Psaki on Biden's biggest foreign accomplishment: Uh, let me get back to you

Can’t blame her for whiffing on this question. What the hell could she say?

Watching the clip feels like a stress dream, when you’re suddenly back in school and being made to take a test you haven’t studied for. Name Joe Biden’s biggest foreign policy accomplishment.


I’d wake up screaming, drenched in sweat.

She handled it as deftly as any human could, coolly declining to answer by insisting that she’d have to confer with her boss first.

What foreign policy “accomplishment” of any sort does he have over his first year besides an impressively disastrous botched withdrawal from Afghanistan? That cost 13 American soldiers their lives and cost Biden a degree of job approval he’s unlikely to ever get back.

Are there any actual foreign policy accomplishments to speak of? The AUKUS deal is something, I guess. So long as you overlook the fact that it damaged our alliance with France and was so badly handled diplomatically that Biden himself had to acknowledge it publicly.

It looks like the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which the White House had been trying to bottle up in Congress, will make it to Biden’s desk for signature after all following pressure on Democrats from China hawks on both sides. Not a game-changing win but a win nonetheless.


Speaking of which, this tweet from RCP’s Tom Bevan caught my eye since Bevan isn’t usually inclined to tout good news for Dems. Is Sleepy Joe … waking up? Just a little?

I’m skeptical. Nothing’s happened lately that would explain even a minor Biden revival. A new variant is descending on America. Inflation still reeks. Labor shortages abide, affecting the supply chain. And instead of acknowledging reality, the White House continues to try to convince the public that this economy kind of rocks:

The challenge begins with a disbelief of sorts among Mr. Biden’s economic advisers. They insist the job market, with a 4.2 percent unemployment rate, has never been better, delivering wage gains for lower-paid workers that Mr. Biden believes will help lift more people into the middle class. They say those benefits will endure for years, even once inflation, which last -month accelerated at its fastest pace in 40 years, cools down…

White House officials say they have no plans to shift Mr. Biden’s messaging on economic issues, even as poll after poll shows his approval ratings in decline and voter worry over inflation swamping all other views of the economy. Their strategy remains focused on stressing the administration’s work to spread vaccinations and end the pandemic without further lockdowns, cheering the nation’s progress in economic growth and promising that Mr. Biden’s policies will bring down prices for oil, food and consumer goods…

Administration officials have consistently underestimated the size and persistence of price increases throughout this year, declaring at regular intervals that they would abate as various pandemic-related challenges worked their way through the global economy.


Assuring people that the rising prices cannibalizing their wages are a sign of good economic health is … a take, I guess. Not a good take. Not a take that’s going to help them hang onto Congress. But a take.

If you look more closely at RCP’s poll tracker, you’ll see that Biden’s being helped by an outlier poll from Reuters that has his approval all the way up to 48 percent while most others have him in the low 40s. That probably accounts for his apparent improvement in the average. Over at FiveThirtyEight, which weights its polls, his numbers are more stagnant:

Jen Psaki was asked about rising prices lately, the issue that’s likely done more than any other to hold down Biden’s approval post-Afghanistan. Conveniently, instead of focusing on systemic supply chain problems or Democrats’ foolish COVID stimulus this past spring, she had a villain at hand to blame:

That’s Elizabeth Warren’s line too. If meat conglomerates are artificially driving up prices one would think that some defector among them might try to undercut the others and steal their consumer base by lowering prices instead, but the “evil cartel” theory of America’s inflationary problems plays better politically. Maybe it’ll be worth an extra tenth of a point to Biden’s “improving” job approval.


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