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No one greeted the Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, a head of state, when he arrived at the White House last Friday for the first state visit President Biden’s overseers allowed him to have since his installation. A door guard had to admit Mr. Suga and he stood around in the foyer surely wondering if he had the date wrong or was at the wrong address, while someone summoned the Vice President from somewhere.
Mr. Suga then stood before the press while a grim-faced Mrs. Heiress nattered on about the terribly gun-violent country he was visiting, that there was no question that this gun violence must end and how she, that she and Mr. Biden were thinking of the families of the gun-violence victims — all as if she and her fellow leftists hadn’t spent the last 12 years creating entirely new and inventive ways of failing to stem the violence that they birthed and nurtured to terrifying adulthood (I’m looking at you, Barack-FBI-CIA-NSA-BLM-Antifa).
Then she smiled and tossed her Breck-girl hair and welcomed the Prime Minister of Japan and oh my gah, who are these people? Granny and Uncle Jed had better company manners. You can’t see Mr. Suga’s entire face, but his eyes look confused about the fresh hell he’d been dropped into and he was probably counting the minutes until he could leave.
I was embarrassed for Mr. Suga and the Japanese who had to watch their leader be treated as if he didn’t matter. Who’s in charge of protocol in Mr. Biden’s White House? Is it the same person who led the Dalai Lama through the kitchen and out the back door by the garbage bags after his state visit with Obama?
After luncheon, Mr. Biden and Mr. Suga gave a press conference timed to the movements of the Prague Astronomical Clock. There was no smiling or rapport of any kind, and it had the jerky quality of a middle school claymation project.
Mr. Biden called on a reporter who asked about his administration’s inability to focus on more than one agenda item at a time. Did he want to say anything to the people about his lack of progress on gun control and police reform because they had to wait while he pursued infrastructure, while at the same time people are horrified by the mass shootings and police shootings like the one in Chicago recently, and does he feel any need to re-prioritize his agenda?
Mr. Biden’s answer was all about guns. I’m paraphrasing here, but he insisted he was the only one to ever do this and that on guns and bans on assault weapons and clips that hold more than 10 bullets. As he got going his voice got louder and he started repeating himself, and I quote: “I strongly support, I strongly support, the universal background checks. [snip] It’s a national embarrassment. It is a national embarrassment what’s going on. [snip] Every single day (smacks the podium). Every single day (smacks the podium again) there’s a mass shooting in the United States. [snip] It’s a national embarrassment. [snip] Who in God’s name needs a weapon that can hold 100 rounds or 40 rounds or 20 rounds? It’s just wrong and I’m not going to give up ‘til it’s done.”
Until what’s done, exactly? He doesn’t say. And I personally suspect that the real reason the first row of the press corps sits 6 feet away is so they don’t get spit on when he mangles all the sibilants in his speeches.
All the while Mr. Suga is just standing there looking at nothing, wearing the same half-smile I wear when I’m standing in line at the DMV so I don’t look like a furious biotch, which would mean that all the DMV ladies hate me before I even get up to the counter.
Mr. Biden turns to Mr. Suga and asks him if he has a question he wants to offer. Er, not a question. Uh, recognize someone. Mr. Suga called on a reporter who asked him what he and the president talked about during their meeting. Mr. Suga said he explained all his opinions and positions to Mr. Biden, “…who I think understood my points.” Who I think understood my points? That’s what I say to my husband after I’ve told my Dachshund that he must stop pooping in the house, “I think he understood my points.”
The Reuter reporter upon whom Mr. Biden called asked about Iran’s determination to start up the uranium enrichment festivities again. Mr. Biden looked down at his prepared statement and read the words in a halting voice. Then he looked at Mr. Suga. Then looked at the audience. Then he looked at Mr. Suga again. Then he looked around and raised his hand in a “What’s supposed to happen now?” motion but Mr. Suga was in a boredom coma and couldn’t move or speak. His interpreter called on a reporter who asked a question about Covid and the Olympics. Mr. Suga looked down at his paper and read off the answer. Then it was over.
CNN posted a breathless, blow-by-blow account of this “press conference” on its website and, as I read it, I wondered, “Did we watch the same thing?” CNN’s analysis was akin to the twisty-turvy plot of Interstellar while I was sure I had just watched Plan Nine From Outer Space. I think I’ll trust my own lying eyes.