President Biden wins the day

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President Joe Biden has never shown any desire to arbitrarily dominate every news cycle, and he instead prefers to only make news on the days when he legitimately has news to make. That gets him in trouble sometimes with the media, which makes up narratives about him on the days he doesn’t give them anything. And it sometimes gets him in trouble with a reality show obsessed public. But on Monday, Biden served up a strong reminder that he’s good at this whole “presidenting” thing. Really good.

Biden showed up in Kyiv, Ukraine on Monday for a surprise meeting with President Zelenskyy. The move helped force the world’s focus back onto Russia’s illegal and inhumane invasion of Ukraine. It also helped bolster public support, in America and worldwide, for continuing to help defend Ukraine. And, importantly, it kept Vladimir Putin from having the day he wanted.

Putin was hoping to use the anniversary of his illegal invasion of Ukraine to give a big lie-filled speech and try to muddy the waters about who started this, who’s in the wrong, who’s winning, and so on. But Biden’s big visit to Kyiv ensured that Putin’s speech failed to get much attention or traction.

Putin loves nothing more than to publicly declare victory while a battle is still going on, in the hope it’ll demotivate his adversaries into giving up instead of continuing to fight against him. After a year of losing badly in Ukraine, Putin wouldn’t have been able to sell a Russian victory even if his speech had gotten widespread media attention. But Putin might have been able to succeed in falsely portraying Ukraine as being in such bad shape that some among the public might have lost interest in continuing to fund Ukraine’s defense.

President Biden, in his never flashy but always savvy fashion, managed to head this off entirely. Biden ensured that Monday’s news cycle was about himself and Zelenskyy and Ukraine, and not at all about whatever Putin wanted the news cycle to be about.

Of course Biden also made himself look strong and authoritative in the process. But savvy leaders know how to do the right thing and accomplish the right goals in a way that just happens to leave them looking good in the process. It’s how leaders lead. It’s how winners win. And it’s how President Joe Biden won the day.

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