Jen Psaki: Biden's Like Trump? Like Trump How? Does He Amuse You? How The F*ck Is He Like Trump?
In yesterday's press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki mostly took questions about the ongoing negotiations over the Build Back Better reconciliation bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, mostly answering them by saying those negotiations are indeed ongoing and still making progress, and pushing back on questions implying Joe Biden's agenda is doomed, doomed, because did you miss the part about the negotiations still moving forward?
But Psaki seemed equal parts amused and annoyed by a question from New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear, who just wanted to know if voters had unwittingly reelected Donald Trump:
There've been a number of issues in the last, say, several weeks in which advocates, allies of the president are describing him as Trump-like, less in terms of his personality in sort of tone and tenor, obviously, but in terms of policy. Even today, representative of the Cuban government describing the frustration with the president continuing to maintain Trump-era policies vis-à-vis Cuba.
Psaki wasn't expecting that one, to be sure, and wanted to know who these Biden "allies"' were, and what the heck was Shear talking about? It was a pretty good parry of the old "people are saying" ploy, if you ask us.
Here's video of the exchange; ignore the dumb label; we could only find a clip of the full conversation on a wingnut Facebook page.
Mediaite helpfully explains that the comment Shear referred to came from Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, who suggested that an "inertia effect" was the reason Biden hasn't yet lifted sanctions on Cuba that Trump imposed. Fair point: Biden ought to! That doesn't make him Trump by a long shot.
Psaki didn't seem entirely convinced by the question's premise, in any case:
Psaki: So, just for the sake of argument here — not argument, but discussion — beyond the representative of the Cuban government who —
Shear: Afghanistan, immigration —
Psaki: Well, but who? Who are we talking about here? [...] Who is saying that the President is like Trump?
We would love to say that the conversation got more and more tense until Psaki revealed she wasn't actually mad at Shear, and then turned around and broke a bottle over a nightclub manager's head, but the actual outcome wasn't entirely different, except she used her words.
Shear fumbled a bit, saying he "could find you quotes," as Psaki asked him again for specific policies. He eventually settled on two: Biden had followed through on Trump's decision to pull the US military out of Afghanistan, and he's maintained the Trump administration's use of "Title 42" — a public health order that excludes most migrants from entering the US at the southern border. Trump's DHS had turned back all asylum seekers, while under Biden, families and unaccompanied minors with asylum claims have been processed. And yes, advocates for immigrants — and Yr Wonkette — have indeed criticized Biden for continuing the use of Title 42.
Prompted by another reporter, Shear also mentioned France's unhappiness over the US selling nuclear submarines to Australia; the French foreign minister apparently said Biden's handling of the deal was like something Trump would do. Psaki didn't buy that either, but her rebuttal wasn't at all interesting so we'll just skip it. (He also briefly mentioned keeping tariffs on China, but Psaki didn't respond to that one.)
Psaki wasn't impressed by either of the remaining Biden is Trump-like examples, either. On Afghanistan, she noted that the withdrawal from Afghanistan had actually been complicated by Trump's actions, pointing out that
the former President struck a deal without the Afghan government that, we heard the military convey yesterday, led to the demoralization of the Afghan Security Forces and the Afghan government, where he also released 5,000 Taliban fighters into Afghanistan.
I would say the President took a pretty different approach than that in ending a war that the former President didn't end — something the American people strongly support.
Psaki also could have pointed out that Biden ran on a promise to get troops out, so actually doing it was hardly Trumpian, but why pile on?
As for Title 42, Psaki didn't quite break a bottle of monoclonal antibodies over anyone's head, but her answer did the job:
Title 42 is a public health — is a public health requirement [...] because we're in the middle of a pandemic, which, by the way, we would have made progress on had the former president actually addressed the pandemic and not suggested that people inject bleach.
So, I think we're in a bit of a different place. I'm happy to discuss more examples. I think it's — people would be pretty hard-pressed to argue that the President has taken any aspect of the former President's playbook and used it as a model of his own.
We also enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek "fact check" from HuffPo's S.V. Dáte, reminding us that Trump's bizarre suggestion was even worse than just bleach:
Jen Psaki AGAIN says that Trump suggested people inject bleach. To be clear, Trump never specified bleach. He sugg… https://t.co/snjAcwXJhU— S.V. Dáte (@S.V. Dáte) 1633029025.0
Now don't get mad at Dáte for nitpicking; he is joking here, you. And as we all know, Trump supporters seem willing to put all sorts of weird garbage in their bodies, as long as it's not a vaccine, the end.
Yr Wonkette is funded by reader donations. If you can, please help out with a monthly $5 or $10 donation. It's not like money is just falling off a truck around here, you know?
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.