It was one of Joe Biden’s shortest answers in his nearly-two hour press conference Wednesday.
It was also the worst.
He was asked, “How do you plan to win back moderates and independents who cast a ballot for you in 2020 but, polls indicate, aren’t happy with the way you’re doing your job now?” The President responded this way: “I don’t believe the polls.”
Which, well, what?
If you heard echoes of former President Donald Trump in that answer, you’re not alone.
“If it’s bad, I say it’s fake,” Trump said last year. “If it’s good, I say that’s the most accurate poll ever.”
And, back in 2018, Trump told a crowd this about the news more broadly: “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
That’s not to equate what Biden did on Wednesday with the four years of misleading and outright lying Trump did as president. They’re not the same.
And, my guess is that Biden was simply being glib in his response to a question about the polls. In fact, Biden referenced polling again in the same press conference.
“You know, every — every president, not necessarily in the first 12 months, but every president in the first couple of years — almost every president, excuse me, of the last presidents — at least four of them — have had polling numbers that are 44 percent favorable,” he said at one point.
So, Joe Biden believes in polling. This was a throwaway line aimed at dismissing a question he didn’t want to answer: Why are independents so unhappy with the job you’re doing?
But, the context matters here. Biden came to office amid an ongoing onslaught of truth and facts by Trump — about the 2020 election and just about everything else. Given that, he doesn’t have the luxury of being glib or dismissive of polling. Because there are already a whole lot of people in this country who believe that the last presidential election was stolen from Trump (it wasn’t) and who have been conditioned over the past few years to disbelieve anything that doesn’t affirm the views they already hold.
Sure, it’s easier to dismiss polling as useless than to admit that your numbers among independents aren’t great and you need to do a better job of reaching those voters between now and November. But, being president — especially after the four-year rolling crisis of Trump — isn’t about doing the easy thing. It’s about doing the right thing. And in this answer at least, Biden didn’t do that.