Foot-in-mouth Jen Psaki is the perfect spokesperson for gaffe machine Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden has dug deep into the Obama administration’s personnel file, tapping the gaffe-prone Jen Psaki to serve as White House press secretary. Her first post-appointment tweet showed little has changed.
Psaki celebrated her new role on Sunday by gushing about the “talented, battle-tested communicators…also all women” Biden had picked for his communications team. Lest anyone forget why the name Jen Psaki rings a bell in the first place, she mis-tagged one of her coworkers in the tweet, prompting a correction.
The White House press secretary role will have Psaki in the public eye more often than her post in the State Department, but gives her fewer opportunities to make facepalm-worthy geographic faux pas. Whoever picked her was apparently aware of her weak points. After all, it’s not every day a US government official suggests Russia imports natural gas from the EU – one would think with all the sanctions the Nord Stream pipeline has been threatened with, they’d at least know which direction the gas is flowing.
And while she’s presumably looked up what “carousel voting” means by now, after admitting she was unfamiliar with the term in 2014 despite condemning its alleged use in eastern Ukraine, the 2020 election has brought all kinds of obscure new voting terminology into the news cycle for her to slip up on.
The Biden team is treating the election as settled, but incumbent President Donald Trump and his lawyers have a majority of Republicans fired up with talk of releasing Democrat-slaying (metaphorical) Krakens. Psaki’s blunders may have made her seem relatable under Obama, but they’re likely to make her seem in over her head under Biden – a leader whose mental faculties have already been called into question.
Indeed, Biden and Psaki make a perfect pair in one sense – both are legendary for their inability to express themselves coherently, though Biden’s own ‘gaffes’ have gotten much worse over the course of the 2020 electoral cycle. He’s referred to his running mate Kamala Harris’ husband as “Kamala’s wife,” frequently forgotten what state or town he’s in during campaign events, told a largely minority audience that “poor kids are just as smart as white kids,” and famously dribbled off into nonsense when trying to quote the Declaration of Independence. Next to Biden, Psaki looks positively suave.
The Biden team has vowed to resume daily press briefings, curtailed by Trump in a fit of media-induced pique. Will Biden regret pushing Psaki back into the spotlight – as opposed to giving her her old job as White House comms director back – if she starts an international incident by mistaking Iraq for Iran on live TV? Given the cabinet of war hawks Biden’s team has scooped up, she might want to take some time to bone up on her Middle Eastern nations, as the incoming secretary of defense, Michele Flournoy, is unlikely to waste any time re-invading Syria and Afghanistan, if not Iran.
The newly minted press secretary’s talent for doublespeak is likely to come in handy, though. Psaki famously responded to the overthrow of the elected Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi – refusing to say whether it was a coup – with “we have determined that we do not need to make a determination.” At least her frequent pleas of “let me go back and check” during press briefings will provide some comic relief.
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The Biden camp has seemingly pulled out all the stops to give the appearance of a third term for Barack Obama, with a heaping spoonful of wokeness on top. Hailed as the “most diverse cabinet in US history,” the incoming administration does check all the demographic boxes, except diversity of opinion. Not merely Psaki and Flournoy, but fellow Obama alumni and treasury secretary pick, Janet Yellen, the secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, climate czar John Kerry, and numerous others have been plucked out of their plush think tank fellowships and beckoned back to Washington, where they can get back to the task of making America great again, again, by invading anyone who disagrees.
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