Democrats Rip Sen. John Cornyn for Asking If Biden 'Really in Charge' Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) speaks at a press conference on school reopening during COVID-19 at US Capitol on March 04, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Tuesday, 13 April 2021 10:09 AM
A tweet by Sen. John Cornyn wondering if President Joe Biden is "really in charge" struck a nerve with the president's defenders Monday.
In retweeting a Politico story about Biden's media strategy, Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote: "The president is not doing cable news interviews. Tweets from his account are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional. The public comments are largely scripted. Biden has opted for fewer sit down interviews with mainstream outlets and reporters."
He quickly followed up with: "Invites the question: is he really in charge?"
Although Cornyn's tweets received hundreds of retweets, likes, and replies by Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden during her press briefing, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
"I can confirm the president of the United States does not spend his time tweeting conspiracy theories," Psaki said. "He spends his time working for the American people."
Psaki's comments appeared directed at former President Donald Trump, whose tweets often were flagged as being false or misleading, and whose account was suspended after demonstrators attacked the Capitol to protest the 2020 election results.
Democrat lawmakers and political analysts took aim at Cornyn’s comments.
"You would think you would be lauding Biden for this," tweeted Matthew Dowd, an aide to former President George W. Bush. "So you are criticizing him for actually spending time on his actual job? Maybe you could consider doing that."
"Can the President govern without sending crazy tweets in the middle of the night, one of the highest ranking Republicans in the Senate asks? Yes, it turns out he can," Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia, tweeted.
"No one else in America is worried abt Biden’s Tweet game!" tweeted Rep. Marc Veasey, a Fort Worth Democrat. "The [Senate] doesn’t get it: it’s a relief that Trump and his tweeting are done!"
After a reporter noted Cornyn's initial tweet had quoted directly from the Politico article, Veasey replied: "Thanks. I posted the whole story so people can read it for themselves, and highlighted a couple of excerpts."
Veasey's tweets apparently later were deleted.
A spokesman for Cornyn fired back at critics, many of whom often criticized Trump's media strategy.
"In 2018, a Paul Waldman column ran in your publication entitled 'Is Donald Trump even in charge of this government?’” spokesman Drew Brandewie tweeted in response to a Washington Post analysis. "So it's OK when it's a Republican president, but not when it's a Democrat? Got it."
On Monday, Politico reported the White House media strategy is aimed primarily at keeping self-damage to a minimum.
"The president is not doing cable news interviews. Tweets from his account are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional," Politico said.
"The public comments are largely scripted. Biden has opted for fewer sit down interviews with mainstream outlets and reporters. He’s had just one major press conference — though another is coming — and prefers remarks straight to camera for the marquee moments. The White House is leaning more heavily on Cabinet officials to reach the audiences that didn't tune into his latest Rose Garden event."
Cornyn's tweets were not the first jabs aimed at Biden's low-profile style.
"Luck: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency," a new book released last week, dissects a campaign strategy of "you put your dumb uncle in the basement."
According to the book, former President Barack Obama was reluctant to endorse his former vice president, fearing he would be a "tragicomic caricature of an aging politician having his last hurrah," so he has to be shielded from harming his own campaign.