The Joe Biden Protection Team sprung into action on Wednesday as soon as the President finished his press conference after meeting with Vladimir Putin. MSNBC’s Chuck Todd gushed over “Professor Biden.” On CNN, Jeff Zeleny was enchanted by the Democrat... taking his jacket off.
A very impressed Todd reacted to Biden’s press conference by marveling, “At one point I wrote Professor Biden because I thought he was basically trying to be above it, be above the meeting.” The Meet the Press host enthused, “He clearly had a posture of — the phrase I want to use which is pragmatic diplomacy.”
Todd’s colleague Kasie Hunt was equally excited, lauding, “So that phrase ‘rise above’ is exactly the one I was going to use.”
Over on CNN, Jeff Zeleny sounded like a Biden 2024 campaign, hyping the Democrat for taking his jacket off in the heat. Somehow, Zeleny also decided this meeting was the whole reason Biden ran for president:
He certainly he was comfortable in that moment, taking off his jacket, answering these questions from top foreign policy reporters in the audience that he doesn't always call on. Wolf, as we assess this trip, this is why Joe Biden ran for president. This is why he decided to come back into the arena, to challenge former President Donald Trump, because he wanted to strengthen the transatlantic alliance.
This is the same Zeleny who, in 2009, asked Barack Obama what "surprised, troubled, enchanted and humbled" him about the White House.
Partial transcripts are below. Click "expand" to read more.
CHUCK TODD: I was about to use the phrase pragmatic diplomacy, and then we got a somewhat — I think the president got his back up there a little bit, Kasie —
KASIE HUNT: He was angry.
TODD: — about the implication that somehow he was expressing confidence that Putin would change his behavior. And then pretty dismissive of the follow-up question as if “you don't understand how diplomacy works.” And I think — I feel like that was him saying — and there's perhaps going to be some -- we had some folks in our ear who said he really has to push back on the what-aboutisms and he has to do this, and some saying maybe he didn't do it. He clearly had a posture of — the phrase I want to use which is pragmatic diplomacy, like, “look, he is who he is. We know where we stand. I think I know where he stands. We expressed this and we'll see what happens, right?” It was this, “I'm not going to sit here and say it's going to go great, but I still believe in this one on one.” Look, he tried to embrace the areas where he thought Putin did want to embrace as well. It was — it's just an interesting posture. I viewed it -- at one point I wrote Professor Biden because I thought he was basically trying to be above it, be above the meeting and explain, “Guys, he's got a game, the Russians have this China issue, they think we have a China issue, essentially? Russia is going to have a China issue soon.” I actually thought for quite a while it was very effective.
HUNT: So that phrase "rise above" is exactly the one I was going to use, because he even walks out onto the stage, looks at the reporters and says, “Oh, I just finished my last meeting. I know you guys were most interested in this one but I had all these other meetings.” That was so carefully choreographed to show he was em embracing our allies in a way the previous administration, the previous president didn't. He kept using the phrase "Strategic ability," basically trying to rise above all the ways in which Vladimir Putin was trying to get a rise out of him, create his own reality. He had a very brief answer response on January 6 which of course Putin raised, even when he was talking about cyber-crimes. Putin came out there and said, “oh, we're not even on the list of people who are engaged in this.” Obviously not the case, but Biden tried to rise above it. At the end there, that flash of anger, I thought, was extraordinarily telling in that he had sort of kept his cool all the way up until then, and then, of course, he finished his list of actual reporters. He could never quite get off the stage without trying to take that last question.
JEFF ZELENY: He did not go point by point rue butting everything that Vladimir Putin said. There was a discussion among White House aides what he should talk about, but in the end he talked about essentially what he had planned to going into it. You know, certainly he certainly he was comfortable in that moment, taking off his jacket, answering these questions from top foreign policy reporters in the audience that he doesn't always call on. Wolf, as we assess this trip, this is why Joe Biden ran for president. This is why he decided to come back into the arena, to challenge former President Donald Trump, because he wanted to strengthen the transatlantic alliance.