After Putin Meeting, a Biden Trait Shows Itself Again: Stubborn Optimism


GENEVA — Another American president may need been pissed off, and even offended.

Moments after spending greater than three hours on Wednesday across a table from President Biden at their first summit, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia delivered his common record of grievances to reporters.

He denied Russian culpability for cyberattacks concentrating on U.S. pursuits, accusing the United States of finishing up extra. He mentioned America’s human rights document was worse than his nation’s. And he accused the Biden authorities of a army buildup close to Ukraine.

It was classic Putin, and it appeared to strengthen the concept the high-profile diplomatic trade on the banks of Lake Geneva had finished little to vary a relationship that has deteriorated for years.

But if Mr. Biden was aggravated by his counterpart’s efficiency, there was no signal of it throughout his personal subsequent information convention, or at a later dialog with reporters below the wing of Air Force One earlier than he left Switzerland to conclude his eight-day, three-country diplomatic tour of Europe.

Mr. Biden’s response to his Russian adversary underscored a persistent characteristic of his presidency: a cussed optimism that critics say borders on worrisome naïveté and that allies insist is a vital ingredient to creating progress.

“The country has put a different face on where we’ve been and where we’re going — and I feel good about it,” Mr. Biden mentioned earlier than boarding his aircraft, chiding the information media for being too skeptical. “I mean, look, guys, I’m going to drive you all crazy because I know you want me to always put a negative thrust on things.”

The essential factor, he mentioned, is to “put on an optimistic front and optimistic face” whereas remaining sensible in regards to the prospects for actual change over the long term.

“If you were in my position, would you say: ‘Well, I don’t think, man, anything is going to happen. This is going to be really rough. I think it’s going to really be bad?’” Mr. Biden requested the reporters. “You’d guarantee nothing happens.”

Mr. Biden’s life has been crammed with sorrow and disappointment, together with the deaths of his spouse and daughter as a younger senator and the lack of his son Beau to most cancers simply because the older Mr. Biden was considering a run for the presidency. But regardless of the tragedies, a lot of his public life has been marked by a willpower to see the constructive the place others don’t.

To hearken to Mr. Biden at his information convention, one might simply conclude that the assembly with Mr. Putin had been a resounding success. The president famous an settlement with Russia to start work on a new arms-control agreement. The trick, he mentioned, is to determine what his adversary’s pursuits are. In Mr. Putin’s case, he desires “legitimacy, standing in the world stage,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “They desperately want to be relevant.”

That type of unrestrained positivity has already opened him to the cost that he’s naïve, unwilling to see the fact observing him throughout the desk. It may also elevate questions on whether or not he’s prepared to confront looming challenges: Russia’s aggression at NATO’s jap border, damaging cyberattacks from inside Russia and the nation’s worsening human rights document.

But Mr. Biden’s strategy is unlikely to vary. He has tried to set an optimistic tone since he entered the Oval Office. He has pushed for bipartisanship on passage of his home agenda, at the same time as many, if not most, of his allies in Washington are desperate to abandon the courtship of Republicans amid rising pessimism that it’s going to ever be consummated.

In his efforts to confront the coronavirus pandemic, he has commonly expressed a perception that Americans will emerge stronger and safer, whereas some well being consultants have been extra cautious of their predictions. Mr. Biden may be the final word cheerleader, as he was in his first deal with to Congress.

“It’s never ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America, and it still isn’t,” he mentioned that evening.

In overseas coverage, Mr. Biden is an old-school diplomat who locations his religion in face-to-face conversations just like the one he had with Mr. Putin on Wednesday and the various exchanges he had with different leaders on the Group of seven, NATO and European Union summits over the previous week.

At the G7, in addition to the NATO assembly, the president expressed his perception that allies once again had faith within the dedication of the U.S. authorities. Asked about issues that European leaders fearful about an eventual return of former President Donald J. Trump — or somebody like him — Mr. Biden waved the priority apart.

When it involves Russia, Mr. Biden and his high foreign-policy aides have insisted that they don’t need a “reset,” a time period that has come to symbolize the perceived naïveté of Mr. Biden’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, in his dealings with Russia and Mr. Putin.

But Mr. Biden’s reflection on his personal summit with Mr. Putin had the sensation of a type of reset, no less than in Mr. Biden’s telling. He went out of his strategy to insist that no threats had been made, no voices raised, simply a “positive” trade between two leaders who don’t belief one another but.

“We didn’t have to trust somebody to get Start II,” he mentioned, referring to the arms management treaty.

The solely time that Mr. Biden raised his voice throughout his information convention in Geneva was when Kaitlan Collins, a CNN reporter, requested him why he was assured that Mr. Putin would change his conduct. Mr. Biden, who was strolling out of the information convention, turned on his heels and lashed out.

“I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior. Where the hell — what do you do all the time?” he mentioned. “I said: ‘What will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world.’ I’m not confident of anything; I’m just stating a fact.”

Ms. Collins adopted up by difficult the president to justify his rosy outlook, citing Mr. Putin’s feedback.

“If you don’t know that,” he snapped, “then you’re in the wrong business.”

It was a harsh response supposed to push again towards the cynicism that the president dislikes. But it was additionally a recognition of types by Mr. Biden that his optimistic strategy is usually the goal of criticism.

After a temporary trip within the motorcade to the airport, Mr. Biden thanked supporters after which walked briskly over to the small group of reporters set to accompany him again to Washington.

Mr. Biden, referring to his remark to the CNN reporter, mentioned he owed an apology: “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave.”



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