White House ‘Dysfunction’ Being Blamed For Biden’s Inability to Break Through to Americans


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

It has often been said that political leaders who have been in Washington too long are “out of touch” and “tone-deaf” to the country’s problems and which issues are most important to voters.

The same complaints are being leveled against President Joe Biden and his inner circle, the vast majority of whom have been in American politics for decades and are deeply invested in the Democratic Party.

A new column posted at lays bare this disconnect between the Biden administration and the vast majority of the country as the president and vice president have dropped to the 30s in terms of approval, taking members of their party with them:

Being familiar never makes the feeling less dreadful: White House aides emailing each other during one of President Joe Biden’s stops on the road, tracking who’s covering what he’s saying, which TV channels are taking the speech live — and realizing a number of times that the answer was none.


“You are thinking,” said one person familiar, “why are we doing this?”

Biden and his inner circle get weekly readouts of the metrics on local newspaper coverage of his speeches, how long and for what he was covered on cable, but also videos that staff post on Twitter and other social media interactions. Those reports go on the piles with internal memos from pollsters saying Biden isn’t breaking through in traditional news outlets and that the people who are engaged are mostly voters who’ve already made up their minds.

But beneath this struggle to break through is a deeper dysfunction calcified among aides who largely started working together only through Zoom screens and still struggle to get in rhythm. They’re still finding it hard to grasp how much their political standing has changed over the last year, and there’s a divide between most of the White House staff and the inner circle who have been around Biden for longer than most of the rest of that staff has been alive.

In an email to the outlet, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said, “That is not the dynamic in the White House.”

Meanwhile, Biden is the centerpiece of this dysfunction, as he continues to try to “calibrate himself to the office,” CNN noted, almost sounding as if the network is excusing the policies and performance of Biden, who has spent nearly his entire adult life in Washington: More than 30 years in the U.S. Senate and eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president.

Under his tutelage, for instance, inflation has risen to historic highs; he’s not done much to unite as he promised to do given the massing political tensions between left and right; the U.S. southwest border is chaotic and overrun; there is a worsening baby formula shortage; and Americans are paying more at the gas and diesel pumps than ever before.


“Biden can’t see a way to address that while also being the looser, happier, more sympathetic, lovingly Onion-parody inspiring, aviator-wearing, vanilla chip cone-licking guy — an image that was the core of why he got elected in the first place,” CNN reported.

“He has to speak to very serious things and you can’t do that getting ice cream,” one White House aide told the network.

He has also recently exploded at being constantly ‘corrected’ by aides following statements and speeches, according to published reports.


But perhaps more than anything, Biden just isn’t resonating — connecting to — the country in general.

“Aides regularly talk about how little traction they’re getting from one-off Biden appearances or events and then — whether on inflation, the baby formula shortage or mass shootings or the other crises landing on Biden’s desk — he’s often left looking like he’s in a reactive crouch on the issues that matter most to voters rather than setting the agenda,” the piece continued.

“Sometimes clipped moments from those speeches that the White House puts out on social media generate huge traffic but, at least as often, moments from the President appearing to be caught off-guard go viral on their own,” the outlet noted further.


CNN also noted that White House staff and insiders often bicker among themselves and hold repetitive meetings addressing the same topics and vowing to change how Biden is utilized, only to see nothing different happening in the days that follow.

“The irony, according to a number of top Democrats, is that with the country still battered and shaken from politics, the pandemic, the wobbly economy and just about everything else from the last few years, Joe Biden’s persona has all the pieces to meet the moment — if he came out to meet it,” the piece noted, adding a measure of pro-Biden fluff: “He’s the empathetic guy. He’s the middle-class guy. He’s the come together and work it out guy.”


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