The White House is being hit with accusations Joe Biden fell asleep during an Oval Office photo opp with Natftali Bennet, the prime minister of Israel, one of America’s greatest allies.
Extraordinary footage shows Biden sitting stock-still in the familiar Oval Office setting in front of the fireplace, flanked to one side by Bennet.
As the Israeli leader speaks of the “beautiful story of the friendship between our two nations” Biden can be seen, hands clasped over his stomach, head leaning forward. His eyes are obscured, but the President certainly looks as if he’s drifting off.
Over the weekend, social media lit up as conservatives accused Biden once again of being unfit for office. “Wake up, Joe. You have a resignation letter to sign!” tweeted Republican congresswoman, Lauren Boebert. Meanwhile, liberals strenuously denied he was asleep.
TV network CNN, which frequently came to blows with Donald Trump during his presidency and is widely viewed as an unashamedly liberal media outlet, quickly and aggressively asserted the President was not asleep.
CNN fact checker, Daniel Dale tweeted: “This ‘Biden asleep’ stuff is nonsense. Full vid … shows: 1) Biden talking; 2) Biden looking at Bennett; 3) Biden looking downward, his hands moving, starting right when Bennett mentioned this week’s ‘difficult days’; 4) Biden immediately replying to Bennett.”
Dale was backed up by a journalist at the Washington Post, which also had a sustained rift with the Trump administration. “Why are people so gullible about this stuff? The video’s blurry (shot off a TV) because a crisp video that doesn’t cut out shows him fidgeting with his hands and responding,” tweeted political reporter, Dave Weigel.
Fidgeting is a stretch. Longer clips of the session show Biden introducing the Israeli PM with his hands held up over his chest as he speaks. The President gesticulates at times and his posture – eyes down, head hunched forward – is the same when speaking.
However, during periods when Bennet is addressing the media, the 78-year-old is virtually motionless, his hands resting further down his body, his thumbs moving only occasionally. And contrary to Weigel’s claim, the image is only marginally sharper and makes no difference to the impression of the President’s state of mind. The camera angle is better too, again, no difference.
Even if Biden wasn’t asleep, it’s hard to believe he is in command of his senses. Even the most audacious CNN or New York Times journalist would not argue he was engaged with Bennet, who manfully carries on talking as if he’s accompanied by a pepped up president.
In September, a dull video of Hillary Clinton endorsing the then-presidential candidate provoked “sleepy Joe” accusations – a moniker given to him by Trump. Again, the media passionately defended Biden, however, the lapses in concentration were shorter. Biden’s face is to camera too.
By contrast, in the clip from Friday, Biden clearly does not feel the media glare as Bennet rattles off his platitudes.
The President appearing to be caught falling asleep on the job has come at the worst possible time. He is under extreme scrutiny for his mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal as he tries to switch his attention to hurricane Ida that began buffeting America’s Gulf Coast last night.
And to think, we’re less than a year into his presidency. Yikes!