Through the eyes of Baghdad Bob

Dan McLaughlin’s New York Post column on President Biden’s most recent public ruminations is headlined “Senile Joe Biden rambles about pony soldiers, Vietnam and lies about 9/11.” The Washington Times observes that KJP “cut Biden off Sunday as he spoke at a Hanoi press conference in Vietnam and shuffled off the stage, award-show style, as jazz music played in the background.” It is an episode that appears to come straight from the Twilight Zone.

By contrast, New York Times reporter Michael Shear performs as Biden’s Baghdad Bob. Shear gives us an unintentional parody of the “Republicans pounce” genre of prestige press journalism. This is classic:

In three days of diplomacy in Asia, President Biden rallied world leaders to help finance poor nations, fortified the coalition backing Ukraine and struck a deal with Vietnam to counter Chinese aggression.

But even before he left Vietnam on Sunday night, the president was hammered with a very different narrative.

By Monday morning, as the 80-year-old president was flying home on Air Force One, conservative media outlets had seized on his end-of-trip news conference as the latest evidence that he is too old to perform on the world stage.

It is a pattern that infuriates the White House, where Mr. Biden’s top aides believe that stories about the president’s age and health are stoked by his enemies in an effort to undermine his accomplishments.

In their coverage of the Hanoi news conference, conservatives took aim at Mr. Biden. The Daily Mail, which frequently mocks the president, was typical: “A sleepy President Joe Biden saw his rambling Vietnam press conference brought to a sudden end on Sunday night with his mic cut and jazz music playing him off the stage, like he went too long in an awards speech,” the site wrote.

Although Mr. Biden fielded questions on a range of foreign policy issues, including China’s economic troubles and climate change, he spoke softly and appeared tired. To make a point about climate deniers, Mr. Biden rambled into a familiar story about liars in a John Wayne movie, which left some in the audience deeply perplexed.

Shear’s “climate deniers” formulation should not pass without quotation marks. The Biden climate apocalypse brooks no dissent. Shear swallows it whole. It is assumed to be true.

By the same token, Shear takes as a given the reality of Biden’s alleged “accomplishments” on the trip. It is all pure Baghdad Bobbery.

For some reason or other, Shear omits to note that Biden’s “familiar story” to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no such John Wayne movie. It might account for the audience’s alleged “perplexity,” as Shear has it. Shear, by the way, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner.

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