‘Poor old man. Just wants a porch and a rocking chair.’
The US president met the Israeli prime minister on Friday, with their conversation focusing on the two countries’ “historic partnership”, COVID cooperation, and the supposed “threat” to Israel and the Middle East “posed by Iran”.
“Sleepy Joe” trended on Twitter in the United States over the past 24 hours over a video showing US President Joe Biden looking like he’s literally fallen asleep during a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet during the latter’s Friday visit to the White House.
The viral footage, captured by CSPAN and other media and shared countless times, features a masked, almost completely motionless, Biden clasping his hands and slumped over with his eyes shut for nearly 30 seconds as Bennett drones on about writing “another chapter in the beautiful story of the friendship between our two nations”.
Users on CSPAN’s YouTube channel fumed over the footage, with one suggesting that the president could be replaced “with a paper cutout and a cassette recorder”, which “would have more presence and energy than Biden himself”.
“You can tell he’s not taking any of this in. He’s up there concentrating on not doing anything stupid. He couldn’t handle that, so he fell asleep instead”, another user wrote.
“Turns out ‘Sleepy Joe’ was a very well chosen nickname by Trump”, a third chimed in, referring to the former president’s epithet for Biden on the campaign trail in 2020.
“My dad used to do this. ‘Rest his eyes’ when he wasn’t engaged, but not fully asleep. Poor old man. Just wants a porch and a rocking chair”, one sympathetic user added.
Biden’s blue check defenders on Twitter rushed to dismiss claims that the president was catching some Z’s during his meeting with Bennett, with Politico and Washington Post journalist Lois Romano tweeting that he “did not fall asleep” and CNN reporter Daniel Dale suggesting that “this ‘Biden asleep’ stuff is nonsense”.
Dale pointed out that Biden’s hands were moving throughout Bennett’s monologue, and noted that he replied immediately as soon as the Israeli prime minister had finished talking.
The debate quickly degenerated into back-and-forth partisan debate, between Democrats and Republicans in the US and between Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu supporters in Israel.
Friday’s “Sleepgate” wasn’t the first time Biden has been accused of catnapping during public events, with detractors criticising him for it and others expressing compassion for him as a human being, while asking about his mental state and ability to run the country.
The Bennett-Biden meeting took place one day after the deadly bombing at Kabul Airport, in which over 180 people, including 13 US troops, were killed and hundreds of others were hurt. The bombings led the president to hold meetings with security staff over the next several days to determine the US response, which has included at least one drone strike against the Daesh-Khorasan* fighters who claimed responsibility.