Levine “Democrats fret as Joe Biden becomes ‘irrelevant’ in coronavirus crisis”

OPINION

By Jon Levine | New York Post

Just days after his commanding primary victories in Florida, Arizona and Illinois, the coronavirus has turned former Vice President Joe Biden into a virtual prisoner of his Delaware home, where he’s reduced to sniping at President Trump from the family rec room.

“He’s making himself irrelevant,” Saikat Chakrabarti, a former chief of staff to Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, told The Post, saying the virtual broadcasts were not helping. “We need action immediately, and Biden can’t do anything real right now.”

Biden has been forced to watch from the sidelines as President Trump steals the spotlight with daily coronavirus briefings that have been a ratings smash.

Though some experts have criticized the president for spreading inaccurate information and promoting untested antibiotics during his briefings, polls suggest Americans are increasingly pleased with his performance handling the deadly pandemic.

The latest findings from Gallup show the president with a 49% approval rating, approaching a career high he last enjoyed in February during the height of his Senate impeachment trial. The same survey found 60% of Americans now approve of his handling of the coronavirus crisis, including more than a quarter of Democrats.

“I think Trump is being seen as handing the pandemic well by the public even though he was too late to start procuring any [personal protective equipment],” Chakrabarti said, explaining the polling bounce, adding that Biden missed his moment to make an impression. “[Trump] is the only one going up every day and talking to the American people.”

“[Trump] is the only one going up every day and talking to the American people.”

But Biden has gone nearly dark. Aside from a call with reporters, and a virtual live-stream appearance at a fundraiser on Sunday, the ex-vice president reappeared on television on March 24.

And his appearances have not gone smoothly.

On his first day back on the air, Biden sat for an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. During the brief Q&A, Biden coughed repeatedly into his fist shortly after telling the anchor he had no symptoms of coronavirus and had not been tested. At one point Tapper even scolded the vice president for not directing coughs into his elbow.

The coughing came along with the usual Biden word salads. On “The View” that same day, the former veep told guest co-host Sara Haines that “we have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse no matter what.”

He also had an emotional moment during a virtual CNN town hall Friday talking about personal loss and almost gave out his telephone number on live television.

Many Democrats and armchair pundits have unflatteringly compared Biden’s performance with Gov. Cuomo, who has won praise from both sides of the aisle for his smooth command of facts, regular virus updates and tough, no-nonsense approach to defiant New Yorkers. The fervor peaked as the hashtag #PresidentCuomo zipped across Twitter last week.

“He is currently the only Democrat showing leadership in a moment of crisis, at least publicly,” Chakrabarti said. “Cuomo is doing the daily press conference, he’s leading in a way that President Trump was.”

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