King of the Bungle

King of the Bungle

January 20, 2022

The kinder reviews said it "didn't go quite as planned." But for anyone else tuning in to the longest presidential news conference in history, it was a disaster of epic proportions. The White House had been shielding Joe Biden from the press for months. And now we all understand why.

It was, as even Politico pointed out, his staff's worst "nightmare come true." For what might be the first time as president, Joe Biden was completely unfiltered. Suddenly off the short leash of his handlers, he talked for an hour and fifty-one minutes Wednesday, setting a record that outpaced even Donald Trump by a whole half an hour. But longer wasn't better for the flailing White House, as Biden's blunders on everything from Ukraine to COVID reminded everyone what a mistake his presidency has been.

On debacles like Afghanistan, he dug in. "I make no apologies," the president insisted on what many rank as the biggest mess of his term. The damning polls, Biden dismissed. "I don't believe [them]," he shrugged. On everything in between, he dropped jaws. "I'm not sure his staff is exactly excited about all the news he made," CNN commentators agreed, before Dana Bash joked, "Clean up on aisle State Department!"

Internationally, the conversation was devastating, as Biden all but cheered a Ukraine invasion. To the distress of Western leaders and both sides of the U.S. Senate (who sent a bipartisan delegation to Kyiv just this week), Biden seemed to condone what Russia was planning. "It depends on what [President Vladimir Putin] does. It's one thing if it's a minor incursion, and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do." At that, even veteran reporters were stunned. What exactly is a "minor incursion?" If Putin invades only part of Ukraine?

Look, CBN's David Brody said, "Biden can talk about sanctions... but the truth of the matter is that Putin doesn't respect Biden. And that's the name of the game in international foreign policy... If you don't [believe] that the person is going to [follow through] on much of anything, well, then, you're done." Calling it a "minor incursion" was a major mistake, as almost everyone -- even in the legacy media -- agrees. Biden so badly botched the issue that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was forced to reiterate the correct posture later that day -- even making a rare appearance on Fox News to do so.

Then there was the insistence that his first year was a complete success, something every political metric disputes. "I don't even know where to begin," Brody shook his head. "I mean, have I been sleeping for a year? Maybe I have. President Biden was talking about how he has [outperformed], that's the word he used, and [insisted] that there's unity in the country... He went through all of the problems in the economy, and then at the end said, 'We're making progress.' So he's all over the place."

He was asked specifically about inflation and didn't respond -- except to say that it has everything to do with the supply chain. Every problem from the beginning of the press conference to the end seemed to go back to the coronavirus, not the president's own terrible policies. There was no mention of the unconstitutional vaccine mandate, although he was cornered on the new math he's using to get the percentage of U.S. vaccinations higher.

"You touted the number of Americans who are now fully vaccinated with two shots," a reporter pointed out. "But even some of your own medical advisors say that people aren't fully protected unless they have that third shot -- a booster. Why hasn't this White House changed the definition of 'fully vaccinated' to include that third booster shot? Is it because the numbers of fully vaccinated Americans would suddenly look a lot less impressive?" Biden struggled to answer, meandering around for a few confusing sentences until he finally said, "The answer is yes. Get the booster shot. It's all part of the same thing." So which is it -- two shots or three? We still don't know.

At one point, the president lost complete control -- shouting at Real Clear Politics reporter Philip Wegmann for asking about his vile speech in Atlanta over voting rights. Wegmann had questioned Biden's controversial comparison: "Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? ... John Lewis or Bull Connor?" It was such an uncomfortable moment that journalists started tweeting about it. "'GO BACK AND READ WHAT I SAID!' Biden yells in response to the (mild) Phil Wegmann [asking] a mild question about Biden's comparison of political opponents to racists..." Mollie Hemingway tweeted. "Holy wow is this weird." Rich Lowry called it verbal abuse. But whatever people called it, it was another unhelpful picture of Biden unglued. A picture, Brody agreed, that only made more headaches for his staff.

"The White House is clearly protecting him [by not holding more of these events]. And I'll be honest with you, if I was part of the Biden administration... I'd be protecting him too... He's his own worst enemy..." A point on which the polls -- and world leaders -- almost certainly agree.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

A Year in the Strife of Joe Biden

January 20, 2022

To Joe Biden, it's been a year. To the rest of the country, it's felt like an eternity. The one-year anniversary of this president's inauguration hasn't exactly been cause for nationwide celebration, as a good number of his voters will tell you. Twelve months into his catastrophic term, only 28 percent of the country would reelect him (and that was before his disaster of a press conference). So when a reporter asked if the country is more unified than when he took office, Joe Biden is right. They are more unified -- against him.

