President Joe Biden visited Florida’s Big Bend region on Saturday to survey the areas ravaged by Hurricane Idalia — even though he technically was in Live Oak, about 65 miles from the rural area where the storm crashed into Florida’s coastline.
But Biden’s visit to the Sunshine State sought to call attention to two aspects of his presidency that Republicans could hammer in 2024: his alleged empathy and his fondness for taking time off from work.
Both were wrapped up in a single question he was asked in Live Oak.
During the press conference, according to The Blaze, a reporter asked Biden why he still has not visited East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a freight train derailment seven months ago that ignited one of the worst environmental incidents in recent memory.
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Biden had pledged to go shortly after the Feb. 3 accident, yet still has not gone.
“Well, I haven’t had the occasion to go to East Palestine. There’s a lot going on here, and I just haven’t been able to break,” Biden replied.
“I was thinking whether I’d go to East Palestine this week, but then I was reminded I’ve got to go literally around the world. I’m going from Washington to India to Vietnam. And so, it’s gonna be awhile,” he added.
“But we’re making sure that East Palestine has what they need materially in order to deal with their problems.”
At the time he was saying that, The New York Post reported that as of of Aug. 27, Biden has spent 40% of his presidency “on personal overnight trips away from the White House, putting him on pace to become America’s most idle commander-in-chief.”
The Post noted that his time off included all or part of 382 days of his presidency’s 957 days, as of Saturday, calculations made by the Republican National Committee but which were confirmed by the Post.
Biden surpassed the late former President George H.W. Bush’s record of 36%. Meanwhile, the rates for other former presidents were as follows: Donald Trump, 26%; Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, both 11%; and Jimmy Carter, 5%.
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In fact, The Blaze noted that Biden on Saturday was leaving Live Oak by 6 p.m. so he could spend Labor Day weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
With its usual deft touch of snark, the conservative website Babylon Bee recently posted a story on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, with a headline that read: “Nation torn between being mad Biden never shows up for work and being glad he never shows up for work.”
On the other hand, part of Biden’s campaign in 2020 focused on his supposed ability to empathize with the everyday American — something Trump allegedly lacked.
But time and again, he has shown that is not true, such as:
- Looking at his watch as flag-draped coffins were unloaded with the remains of troops killed by a terrorist during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan that he had ordered;
- His unwillingness to visit disaster-stricken East Palestine, where Trump went almost immediately;
- His “no comment” on reports that at least 100 people were killed in recent wildfires in Maui, and then claiming he understood such devastation by retelling the story of a small house fire he experienced nearly 20 years ago;
- Or staying 65 miles from the rural, blue-collar communities devastated by a major hurricane and then rushing off for another vacation.
As critics have noted, Biden almost always uses these incidents to make them about himself.
Writing for The Washington Examiner last month after the Maui visit, columnist Zachary Faria noted, “Biden’s empathy act is, and has always been, a fraud. He has exaggerated stories about his personal life for years to make them sound more tragic so that he could use them more often, trotting them out as a shield against criticism. …”
“Biden is a career-long fabulist, and nothing has been more fake than his unearned reputation for ‘empathy.’”
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