For the umpteenth time, President Joe Biden’s staff has whirled into overdrive to walk back some disturbing or dishonest comment he has made.
This time it was over the possibility of nuclear annihilation.
Last week Biden told high-powered Democratic donors gathered for a closed-door meeting that the U.S. and the world at large have not been this close to a nuclear conflict in 60 years.
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since [President John F.] Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis,” Biden told his audience. He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin, was “not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”
One issue generated by such a comment is why Biden would share that news privately with his well-heeled supporters, but not the American people.
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On Sunday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby beat a hasty retreat from Biden’s comments.
“His comments were not based on new or fresh intelligence or new indications that Mr. Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons,” Kirby told ABC News. “Quite frankly, we don’t have any information that he has made that kind of decision. Nor have we seen anything that would give us pause to reconsider our own strategic nuclear posture.”
Yet Kirby’s attempt to calm the nation seemed undermined by the administration’s own actions.
Last week, one day after Biden’s remarks, Reuters reported that, “The U.S. government this week bought $290 million in supplies of a drug designed to treat blood cell injuries following radiological and nuclear emergencies as part of what it said were long-standing efforts to prepare for potential health impacts from threats to national security.”
A Department of Health and Human Services announced the deal for the drug, Nplate, on Tuesday, saying it was part of “long-standing, ongoing efforts to be better prepared to save lives following radiological and nuclear emergencies.”
The media picked up on the Biden administration’s narrative. US News & World Report called the deal for Nplate “coincidental” with and “unrelated” to Putin’s threats to unleash his tactical nuclear inventory.
Reuters said it was told that the purchase was “part of ongoing efforts to prepare for a wide range of threats including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and emerging infectious diseases.”
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NBC News declared that the order was “no big deal.”
Yet NBC also noted that the HHS “didn’t comment on when the decision to order the drug was made or whether it predated the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.”
Someone is not being honest here, and although Biden has a long history of lying and plagiarism, it’s troubling that his staff won’t explain in more detail why it decided to announce this purchase now.