Wednesday at 2:58 pm, President Biden took to the podium in the East Room and began remarks on supply chain bottlenecks that are causing shortages of consumer goods and threatening to make Christmas gifts late.
What Biden did not address is whatever bottleneck it was that caused him to be 38 minutes late for his 2:20 pm event. Nor did he apologize for keeping everyone waiting.
Perhaps he felt there was no need, because this is to be expected. From June 1 through the end of last week, Biden was an average of 22.4 minutes late for his publicly scheduled events, according to a Fox News tally. He sometimes keeps his audiences waiting an hour or more.
In June, Biden inexplicably arrived over two hours late (two hours and 38 minutes, to be exact) for a June 14 press conference in Switzerland on the coronavirus pandemic and NATO relations.
Curiously, he never provided a reason for the late arrival, though there was speculation it was due to a tweet sent out by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announcing his country would be joining NATO. The announcement was not confirmed by NATO or its members.
The month of August was particularly egregious. The president showed up an average of 34 minutes late for his events.
He arrived at an event alongside Vice President Kamala Harris with Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander civil rights leaders 45 minutes late.
He was 42 minutes behind schedule for a meeting with Latino community leaders at which he shared remarks about his economic agenda and immigration reform. The event also served as a commemoration for the second anniversary of the horrific 2019 mass shooting in El Paso.
Other events in the month included a bill signing event hosted at the White House, where he appeared 48 minutes late; an appearance at a virtual fundraising reception for the Democratic National Committee, where he arrived 30 minutes late; and a discussion of strengthening American leadership on clean cars and trucks, for which he was delayed a relatively benign 26 minutes.
In July, Biden showed up to one event over an hour late. “Let me begin by doing something no speaker should ever do — by apologizing. I got a little tied up in that other office I work in, Pat, and I apologize for keeping you waiting because I know you’re all as equally busy as I am,” he said at the signing ceremony for H.R. 1652, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021.
In September, the president attended an event to commemorate the Jewish High Holidays 20 minutes late, an event to deliver remarks in honor of labor unions 30 minutes late, and an event discussing the impacts of Hurricane Ida 40 minutes late.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
So far in the month of October, Biden has kept a better grip on his schedule, with nearly all appearances within eight minutes of their start time. But with Wednesday’s return to form, the move toward promptness may be, well, delayed.
Presidents vary in their commitment to being on time. Bill Clinton was well known for his dilatory ways by White House reporters, whose faces would sunburn in the Rose Garden while waiting for him to step outside the Oval Office.
But they could set their watches by his successor, George W. Bush, who would tell his staff, “Late is rude.” So they were all on the dot for their events too.
Perhaps Biden’s chronic lateness can be attributed to taking his time moving from one event to another, often personally meeting with attendees and sharing off-the-cuff stories. His personal touch, as much as it may bother those stringent schedules, has always been his trademark.
Or perhaps he’s just . . . late.