Biden steps over VP Harris in rush to take credit for Israeli ceasefire; stress takes its toll

A ceasefire was announced Thursday between Israel and Hamas, and while that development could not have come soon enough in the eyes of many, there was no delay from President Joe Biden in taking credit for it and going on about how hard his administration worked on the effort.

Never mind that the ceasefire was reportedly an Egyptian-brokered deal that Israeli officials agreed to with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, who were getting pummeled by harsh retaliation for firing thousands of missiles into Israel.

“Over the last 11 days, I spoke with the prime minister six times. I’ve also spoken with President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority more the once and part of our intense diplomatic engagement,” Biden said Thursday from the White House, “And I want to also thank secretary of state, the secretary of defense, our national security adviser, and everyone on our team for their incredible efforts to bring this about, this outcome that we’re about to see.”

“You know, we have held intensive, high-level discussions, hour by hour, literally, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and other Middle Eastern countries, with an aim of avoiding this sort of prolonged conflict we’ve seen in previous years when the hostilities have broken out,” he added.

(Video: C-SPAN)

Egypt can take solace in that the president did commend them for their “critical role” in bringing the conflict to an end.

It would appear that rushing to take credit for favorable events is a common virtue in the Biden administration because Vice President Kamala Harris took to social media to let it be known that she played a hand in efforts leading to the ceasefire.

“I spoke with Jordan King Abdullah II to reaffirm our support and express our commitment to continued close cooperation,” Harris tweeted. “I briefed him on our intensive diplomatic efforts to support the path to a ceasefire in Gaza. The U.S. and Jordan will continue working to deescalate tensions.”

The problem here is that Harris undermines her boss with the tweet. Given what is at stake, shouldn’t the president be speaking with heads of state? After all, it’s a phone call.

While Biden didn’t speak with King Abdullah, he reportedly called Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and has said that he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu six times in recent days and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas more than once, in an attempt to end to the violence.

The president said the U.S. “fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas,” and, much to the chagrin of the radical left wing of the Democratic Party, he committed to help Israel replenish its defenses.

“I assured [Netanyahu] of my full support to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome system to ensure its defenses and security in the future,” Biden said.

In offering his “sincere condolences” to Israeli and Palestinian families who lost loved ones, Biden said the U.S. is committed to “working with the United Nations and other international stakeholders to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and to marshal international support for the people of Gaza and the Gaza reconstruction efforts.”

“We will do this in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, Palestinian Authority,  in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal,” he continued.

Thursday proved to be a busy day for Biden in that he did more than one thing. In addition to commenting on the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire, the president also delivered remarks at a bill signing ceremony for the Asian Hate Crimes bill.

Given his performance here, it’s fair to ask whether the stress of the violence in the Middle East had gotten to Biden, because at one point his tone quickly turned dark and he began randomly yelling like an angry old man.

In talking about how proud he was that the bill passed, he did his best Barack Obama impersonation to talk about “hope” as he referenced the Declaration of Independence, declaring that all men — Biden also slipped in the term “women” — are created equal.

It was at this point that he suddenly slammed his hand down hard on the lectern and began shouting.

(Video: NBC News)

“Every time we’re silent, every time we let hate flourish, you make a lie of who we are as a nation!” Biden said. “I mean it literally.”

Just as quick, he reverted to the hushed whisper he often employs for effect, “We cannot let the very foundation of this country continue to be eaten away like it has been in other moments in our history and happening again.”

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Tom Tillison

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