After K-Pop band BTS led Tuesday’s White House press briefing, economic adviser Brian Deese and Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced questions about the economy, gas prices, gun control, inflation, and student loans. In the case of Jean-Pierre, she continued using her briefing binder as a clutch.
Deese went first and dealt with mostly open-ended questions and softballs such as one from Team Biden potted plant Kelly O’Donnell of NBC about whether the recent pickup in administration outreach on the economy has been an “implicit…acknowledgement that you have not been telling the story of the economic picture in a way that has been satisfactory to the President.”
O’Donnell wasn’t any better with Jean-Pierre: “The President has talked about understanding — from his life experience — those difficulties, economic hardships, and so forth. Does he consider it a crisis for American families that prices are at this 40-year high?”
That, dear readers, is what speaking truth for power looks like. Instead of pressing for answers on why this or that is in poor shape, liberals love to frame their failures as a failure to communicate.
Prior to O’Donnell’s Deese question, the great Philip Wegmann of Real Clear Politics asked a real question about how he saw President Biden’s “plan to forgive as much as $10,000 in student debt relief” could impact “consumer spending” and thus “have a negative impact on inflation.”
Shifting to Jean-Pierre’s block, she played dumb when CBS’s Ed O’Keefe invited her to “clarify” a Biden falsehood form his speech on Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy’s graduation in which he claimed “he was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1965” even though that was the same year he “graduated from the University of Delaware.”
Jean-Pierre claimed she “did not hear that part of the speech” and would “need to read it myself” even though O’Keefe noted it was “right at the beginning…and there’s been a lot of writing about it since.”
Things didn’t let up for the former MSNBC political analyst as it was Doocy Time, which began with a simple question: “Canada is making it impossible to buy, sell, transfer, or import handguns anywhere in that country. Would President Biden ever consider a similar restriction on handguns here?”
Jean-Pierre retreated to her notes and meandered about other gun control proposals (including Biden’s demand there be a “ban on the sale of assault weapons”) before insisting “[h]e does not support a ban on the sale of all handguns, to answer your question.”
Doocy moved onto gas prices and the fact that gas prices are now above the minimum wage. Predictably, Jean-Pierre insisted Biden knows what it’s like to struggle as ordinary Americans are currently (even though Biden’s been part of the D.C. elite since 1974) and, in response to a Doocy follow-up, Russia and Vladimir Putin are to blame (click “expand”):
DOOCY: In some places in this country now, a gallon of gas costs more than people on the federal minimum wage are making in an hour. What does the White House want these people to do — to stop driving to work?
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President understands what it feels like. Deese just spoke — spoke about this. Brian Deese was just here and talked about how he understands what it means for people who are sitting at their kitchen table and see gas prices go up. He understands that feeling personally. Or seeing prices of grocery store — of grocery — of groceries go up in the grocery store. This is something that he is inherently aware of, and he is doing everything that he can…to make sure that we lower costs at the gas pump.
DOOCY: And you just mentioned Putin a few times —
DOOCY: — as a reason for recent inflation. Do you guys think that any part of inflation this year is because of President Biden’s spending plans, or is it all Putin’s fault?
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, what I can say is we are — and Brian just spoke to this: We are at a historic place when it comes to the economy, when it comes to unemployment being at the lowest that we have seen in some time, when it comes to the President creating more jobs in his first term — his first year than any other President — eight point — more than 8.5 million jobs….This is an unprecedented time with the war. And so that — that Putin has created and started on Ukraine. And so, we have seen — data has shown us, since — since these past couple of months — since the war, we have seen an uptick on gas prices.
Doocy wrapped with another basic question: “Does President Biden take any responsibility for his policies potentially contributing to inflation?”
Jean-Pierre replied with what could be described as reckless abandonment for basic grammar: “His policies has [sic] helped the economy gets back on its feet. That’s what his policies has [sic] — his policies has [sic] done.”
Later, Jean-Pierre had a much easier time thanks to gun control softballs from fellow leftists Mary Bruce of ABC, Jeff Mason of Reuters, and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post (click “expand”):
BRUCE: But these measures have been popular for some time. I mean, that’s not new to this most recent massacre. So, what is the President seeing, if anything, that makes him confident that this time will be different? I mean, we’ve heard him say that he thinks everyone is getting more rational about this. What has he seen from Republicans that gives him that gives him that sense?
MASON: Switching gears to gun control and to the meeting with the New Zealand Prime Minister today, the President mentioned what New Zealand has done on this issue. What does he think or what does the White House think the United States could learn from New Zealand on guns?
PAGER: As a candidate on the presidential campaign trail, he often said Republicans would have an epiphany after Trump was defeated, that they would “come to their senses,” in his words, and work with Democrats on certain issues. Many Democrats that you talk to say that that is an outdated view of the modern Senate, that the partisanship has increased significantly. Do you — does he still believe that there are 10 Republican senators willing to vote on some measure of gun reform? There’s criticism that that is — the view that Mitch McConnell and others are “rational Republicans” — given Mitch McConnell’s long and well-documented history of blocking any sort of vote on gun control throughout his leadership of the Republican Party.
And as Jean-Pierre left the room, she ignored an important question from the ever-vocal and sometime rude Simon Ateba of Today News Africa about a negative Team Biden story in Politico: “Do you know why Black people are leaving the Biden administration? Plenty of them left in the past few months.”
To see the relevant transcript form May 31’s briefing, click here.