Washington Post columnist Max Boot insisted on Sunday that President Biden's call for a regime change in Moscow was deliberate, and rejected the media's use of the term "gaffe" to describe the remark—despite the White House walking it back shortly after the comments were made.
In a piece titled "Biden’s support for Ukraine and opposition to Putin were no ‘gaffe,'" Boot praised Biden for his speech in Warsaw, questioning the "uproar" over the off-script moment where the president appeared to call for a new regime in Russia, declaring that President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power."
The White House took less than an hour to walk back Biden's comment, with an official telling Fox News that "The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change."
Boot nevertheless gushed over Biden's speech as "a pitch-perfect call for Western unity in the face of Russian aggression" and predicted that "history will vindicate this Biden ‘gaffe’ in much the way that many historians have praised comments by President Ronald Reagan that were once seen as dangerously provocative."
"I understand the argument that Biden blundered because raising the prospect of regime change in Russia runs the risk that Putin might now fight all the harder," wrote Boot. "Certainly the fact that Biden’s aides rushed to walk back his remarks with lame explanations ('The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region,' one said) suggests that this was indeed a gaffe — one of many that Biden has committed over his long political career."
"Yet I wonder if perhaps history will vindicate this Biden ‘gaffe’ in much the way that many historians have praised comments by President Ronald Reagan that were once seen as dangerously provocative. Reagan called the Soviet Union an ‘evil empire’ and predicted it would wind up on the ‘ash heap of history.’ Those tough but true words contributed to raising superpower tensions in the early 1980s, but they also inspired many behind the Iron Curtain to fight for freedom. After the Berlin Wall came down, many saw Reagan as a visionary, not as a warmonger," he continued.
"Future historians might similarly vindicate Biden’s hope that Putin — whom he has accurately branded a ‘war criminal’ — will fall from power even though the United States apparently has no plan to remove Putin, just as in the 1980s the United States did not have any plan to topple the Berlin Wall."
Despite the White House clarification and subsequent media fallout, Boot credited Biden for delivering "an unequivocal message of support for the brave Ukrainians who are inflicting grievous casualties on the Russian invaders."
"'We stand with you,' he said. ‘Period,'" Boot concluded. "And he made clear that the United States would meet its ‘sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend each and every inch of NATO territory."