Jen Psaki has master the art of explaining the inexplicable by answering an unasked question unrelated to the issue raised.
A recent example of that is a Sunday exchange between the White House Press Secretary and ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos.
The host of the network show “This Week,” asked the press secretary how President Joe Biden planned to reverse approval ratings that continue to drop like a rock.
Stephanopoulos cited a recent ABC/Washington Post survey where more than half of respondents doubted the president is mentally sharp enough to lead effectively. Stephanopoulos pressed Psaki on how the president might use Tuesday’s State of the Union Address to right his sinking ship of state.
“The president is approaching his State of the Union in a pretty difficult political position right now [with a] 37 percent approval rating and Democrats trailing badly in the midterm polling,” Stephanopoulos said. He opined Biden’s low approval numbers would have a devastating impact on Democrat party candidates in November midterm elections.
A senior policy advisor to former President Bill Clinton, Stephanopoulos pressed Psaki by asking how the president’s speech could address a perception by the majority of those polled who question the president’s mental capacity. He also wondered how much Biden’s State of the Union been changed by Russia invading Ukraine.
“You know, George, from covering State of the Unions for some time, that it is about delivering a message to the public at a moment in time,” Psaki replied. “And, if you look back when President Obama gave his first State of the Union, it was during the worst financial crisis in a generation.” She added former President George W. Bush gave his first SOTU shortly after
the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
“Leaders lead during crises,” the press secretary continued. “That’s exactly what President Biden is doing. He’ll speak to that, but he’s also going to speak about his optimism about what’s ahead and what we all have to look forward to.”
Although she never seemingly answered the earlier questions from the ABC host, she responded to a question about whether the U.S. should increase energy production by restarting the Keystone XL pipeline and granting more drilling leases.
“What this justifies in President Biden’s view is the fact we need to reduce dependence on foreign oil, on oil in general, and look at other ways of having energy in our country,” she said, adding the war in Ukraine was helping convince some European nations to become less dependent on Russian oil, as well.
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