Even liberal media is now pointing out the “subtle accommodations” being made for Joe Biden’s deteriorating condition.
There’s that matter of the short stairs, that I pointed out before. But now liberal media is writing about it more prominently too, and noting that the White House isn’t providing any answers on the matter.
The informality of the president’s wardrobe distracted from something else — something reporters who travel with him have been noticing for some time. Biden boarded using the shorter set of retractable stairs that fold into the belly of the plane. The routine began a few months ago, the president increasingly avoiding the grander, more traditional doorway near the front of the aircraft on the main passenger level, higher above the tarmac.
The new routine looks to be another subtle accommodation to the president’s age. It is hiding in plain sight, although the White House won’t concede that interpretation. Three weeks ago when the president traveled to New York, again using the lower stairs to board, Bloomberg’s Justin Sink pressed press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about it during her in-flight gaggle. Was Biden having “mobility problems,” Sink asked, or was it “to address — you know, he’s had a couple of incidents falling on the stairs getting up and you guys just decided that it would be better for him?”
They also noted that Biden used the short stairs for every flight when they went to Europe — to London, Vilnius, Helsinki, and D.C. to get back on the planes although he used the longer stairs to descend in Europe to the formal greeting ceremonies.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s response when asked about the matter? She has no idea.
“I don’t have any decision process to walk through,” Jean-Pierre replied. “I’m sure there’s a protocol that’s used for the — for Air Force One. I just don’t have one.”
A White House official said there was no “hard and fast rule.”
Uh huh. That just started happening after he took a big fall at the Air Force Commencement, following multiple other falls including falling multiple times going up the steps to Air Force One a couple of years ago.
But according to Politico, while the public responses wouldn’t acknowledge they’re trying to accommodate his issues, they have two sources privately saying yes, that’s what it’s about.
While many Biden advisers POLITICO contacted would not comment publicly on the change, two privately acknowledged an intentional shift to steer the 80-year-old president to the lower stairs more often to make his travel easier and limit the possibility for missteps. Why climb 26 sometimes wobbly steps at Joint Base Andrews, raised off the back of a pick-up truck that drives up beside Air Force One, when you have the option of stepping up or down just 14? Especially when few outside the press corps are likely to even notice.
But even so, even with fewer steps on the short stairs, Biden still stumbled slightly going up them leaving Helsinki. It’s also intriguing that they have people leaking about this when the official position seems to be not to acknowledge it. So you have some on his team who aren’t willing to completely go along with this game.
They’re also shifting him to wearing things other than dress shoes, perhaps also with the thought that might help limit his tripping.
The sneakers are another concession to comfort necessitated by age.
One person close to the president said Biden used to always resist wearing anything other than dress shoes, believing that any other footwear look was unpresidential. But he has eased up on that stance in recent months. Moreover, the person said that Biden — whose gait has noticeably stiffened, to the point where it was noted by his doctor in his annual physical — is also at times still bothered by residual soreness from the foot he broke while playing with one of his dogs during the transition more than two years ago.
They’re also trying to minimize situations where his “physical frailty might be on heightened display” and to “ease the burdens of travel” such as having him not attend the leaders’ dinner at the NATO summit, the third such gathering Biden either skipped or left early in the past year.
We reported how former Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to give Biden a little cover by talking about people who were older than him including her saying he should “embrace his age.” “He’s a kid. It’s relative – he’s younger than I am, he’s a kid to me as well,” the 83-year-old said. But that just emphasizes the age problems with the Democrats.
Plus, the problem with Joe Biden isn’t just “age” but a lack of coherence that we see day after day. There’s only so much you can cover by pulling out the short stairs, when he has such significant problems, and they’re not going to be able to hide him in the basement this time around.