A former White House adviser said the Biden administration needs to start setting some big goals.
David Gergen said Biden failed to be a “teacher” and lead America on tough moral issues.
Gergen served in the White House under the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton administrations.
It has become “increasingly difficult” to see where President Joe Biden’s administration is working, and the White House needs to dramatically improve its messaging and posture, former White House adviser David Gergen said Sunday.
“From my point of view, at first I thought [Biden] was going to be a very consistent leader,” Gergen told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “Because I thought the empathy and understanding, and the inner strength that comes from dealing with setbacks in the crucible moments he lived in life, I thought they would do it for the presidency, toughen it up.”
“I think his heart is still in the right place, but it’s getting harder and harder to tell what the goals are here,” said Gergen, who has served four sitting presidents – Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
He said the Biden administration needs to “narrow down” its priorities to “two or three major goals” in home affairs and foreign policy and then focus on achieving them.
Responding to Zakaria’s comment that Biden is suffering from low approval ratings despite the popularity of his policies, Gergen said, “I don’t fully understand him. I think the message hasn’t been his strength.”
Gergen also observed that Biden often schedules his important announcements and speeches in the afternoon.
“If you really have something to say to the American people, do it in prime time. You know, we can manage 15 minutes, 20 minutes,” he told Zakaria.
On moral issues, Gergen said Biden needs to start leading the American people on them. “The role of the leader is to be a teacher,” he told Zakaria.
Gergen also cited former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s belief that moral leadership is “for the president to make choices and try to lead people on difficult issues.”
“And there hasn’t been a lot of that,” he added.
Regarding the 2024 presidential election, Gergen expressed concerns about the ages of the race’s two potential primary candidates – Biden and former President Donald Trump. Biden is currently 79, while Trump is 75.
“We’ve never been there before. I don’t think it’s healthy. The presidency is too complicated a place, and it requires good judgment,” Gergen said.
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