President Biden’s persistent coughing and clearing his throat while addressing the public sparked questions at the White House briefing on Thursday about the health of the president — after he paused several times to clear his throat during his speech on tax hikes minutes earlier.
“Many of us were in the East Room watching the president, we’ve seen him on many occasions where he had a repeated cough. What is the situation with that cough and is it a concern?” asked NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell.
“It’s not a concern,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“We have a doctor who travels with him, obviously who checks in if it is ever warranted, and certainly that continues to be the case, as it has been since the beginning of his
I don’t think it’s an issue of concern. I think there are a range of reasons why we may need to clear our throat or we may have a little light cold, and that’s certainly something that presidents, elected officials, reporters, spokespeople can confront,” Psaki responded, ignoring the frequency with which Biden’s public comments have been interrupted by his phlegmy delivery.
“I know this is an understandable question. I don’t have an update. He will get one soon. And when he does, we will make sure you all are aware of it and get the information,” she said.
Biden, 78, often stops during speeches or public remarks to clear his throat.
It’s become so common that the hashtag #Bidencough exists on social media.
“Biden coughing, gagging and phlegm gurgling is making me ill. Every television speech full of this. Give the man water PLEASE,” one user wrote on Twitter after the president’s East Room speech.
After he coughed and was hoarse while speaking in December after the Electoral College confirmed his victory in the 2020 election, aides said he was suffering from a slight cold.
More recently, the president hacked at several points during a speech Monday in California in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recall election, causing him to apologize and even pause to take a sip of water.
During the presidential campaign, his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, told the Wall Street Journal that Biden is fit to serve as president, but also noted that he is being treated for high cholesterol, acid reflux disease and seasonal allergies.
Acid reflux often forces him to clear his throat, O’Connor said.
“This may also contribute to occasional cough and sinus congestion,” O’Connor wrote in a medical statement. “He has received endoscopy to rule out any more significant disease.”
It’s a strange thought, given how badly he botched the US withdrawal. But at least Afghanistan Joe had a clear idea about what we needed to do. COVID Joe has no such exit strategy. He’s making it up as he goes.
In his address unveiling his COVID plan, Biden failed to offer anything like an exit strategy or even a description of what victory might look like.
In fairness, one reason he didn’t is because he can’t. As with terrorism, permanent and total victory is impossible. As Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, explains: “SARS-CoV-2 will become an endemic virus settling alongside the other four strains of coronaviruses that circulate widely among us.”
In February, nine out of 10 leading immunologists, Joe Biden virologists and other experts surveyed by the British scientific journal Nature said it’s here to stay.
Part of Biden’s problem is that he already had his “mission accomplished” moment in July. And while it’s not his fault that the Delta variant wrecked his victory lap — and his poll numbers on his handling of the pandemic — his response is clearly improvised, probably counterproductive, and very, very political.
Last week, Biden issued a sweeping mandate that all private businesses with 100 or more employees require workers to get vaccinated or receive a weekly coronavirus test. The mere fact that the administration is using a nebulous and constitutionally problematic authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act suggests that it essentially rummaged around to find a power it didn’t think it had or would need.
Biden relishes this fight. He’s already achieved one of his goals — to change the subject from handing Afghanistan to the Taliban in time for the anniversary of 9/11. But the other political calculation is that he doesn’t need the support of people ideologically (and foolishly) opposed to getting vaccinated, but he does need the support of those who despise such people.