Recently, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in the spotlight more for what didn’t he do than for what he did. Austin, as we previously wrote, kept the White House almost in the dark regarding his whereabouts, when he was in fact in the hospital recovering from major surgery after a cancer diagnosis.
It is important to note the Biden Administration’s approach to media inquiries about the man who should be leading the Pentagon at this moment. My colleague wrote previously that Biden was not informed of Austin’s condition by the Pentagon until Tuesday.
Austin, according to the White House, has Biden’s full support.
According to a U.S. official, Biden had a “cordial discussion” with his secretary of defense on Saturday night. The official stated that “the president has full trust and confidence” in Secretary Austin. A spokesperson for the National Security Council echoed this sentiment and noted that Biden is “looking forward to [Austin] returning to the Pentagon.”
Everyone in Washington knows that a President’s “complete confidence and trust” for a Cabinet Secretary comes just a nanosecond after the White House Chief of Staff makes the call to tell them to get off the field and pack their s***.
There’s also more. We saw on Friday that some of the traditional media were trying to report about this White House. A reporter asked President Joe Biden on Friday if Austin was still employed by the administration. Biden had been touring a shopping center near Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Biden, speaking to reporters outside Allentown, Pennsylvania as he toured businesses, said, “Yes” when asked if Austin’s failure to inform him of his condition was a mistake. When asked if he had faith in Austin’s leadership, he replied “I do.”
Austin, 70, is still hospitalized for complications resulting from his prostate cancer surgery.
Here’s his answer to the question:
“Do you have confidence in Secretary Austin?”
BIDEN: “I do.”
“Was it a lapse in judgment for him not to tell you earlier?”
BIDEN: “Yes.” pic.twitter.com/5pG0bxF7Os
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 12, 2024
It’s just not enough. Commander in Chief, you cannot accept a single-word answer about the lack of leadership at the Pentagon. Watergate is still ringing loudly in my ears: the crime was not committed, but the cover-up. Even those on the left are not silent about this scandal. We’ll watch to see what the ongoing rumblings of both Republicans and Democrats will lead us.