As the administration of President Joe Biden continues to struggle in handling multiple issues involving the country, the president himself seems to have stopped making visibility one of his top priorities.
The media was only notified two months later that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg took parental leave in the middle of August to take care of his newborn twins. Buttigieg’s office revealed to Politico last Thursday that he was “mostly offline” for the month unless “major agency decisions” needed to be made. The office also said that his activities have started ramping up in recent weeks.
Pete Buttigieg was completely unqualified to serve as Secretary of Transportation. But Biden still picked him.
Now, Pete is absent during a transportation crisis that is hurting working-class Americans.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 11, 2021
During his leave, Buttigieg did not leave anyone as interim secretary, even though disruptions to supply chains across the U.S. have caused shelves to be empty right before the crucial holiday shopping period. On Sunday, he revealed to CNN that these disruptions are expected to persist until next year.
On Monday, regarding the matter, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said Buttigieg was “completely unqualified” to work as Transportation Secretary. He then pointed out how Buttigieg is absent while a transportation crisis that severely hurt working-class Americans is ongoing.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tried to defend Buttigieg on Twitter.
On Friday, Psaki tweeted:
Also proud to work in an Administration that is fighting to make paid leave a reality for everyone, and with people like @SecretaryPete who are role models on the importance of paid leave for new parents https://t.co/Zby6W6XoNo
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) October 15, 2021
However, the Transportation Secretary isn’t the only member of Biden’s Cabinet who faced criticism for having absences.
Earlier this month, Vice President Kamala Harris went to Palm Springs, citing a “private family matter,” according to officials. She spent one night at an unrevealed location in the area, but no reason was revealed for the trip.
In March, Biden put Harris in charge of handling “the root causes” of the ongoing southern border crisis. In connection to this, the vice president has constantly received criticism for not going to the border region, except for a brief visit back in June in El Paso, Texas. Following her trip to Palm Springs, Harris chose to head to New Jersey instead of going with State Secretary Antony Binken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as well as Attorney General Merrick Garland for high-level security talks held in Mexico City.
On the other hand, last Sept. 17, Biden and first lady Jill went to Rehoboth Delaware, reportedly to spend a quiet weekend attending church service and going on bike rides. That same day, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who serves as the commander of U.S. Central Command, revealed that a drone strike against ISIS on Aug. 29 actually killed ten innocent civilians in Afghanistan, not the terrorists.
At that time, Biden was already under heavy criticism for the way he handled the evacuation of U.S. military troops from the country. The president has defended his withdrawal plan repeatedly, but up to a hundred Americans and thousands of Afghan allies remain stranded in Afghanistan. Since then, Biden has seemingly tried to avoid cameras during the initial drawdown, choosing to watch the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15 at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
Blinken was also on vacation in the Hamptons a few days before the fall of Kabul, the day Taliban insurgents have finished retaking Afghanistan 20 years following their ouster.
Similar to many other American officials, Blinken had to be summoned back from his holiday when things swiftly deteriorated in the Middle Eastern country.
Even Psaki had an “out of the office” email being sent out for one week, which started on the same day as Kabul’s collapse. However, she returned to the White House the following day.
The vice president, who had said she played a crucial role in Biden’s decision to pull back from Afghanistan, seems to have stayed relatively silent regarding this issue. She instead went on her first official Southeast Asia visit – a totally unrelated trip.
Many on the internet have slammed the Biden administration's officials regarding their absences.
The Buttigieg Scandal is much worse than people even realize. Not only was a Cab Secy on secret leave during a nat’l crisis impacting MILLIONS for which he had prime responsibility, but Biden evidently failed to appoint an Acting Secretary to run DOT—even as the crisis exploded.
— Stephen Miller (@StephenM) October 15, 2021
Biden, Blinken, and Psaki all went on vacation during the biggest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam. Buttigieg is out during a supply chain disaster that will cripple this economy.
It’s the Vacation Administration.
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) October 16, 2021
The questions to ask Transportation Secretary Buttigieg are quite simple: How many ports in California or Georgia or New Jersey have you visited? How many port operators and trucking executives have you met with in person? Who served as acting director during your extended leave?
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) October 16, 2021