Of course, to hear this president tell it, the last several months have been "enormous progress," the stuff of political legend. One correspondent begged to differ, asking, "Did you overpromise to the American public what you could achieve?" Biden's response was typical. "I didn't overpromise, but I have outperformed what anybody thought would happen... Everything is changing," the president said. "It's getting better." People like Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) wondered what planet Biden was living on. "His record is a record of failure," Johnson insisted. To the average American, this is true. But to the radical Left, he's outperformed beyond their wildest dreams.

While the rest of the country scrounges for groceries -- and the cash to pay for them -- look at what Biden has accomplished for his fringe: record-setting abortion dollars, transgender mandates for public schools, attacks on Christian education, chaos at the border, chaos in Afghanistan, chaos in our election system, taxpayer-funded gender reassignments, CRT and LGBT indoctrination in our classrooms, American parents labeled "domestic terrorists," transgenderism and wokeness in the military, conservatives and the unvaccinated out of the military, higher crime, fewer police, more division. The list goes on and on. Biden is failing on every single political measure except the one he cares about: the socialist Left's.

"When you look at the pattern of what he's done," FRC Vice President Travis Weber pointed out, "it's bizarre. It's not in proportion to reality and what most people are concerned about." He pointed to the 92 actions Biden has taken to undermine life, family, and religious freedom in just his first year -- major policies or pronouncements that have altered the course for American values. It's a record, surprisingly enough, that's more extreme than Barack Obama's. And it all points back to an abnormal fixation on things like transgenderism that are distracting from the very real issues our country is facing.

But there is one problem with catering to extremists, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) insisted on "Washington Watch." Americans don't like it. "They're trying to force-feed their radical socialist agenda to the America people, and the American people are standing up and saying, 'No, we don't want anything to do with this.'" Unfortunately for Joe Biden, the bill for this gamble is about to come due. And the Democratic Party, limping into November because of this president's failures, will appropriately be the ones paying it.

Earlier this week, Gallup painted a jarring picture of what's coming: a 14-point party affiliation swing. It's among the largest, the company says, it has ever measured for the parties "in any quarter since it started [tracking] party identification and leaning..." Making matters worse, Biden's approval rating with African Americans is down more than 20 percent (78 to 57 percent), and among Hispanics, he can barely muster 28 percent support. If that's his idea of a "pretty good" report card, the president is less in touch with reality than people thought.

But then, as his party has made quite clear, they aren't going to let a little something like voters get in the way of their majority. As the background to Biden's nightmare of a press conference, Senate Democrats were futilely trying to ram through their election takeover bill to guarantee one-party control. When it failed, the president moved on to plan B: undermining the midterm results.

In a statement that's more than a little hypocritical, given the party's outrage over the GOP's skepticism in 2020, Biden lowered himself to casting doubt on any election the Democrats don't win. "Oh, 2022... I mean, sure... I'm not going to say it's going to be legit," he told reporters at Wednesday's press conference. "...[T]he increase and the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these -- these reforms passed."

"This isn't normal," Dan McLaughlin warns. When the president of the United States attacks our election system as "rigged," he's "playing with fire." Sure, "Democrats have a long history of refusing to accept the legitimacy of defeats... But this is still an alarming escalation." An escalation that was already well on its way when the president equated honest Americans with history's racists.

It's certainly a long way from where we were at this point last year when Joe Biden stood at the podium and promised unity. "We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature." Twelve months later, he's the one who's shouting. And disunity rages on like another virus he can't stop.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

U.S. Complicity and Complacency Endangers Christians Worldwide

January 20, 2022

Early every year, Open Doors presents its updated World Watch List: "The top 50 countries where it's most difficult to follow Jesus." The 2022 list was introduced at a press conference on January 19, hosted by David Curry, Open Doors CEO. This year Curry's presentation included exceptionally worrisome information about new dangers globally, and deadly shifts in the free world's responses.

We should be prayerfully troubled by what we've learned.

