By C. Douglas Golden October 20, 2021 at 10:47am
Within the walls of the White House, administration apparatchiks are diligently clacking away on laptop keyboards. Sending emails, drafting memos, issuing statements, finalizing schedules, all with one goal in mind: Get the message out.
What is the message? Depends on the topic — but rest assured, if there’s an issue, everyone is being told to stay on the message. If conservation efforts for the Eastern box turtle is the message for today, there’s some eager, caffeinated staffer, typing away at a steady 85 wpm, sending out a reminder to the Department of Homeland Security’s communications team that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas needs to mention how DHS officials are cracking down on the smuggling of the box turtle when he speaks at the University of Northern Iowa later today.
This, right now, is the pressing issue:
1-My grocery. There’s plenty of food it’s not as if we will starve. But I’ve never seen empty shelves like this in my lifetime. pic.twitter.com/jz6aQpXFxq
— Sharyl Attkisson🕵️♂️ (@SharylAttkisson) October 14, 2021
The supply chain. Empty shelves. Transportation flow issues. Clogged ports. Reports of inordinately slow unionized crane operators. Panic ordering. The autumn of our discontent.
After plenty of keyboards clacking, Slack chats, emails, texts, Zoom sessions, late nights and early mornings, this is the message the White House has to counter it: Sorry your treadmill is delayed, you comfortable buffoon.
During Tuesday’s media briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked by The New York Times’ Michael Shear about “the timing on the supply chain issue actions that the president has taken.”
Do you think the supply chain crisis will become worse?
“It was clear in March of 2020 when COVID hit that the supply chains across the world had been disrupted. Even as the sort of work to fight back against COVID proceeded, it was crystal clear that things were not improving on supply chain. People couldn’t get dishwashers and furniture and treadmills delivered on time, not to mention all sorts of other things. So why is –“
“The tragedy of the treadmill that’s delayed,” Psaki quipped.
When NYT reporter Michael Shear asks about the ongoing supply chain crisis, Psaki jokes about “the tragedy of the treadmill that’s delayed”
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) October 19, 2021
What, no Peloton jape?
The rest of the answer saw Psaki denying Biden had waited too long: “The president formed [a] task force at the very beginning of the administration. And what we know from the global supply chain issues is that they are multifaceted,” Psaki said, according to a Rev.com transcript.
“Right now we’ve been focusing on the ports and issues at the ports. And what leaders at these ports will tell you is that they’ve seen an increase in volume dramatically as it relates to last year, a year ago. 20 percent. 30 percent increase in volume. But there are other issues that have impacted the global supply chain that we’ve been working to address through our task force from the beginning.”
However, that answer rings hollow given what we’re seeing at the moment — and particularly after Psaki pooh-poohed the depth of the crisis with her snark.
And before you start in on me, no, this isn’t just Jen Psaki trying to be wry and failing. Yes, this does fit under the aegis of Psaki’s weaksauce attempts to tell blood-boiling jokes she shouldn’t.
When Psaki made an infamously clanging attempt at a witticism regarding a branch of the military back in February, for instance — “Wow, Space Force — it’s the plane of today!” — there weren’t empty supermarket shelves or back-ordered appliances being discussed.
Also Jen Psaki: “Wow, Space Force– it’s the plane of today.” pic.twitter.com/hiadBB7ydz
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 3, 2021
After Psaki finished doing her open mic night tryout in the Brady Press Room, she was pretty much out on her own, narrative-wise. In fact, she was circling back and doing damage control almost the moment the presser was over.
We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 3, 2021
In this case, however, Psaki is staying on the message — just more smugly than her superiors might like.
Take White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Earlier in the week, Harvard economist and former Obama administration official Jason Furman had this take on the supply chain crisis: “Most of the economic problems we’re facing (inflation, supply chains, etc.) are high class problems. We wouldn’t have had them if the unemployment rate was still 10 percent. We would instead have had a much worse problem.”
Most of the economic problems we’re facing (inflation, supply chains, etc.) are high class problems. We wouldn’t have had them if the unemployment rate was still 10 percent. We wouldUS instead have had a much worse problem.
— Jason Furman (@jasonfurman) October 14, 2021
That’s a terrible take. If only there were some way to make it worse — particularly from an administration official…
This 👇👇 https://t.co/ymh53nEHAg
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) October 14, 2021
That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.
Klain is the gatekeeper to the president, and Psaki is his mouthpiece. They’re two of the most senior administration officials, and, in both cases, the message is the same: What do you have to complain about, peons? Everything’s fine. Oh, your poor little treadmill. You wouldn’t be worrying about that if unemployment were over 10 percent — now would you, huh?
These inanities aren’t accidents. They aren’t solecisms. The narrative fabric that’s been weaved out of a million separate keystrokes at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is this: There are only supply chain issues because you’ve never had it so good.
If that’s the message they’re trying to sell us, if that’s how much they care about Americans affected by the supply chain crisis, here’s the message you should take away: You have no idea how bad things are about to get.