Biden Clears NBC’s Low Bar at UN: ‘Normal,’ ‘Standard,’ ‘Good Speech’

Joe Biden hit the low standards that NBC apparently has for the Democrat on Tuesday, politely praising his speech to the United Nations as “normal,” “standard” and “good.” The reporters were clearly doing their best to offer the standard liberal media talking points expected for a Democratic President. However, Richard Engel and Andrea Mitchell also offered some concern and doubt in the wake of the Afghanistan disaster.  

The speech  focused more on climate change than Afghanistan. But for Engel, it hit all the liberal buttons: “This was a normal speech. We can disagree on some of the points. But this was a normal, standard outlining of American priorities about democracy, about internationalism, working with our allies.” He contrasted, “Last time, President Trump said, ‘No other president has gotten more done in two years.’ And people started laughing.” 

Normal being his bar, Engel touted, “And this was a much more standard speech.” Later, Chuck Todd promoted, “I thought it was a very good speech. One that should reassure allies.” He then insisted that, in order to get things done internationally, Biden must crush — not the Taliban — but Trumpism: 

Part of that is also having that means you successfully pushed back at Trumpism and authoritarianism in this country and then can speak on the world stage in democracy. 

But, clearly, the journalists knew that the U.S. is in a bad place, even if they don’t quite want to admit it. Engel worried, “[Biden] talked, specifically about the ability to fight terrorist propaganda. That one statement, that sort of raised my eyebrows a bit, because right now what is happening in Afghanistan is terrorist propaganda. The terrorists around the world are incredibly inspired.” 

He fretted, “Afghanistan is a big beacon showing that militant forces, that extremism can win, can push the United States out and that is an inspiration for a lot of extremists.” Even Andrea Mitchell conceded: 

His message has been America is back, that’s what he first said at the NATO meeting, that’s what he is saying today. This, of course, is undermined to a certain extent to the flap with the French over the submarine deal with Australia that he is now in a tense situation with America’s oldest ally, the French, withdrawing the ambassador, so that does color that. It casts a shadow over this.

But don’t worry. This is all very “normal” and “standard.” And that’s the key takeaway from journalists. 

NBC Live coverage of Biden UN speech
9/21/2021
10:38 AM ET

LESTER HOLT: President Biden concluding about a half hour long speech, his first speech to the U.N. General assembly saying that “we stand at an inflection point in history. He made the commitment the U.S. would lead the world for all people. Joining me now is NBC’s chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, and NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel. And Andrea, I’ll start with you, one of the last words, “we will not go it alone.” What a contrast to the last administration and its message to this body.

ANDREA MITCHELL: His message has been America is back, that’s what he first said at the NATO meeting, that’s what he is saying today. This, of course, is undermined to a certain extent to the flap with the French over the submarine deal with Australia that he is now in a tense situation with America’s oldest ally, the French, withdrawing the ambassador, so that does color that. It casts a shadow over this. But this speech was all about alliances, he said specifically, as we turn to the Indo-Pacific, meaning toward China, he tried to assuage European fears that he is turning away from Europe. He said “We will do it with our allies” and partners and that was as close as he came to trying to reassure the French and others in Europe that he is not ignoring them because what they say is an increasing military threat from China.

I think what really distinguishes him was saying war, the use of military force will be our last choice, not our first, that after 20 years in Afghanistan, casting this withdrawal in the best possible light, that the war is over, not talking about all of the challenges  that go with it, the continuing challenges, saying that we still deter terrorism but we’ve already shown it is very, very difficult to do it without boots on the grown, without the intelligence. But the big emphasis, I think, is on climate. That was the huge emphasis. We have got to deal with it, climate. We can’t waste anymore time. That’s the future. Climate, dealing with the next pandemic, as well as Covid, and also cyber and the future threats. This was Joe Biden trying to cast himself as the future leader and reassure allies at the same time.

HOLT: Richard Engel, you’ve been in and out of Afghanistan several times in the last few weeks. The President spoke as a virtue that he’s the first American President in 20 years to stand at that podium and not be leading a country at war.

RICHARD ENGEL: So, you noticed, Afghanistan was quite deep into the speech and these speeches, they all get printed out. They get taken home to all of the individual countries. So he’s not really addressing the American audience this in speech. It is kind of an agenda of what his administration sees as priorities. And it’s, like in a newspaper article, you put the headlines first and then it gets less and less important the further down you go.

And at the top of the speech, clearly, it was about Covid and about climate. Buried further down, there was some talk about Afghanistan, talk about terrorism, and he talked, specifically about the ability to fight terrorist propaganda. That one statement, that sort of raised my eyebrows a bit, because right now what is happening in Afghanistan is terrorist propaganda. The terrorists around the world are incredibly inspired. President Biden didn’t use the word in this speech, he always talking about terrorism me metastasized, like it’s some sort of cancer. So we don’t have to be just in Afghanistan, because the cancer has spread to other places, and therefore we can deal with it from afar and try and drone strikes and move around. But unfortunately, I don’t think the metastasis of cancer is the right analogy here. It is more like a lighthouse and Afghanistan is a big beacon showing that militant forces, that extremism can win, can push the United States out and that is an inspiration for a lot of extremists.

So he talked about a lot of different subjects, sort of in order of priority. But like Andrea, I think the big take-away was how different this was from President Trump and I think that was really what he was trying to talk about. If you remember when President Trump talked about, he got – laughed at. President Biden, this was why he got elected. This was a normal speech. We can disagree on some of the points. But this was a normal, standard outlining of American priorities about democracy, about internationalism, working with our allies. Last time President Trump said, “No other president has gotten more done in two years.” And people started laughing. And he started laughing with them because he thought they were laughing with him. They weren’t. And this was a much more standard speech.

CHUCK TODD: So what struck me is his tone today would be just as similar if he were giving a domestic speech about his own agenda that he’s got to get done in congress. And the reason I compare the two, because ultimately, the President’s credibility on the world stage, as a leader in solving Covid and climate, depends on him being able to convince us domestically to focus on Covid and climate. I mean that is sort of the struggle here. What he says and the struggles we’re having in our country, and what he is saying he wants to see in the world, I think in order to get that credibility in the world stage, he’s got to show that he is successfully, essentially turned the corner here domestically, on both of these issues, and part of that is also having that means you successfully pushed back at Trumpism and authoritarianism in this country and then can speak on the world stage in democracy. Look, I thought it was a very good speech. One that should reassure allies. But to me, it also was a reminder of the challenges, in order to have that credibility internationally, he’s got to show that he can turn the ship here in this country on those two big issues of Covid and climate. 

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