President Biden will hold his first formal press conference in months on Wednesday afternoon. And it comes at a tipping point in his presidency just one year after receiving more votes than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history.
It’s hard to imagine things going worse for the 46th president at this moment. In the span of a few days last week, his approval rating clocked in at 33 percent in a poll by Quinnipiac University, the same polling organization that had him at 50 percent approval shortly after taking office.
It was also reported that inflation is at a 40-year high. Also on Wednesday, it was announced that the Consumer Price Index rose seven percent in 2021, its fastest increase since 1982. Then voting rights activist Stacey Abrams avoided being seen with the president during his visit to Georgia for a speech on (checks notes) voting rights. And when Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) ended the Democrats’ dream of federalizing elections after declaring (again) that she would not vote to eliminate the filibuster, a bleak week somehow got worse.
Then the Supreme Court rejected the president’s vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees. The 6-3 decision came as COVID-19 cases reached their highest point since the pandemic began and the U.S. shot back beyond more than 2,000 COVID-related deaths per day despite Biden’s campaign promise to control and defeat the virus.
Unfortunately, those paying attention know how the POTUS press conference is going to go: His handlers will compile a list of reporters not hostile, and mostly hospitable, to the president. Because we wouldn’t want to make the leader of the free world uncomfortable with tough questions, now would we?
For what it’s worth, here’s a few friendly suggestions for questions that should be asked.
— Mr. President, why is it harder for people to vote in your home state of Delaware than in the state of Georgia? And why do you support legislation that guts voter ID requirements on the state level when an overwhelming share of Americans supports voter ID?
— More than 2 million people crossed into this country illegally last year, sir. Record numbers of fentanyl have entered the country via the border as well. Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 18 and 45. More than COVID-19. More than suicide. Why haven’t you visited the border yet, given the crisis there? And what are you doing specifically to address this crisis?
— Sir, you’ve claimed that adding trillions in new spending via Build Back Better would decrease inflation and the deficit. Can you explain specifically from an economic perspective how that would work?
— Mr. President, 16 major cities set homicide records in 2021. All are run by Democratic mayors. What is your message to mayors and police forces across the country who are experiencing a morale crisis?
You get the idea…
Here’s the deal (as Biden might say): The American people are frustrated. More than a few of the 81 million who voted for the president are disappointed. Angry. Frustrated. And accountability is needed more than ever.
The press needs to press this president for specifics. They need to ask about issues that truly matter to the American people: Inflation, supply chain disruptions, crime, COVID, education and the border.
In a related story, this is Biden’s first formal press conference at the White House in exactly 300 days. No president has been more guarded and scripted than this one, and the data show it. All told, Biden has held just nine press conferences (most with foreign leaders that involve few questions) in his first year. For context, Donald Trump held 21 in his first year.
Will the White House correspondents do their job this time? Tune in Wednesday afternoon to find out. But keep your expectations appropriately low.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.