Tony Perkins hosted David Curry on "Washington Watch" to discuss the new report. He began by pointing out that the 2022 Open Doors list includes one large and alarming shake-up -- "like nothing that's been seen in recent years."

Curry explained, "For twenty years North Korea has been at the top of the World Watch List because there you have a communist system led by a dictator. They control all the means that make life possible -- your economy, your food, the borders, the police, neighborhood watches. It's an old school Soviet communist system, but enforced with all the modern tools available. But now, all of a sudden -- and for the first time -- we have a new player on the scene at the top of our list: Afghanistan."

Afghanistan is now officially the world's #1 worst persecutor of Christians. It remained in second place for many years, although many Christians were unaware of its offenses due to the largely silent and invisible Christians there, comprised of converts from Islam. But now, since the United States' abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban has made a concerted effort to track down underground Christian leaders and to uncover the country's secret network of Christians.

Curry explained, "Some Christians have fled. We all know that story and are thankful for those who have helped make that happen. But some Christians choose to remain, bravely staying to bring salt and light to their community. They're being tracked. And we believe that every Christian who's still in Afghanistan -- and there are thousands of them -- are either in hiding or on the run. That's what has raised Afghanistan to #1 on the World Watch List."

Afghanistan certainly provides a clear example of a country in which flawed U.S. foreign policy directly stifles religious freedom and ignites the persecution of Christians.

Curry went on to say, "This is what happens when the free world allows countries like Afghanistan to fall into chaos. If you look at the top of the World Watch list, you'll see Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Eritrea. These are all largely failed states, which are totally in chaos, and they are the launching grounds of terrorism around the world. Our Open Doors study focuses on religious freedom, particularly for Christians, but that issue has implications for everybody else as well."

In recent years, FRC has written a great deal about the escalation of violence against Christians in another distressed location - Nigeria and in the adjoining Sahel region of West Africa. David Curry provided his perspective.

"There's a clash of civilizations going on there, and its epicenter in the north of Nigeria, where there are 13 Sharia law states. This is looking very familiar to us -- like ISIS when they took over Iraq and Syria. You have Boko Haram, which is ISIS related. You have Fulani extremists. Both are targeting Christians. You'll sometimes hear people say, 'Well, the Fulani herdsmen, they're just ancient farmers.' This is not the case. They have an ideology. They're targeting Christians in villages and towns; they're burning these down, they're kidnaping women and children. In fact, a thousand Christian children in Nigeria were kidnapped last year by Boko Haram or the Fulani.

"This is a major issue, and it's now bleeding over into a massive regional disaster that is going to continue to grow unless Nigeria and these central governments quickly get ahold and try to find a way to protect churches and Christian villages which are being attacked. Why doesn't the Nigerian government step up and protect these victims with their military and police? It's a question that demands answers."

FRC has actively and adamantly opposed the Biden administration's unexplained and reckless removal of Nigeria from the State Department's listing as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) less than a year after former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially designated it. "And now," Perkins points out, "since that removal, Nigeria's unconstrained violence has the potential to spill over well beyond Nigeria. And since Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa what effect could this eventually have on the African continent?"

Meanwhile another country that has been increasingly dangerous to its religious minorities is, of course, China. Although it does not appear among the top 10 World Watch List persecutors, As the U.S. proudly invests in China and applauds its Olympics, the regime's present course of oppression and intrusion is of serious concern to all people of faith including Uighurs, Falun Gong, and Buddhists.

David Curry explains, "China is number 17 on our list [of persecutors of Christians], and that's not because their threat is to be diminished. The outward violence is not the same as you might see in Nigeria, but they have the world's most sophisticated system of persecution. I describe it as a high-tech noose. And it has been slowly choking people of faith since President Xi consolidated his power. They shrink the churches. They force them to break up into small groups, then they force them to go online, then they monitor them online. Then they shut down their online experiences. Xi uses hi-tach surveillance. Every year they continue to add new layers to it, and it's just choking and choking and choking..."

To sum up, last year, 5,898 Christians were killed for their faith. 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked. 3,829 Christians were abducted. 6,175 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned. And over 360 million Christians lived in places where they experienced high levels of persecution and discrimination.

As for those of us who live in safety, let's never forget to pray for our endangered brothers and sisters around the world. And let's also continue to demand action from our U.S. government, which bears mounting responsibility for their suffering.