During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden stated that “the words of a president matter.” It’s true, the words of a president matter—the ones that are spoken and the ones that aren’t. It was meant to be a dig at Donald Trump, who Biden argued didn’t have the temperament to be president, yet these words seem to have been more applicable to himself. This week, he didn’t acknowledge the anniversary of D-Day until late in the evening—after being called out for hours over the omission. A year earlier, he didn’t acknowledge it at all.
So, on Wednesday, after a would-be assassin of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was arrested, one would have expected a statement from the president of the United States about it.
Except we didn’t get one.
The best we got out of the White House was a canned response from his proxy, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
“So, the President condemns the actions of this individual in the strongest terms and is grateful to law enforcement for quickly taking him into custody,” she said in response to a question about the attempted assassination. “As the President has consistently made clear, public officials, including judges, must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety or that of their families. And any violence threats — threats of violence or attempts to intimidate justices have no place in our society. He has said that himself, and we have been forceful from the podium many times.”
Forceful? Really? Last month, Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to condemn activists posting the justices’ home addresses online.
Jen Psaki says Biden has no position on pro-abortion activists posting a map of the HOME ADDRESSES of Supreme Court justices pic.twitter.com/MKoDJLr8CW
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 5, 2022
The next day, she refused to comment on whether Biden had “a view” on activists harassing Supreme Court justices at their homes, even though it is against the law.
“Does the President want protesters to influence Supreme Court justices so that they uphold Roe?” she was asked.
“I wouldn’t say he has a view on that,” she said. “He believes in peaceful protests, but they’re going to make decisions they make, and we’re not going to prejudge a final opinion.”
Days later, she once again refused to condemn the illegal protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices.
“Does the President plan to condemn the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion or the doxing of the justices, now that we’ve seen violence unfold?” a reporter asked.
“Well, I would say that we have been clear and the President’s position has long been that we should not see protests that takes the form of violence, that takes the form of vandalism, and that threatens anyone,” she replied. “That has long been his position for his entire career and continues to be his position.”
No condemnation came.
So, I suppose it’s a marginal improvement that Karine Jean-Pierre said that Joe Biden “condemns the actions” of Kavanaugh’s would-be assassin, even if it was broad and generic. But mostly, I’m disappointed that there is no official statement from Joe Biden himself.
When an activist threatens to assassinate a Supreme Court justice, the president of the United States should forcefully condemn it… personally. Yet there was no statement attributed to Joe Biden about the attempted assassin released by the White House.
Joe Biden may not have any love for Justice Kavanaugh, and may disagree with the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, but that is no excuse for his failure to personally condemn the attempted assassination, instead of relying on a generic condemnation from his press secretary. For someone who once recognized that the words of a president matter, Biden seems to think it doesn’t apply to himself.