Ron Klain, who is nominally Biden’s Chief of Staff but is really the 46th president of the United States, is doing a very bad job. He is making unforced error after error.
Official Washington, and the media, as usual, ask the wrong question wondering if Biden is up to the job of president. But that was never his job. He appointed Ron Klain — his chief of staff as VP — to be president and handle all that as his very first act after election day.
It only goes to show that a man who might do well as a chief of staff fails when he assumes the top job and has to run the presidency on his own.
Klain let his charge, Joe Biden, go out in public — itself a mistake — to declare that there was no federal solution to COVID. Biden had campaigned on the single issue that he had a federal plan to cope with the virus.
Then, Klain let the nominal vice president admit, also in public, that his administration had failed to anticipate not only the current omicron virus variant, but the previous delta version, too. He even let her say that this failure, despite many warnings from scientists, is costing thousands of lives.
As President Clinton’s strategist when he appointed Klain — who had been Gore’s chief of staff — to run his re-election campaign, I saw first-hand his total lack of imagination and creativity. But his incompetence, after helping to keep Al Gore out of trouble, is a surprise.
But then, advising Biden in his current mental state after working with Gore is like doing physical therapy after coaching a track team.
Klain compounded his failure when he put his president on television to showcase a plan to mail out hundreds of millions of tests when they weren’t even yet manufactured and when billions, not millions, were, in fact, needed. Klain made his latest mistake right as the nation retired to its Christmas holiday, haunted by the fear of a galloping pandemic racing across the land.
Then, with the holiday approaching, he had Biden force the airlines and other vital links in the transportation grid, to lay off or sideline workers either because they tested positive or refused to be vaccinated. So a great many grandchildren couldn’t go to Grandma’s house to get their Christmas presents.
Klain’s lack of experience showed itself when he failed to use the $1.9 trillion Congress had appropriated in COVID relief to mass produce the best cure for it — monoclonal antibodies. Klain, meanwhile, alienated the unvaccinated — including much of his African-American political base — by trying to make them the culprits for the virus’ spread.
Most recently, Klain failed to tell Biden about the chant “Let’s Go Brandon” that is traveling, like its own virus, from football stadium to stadium during the Bowl season. How was Biden supposed to know what the chant meant unless Klain told him? Although, to be honest, he probably told Joe, but he forgot.
Meanwhile, after a flurry of activity pressuring Putin not to invade Ukraine, Klain’s patient lapsed into silence, saying nothing more as the Russian leader seized the rhetorical initiative while continuing to mass troops on his Ukrainian border.
It should be evident that Klain’s not up to the job.
Official Washington — and the media — continue to blame poor old Joe Biden for these stupid mistakes when they know that Joe isn’t calling the shots. In fact, he can’t even find the rifle.
The real power, of course, resides with the staff hired to supervise his care as he navigates a job that is clearly too much for him to handle.
Legally, Biden still has the power to fire Klain, but politically, shaking up his staff would just be yet another indication of Joe’s incompetence. Besides, where is he going to find another chief of staff as adept — despite his failures — at spoon-feeding his client?
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