A new book on the 2020 election raises serious questions about President Joe Biden's temperament, citing the "cranky" septuagenarian's "willingness to unleash" his fiery temper, especially at the expense of young staffers who dared to speak their minds.
"Biden's temper, and his willingness to unleash it in small group settings, was one reason the people closest to him often avoided pushing him too hard to change his ways or take a particular course of action," write journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency.
Biden's so-called Irish temper, a term the president himself often uses despite its racially charged nature, tended to erupt at younger aides. Greg Schultz and Kate Bedingfield, both in their thirties, were "most likely to get their ears boxed for pushing back on Biden's ideas," the authors write. When he wasn't screaming at them, Biden "had a tendency to talk down" to the "delicate" youngsters.
The authors recount a meeting in early 2019 when a "visibly irritated" Biden "hollered at" and "unloaded on Schultz," who had (rather ironically) advised the candidate to "adjust his tone with younger voters." These new details about Biden's inability to take constructive criticism without lashing out raise serious questions about his fitness to serve as commander in chief and could prompt a discussion about invoking the 25th Amendment.
"Ultimately, Biden made his own decisions, and got cranky when they were made for him," the authors write. "Nobody wants to suffer one of his epic tongue-lashings." The candidate "didn't like to be questioned," which meant that even his most senior aides "conspicuously avoided confrontation" because no one wanted to be on the receiving end of Biden's rage.
Biden's volatile temper almost got the best of him, the authors report, during a July 2019 primary debate, when his future running mate, Kamala Harris, attacked him for befriending racist senators and promoting racist legislation. Biden was "pissed" and "steaming inside" following Harris's broadside, which would prove to be the high-water mark of her presidential campaign. During a commercial break, a seething Biden turned to his podium neighbor Pete Buttigieg and stammered, "This is just a bunch of bullshit!"
Lucky also contains new details about Biden's tumultuous relationship with former president Barack Obama, who was "enamored with" failed candidate Beto O'Rourke in the early stages of the 2020 primary but skeptical of Biden's ability to win. The New York Times previously reported that Obama had warned fellow Democrats not to "underestimate Joe's ability to fuck things up."