When President George H.W. Bush looked at his watch during the second debate of the 1992 campaign, it probably ensured his “second-place finish” on Election Day. The gesture expressed  disinterest, even if that wasn’t the intent.

And it is the reason political consultants of every stripe — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, vegetarian — advise candidates and officeholders to avoid that action in public or in front of cameras. 

Joe Biden followed suit the final Sunday of August at Dover Air Force Base. The commander-in-chief checked his watch during the solemn return of the remains of 13 Americans. Even worse, Biden looked at his watch repeatedly — diminishing the dignity of the ceremony known as the “dignified transfer.”

The father of one of the fallen — Darin Hoover, whose son, Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover was killed along with a dozen others during the terror bombing of Kabul Airport — said Biden checked his watch 13 times.

“That didn’t just happen once; that happened on every single one who came out of that airplane,” Hoover said during a TV interview. “They would release the salute and he’d look down at this watch. On every last one. All 13 — he looked down at his watch.”

Things did not improve when Mr. Biden subsequently met with the new Gold Star families. In an apparent attempt to empathize with the parents of the fallen, the president recalled the passing of his older son, Beau. While Beau Biden served in Iraq, he did so as part of the administrative and legal team in the Army’s judge advocate general’s corps — not as part of a combat unit. 

Moreover, he served his tour of duty during portions of 2008 and 2009. The younger Biden was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013 and died in 2015. While certainly tragic, Beau’s death at age 46 occurred under very different circumstances. Taylor Hoover was the eldest at 31; the others were in their early 20s.

Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui died at age 20; his mother’s grief turned to anger during her encounter with Joe Biden. Shana Chappell later posted this on Facebook:  “(Y)ou tried to interrupt me and give me your own sob story and (I) had to tell you, ‘This isn’t about you so don’t make it about you!!!’” 

The post became more passionate and profane.

“You do not have the right to tell me how I feel! U then rolled your (expletive) eyes in your head like you were annoyed with me…”

Facebook officials were certainly annoyed with Shana; they censored that post and others on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Subsequent press inquiries prompted the social media sites to restore Ms. Chappell’s accounts.

The full functionality of the Biden administration is AWOL and has been since inauguration day. The chief executive is cognitively impaired; the vice president laughs often and at inopportune times. But the incompetence has been brought into sharp focus by the debacle in Afghanistan.

The secretary of defense is all for diversity and inclusion — except for Caucasian conservatives. The chairman of the joint chiefs fancies himself an intellectual warrior — but in reality is neither; and Secretary of State Blinken is at least well named, as he often blinks at the first sign of confrontation.

It would be comic were it not so tragic. A departure so disorderly that Americans were stranded, while unvetted Afghans will come to a neighborhood near you.

A plan so poorly formulated that it leaves billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry and aircraft in the hands of savage warriors who will couple their 6th century sensibilities with 21st century lethality.

A strategy so senseless that it introduces a protective force, not to find and protect American citizens but to spend its time in force protection in a place so indefensible that it attracts a terror attack in which 13 Americans are killed.

The Communist Chinese “president” doesn’t have to worry about debates… or elections. When he checks his watch, he may say about the USA, “Time’s up!”