekend walking back his comments.

How could he not know that?

Makes one wonder who in the administration made the decision to deploy the staff to take to the air waves and walk back the statements?

Obviously, it wasn’t Biden.

So, who’s running the show?

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