President Joe Biden went viral Monday afternoon following a hot mic moment after a White House photo-op.
As the news pool was being herded from the room, Fox News’ Peter Doocy got in one last question, shouting: "Do you think inflation is a political liability ahead of the midterms?"
"No, it's a great asset. More inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch," Biden deadpanned in response, likely prompting panic among his White House communications staffers.
Let’s leave aside, for now, the debate about civility that Doocy fans will want to have. Let’s also, for a moment, dodge the barrage of comparisons between Biden’s classic Washington gaffe and former President Donald Trump’s constant stream of invective toward journalists. Instead, let’s focus on a simple truth: Doocy’s question was a bad one.
Biden’s response, salty language aside, is appropriately sarcastic. Yes, it is a well-accepted political cliché that inflation is a bad thing when going into an election. People, for better or worse, blame the president for the cost of milk going up, so better to have that on the other party’s watch than yours.
Picking that question was asking the president to be a pundit, to handicap the coming horse race. Even if he’d answered it, it wouldn’t have offered any new information to the public about potential government action or anything else policy-related.
In case Doocy gets the chance for a mulligan anytime soon, here’s a list of potential questions for Biden, in descending order of likely value for the American public:
- “Do your economists foresee prices stabilizing anytime soon?”
- “Does the inflation rate mean unemployment is too low?”
- “What’s your administration’s message to people whose cost of living is increasing?”
- “How is your administration countering inflation?”
- “Does inflation change the scope of your agenda?”
- “What level of monthly inflation would you consider a crisis?”
- “What are you hearing from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell about inflation?”
- “Would you still support borrowing to pay for your agenda if interest rates rise?”
- “Do you agree with Sen. Joe Manchin that Covid-19 spending prompted inflation?”
- “When was your last meeting focused on inflation?”
- “Have you spoken to any of your predecessors about countering inflation?”
- “What is your secret plan to fight inflation?"
My bet is that White House press secretary Jen Psaki is going to be getting a lot of questions at her briefing Tuesday about Biden popping off. That’s going to include probing about inflation. Hopefully Doocy gives this list a skim to be better prepared this time around.