Politics - News Analysis
Joe Biden is Notorious for Always Being Very Late, But He Actually Has a Good Excuse
President Joe Biden isn’t exactly known for being a punctual kind of guy. Politico’s West Wing Playbook notes that if you’re a journalist, Biden aide, or a guest, you may as well tack on plenty of time to wait for him — maybe even as much as an hour.
Folks have developed a sense of humor over this.
“On the red lines schedulers put down, he is a habitual line-stepper,” said one former aide. Other aides have dubbed it “Biden Standard Time,” or if you’d rather — BST.
Biden has been known to be late for all sorts of meetings and events. He was, for instance, more than two hours late to a press conference in Switzerland. And in December, the president was so late to a stop-by meeting of the country’s mayors that then New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams had already left. At the much anticipated G-20 press conference, he apologized for being 20 minutes late by saying “We were playing with elevators. Long story, anyway.”
But one of the other things about Biden is that he wants to make sure he talks to everyone he sees standing in lines, which is really kind of lovely, but since he’s a bit on the verbose side, this makes him late for other meetings and after a while, things get backed up. So that’s led some of his aides to try to shorten the rope lines.
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Well, you can’t blame ’em for that, anyway.
But this isn’t the only reason he’s perpetually late. Biden is meticulous about preparing himself for meetings, according to sources. The meetings he holds to help him prepare for other meetings or his remarks can take more than an hour. He’s regularly joined by communications director Kate Bedingfield or press secretary Jen Psaki and experts with knowledge on whatever the meetings are going to be about.
“…Biden will go into Socratic seminar mode — pushing and prodding those briefing him with follow-up question after follow-up question. Sometimes the follow ups then require another meeting before a decision can be made. And he is known to tinker with speeches up to the last moment.”
But isn’t that kind of refreshing? Especially when you consider the last occupant of the White House didn’t want to prepare for anything ever unless it somehow served him personally? Or if it was something he could use for self-aggrandizement?
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for Biden’s tardiness is that he is first and foremost, a family man. He will take a phone call from a family member whenever and wherever — something that is ingrained in him after losing beloved members of his family, including his first wife Nielia Hunter Biden, and their one-year-old daughter Naomi in a tragic car accident decades ago, and of course, his son Beau who died on May 30, 2015.
Biden is in such close contact with his family that one of his granddaughters, Naomi said in a recent tweet that she had missed calls from her grandfather. “I could be better at answering my phone but I do wear a mask in public,” she said in a tweet that’s since been deleted.
After the tumultuous and scandal-plagued Trump years, this gives the White House a sense of the mundane, a sense of normalcy. And really, when it comes right down to it, I’m glad Biden asks a lot of questions. That’s what presidents are supposed to do.