Bum or Liar? Jen Psaki’s Search for Happiness
Before becoming a saint, Augustine of Hippo was a bit like Jen Psaki: a high-level political hack who made his living flacking for a dubious king.
The Vagabond Seemed Happier
One day, says Augustine in The Confessions, he was strolling the streets of Milan, planning a speech on behalf of Joe Biden. Sorry, I mean Theodosius I. Despite his success as an orator and “Ivy League” educator, Augustine felt miserable. In the coming speech, he admitted afterward, “I was to utter many a lie, and lying, was to be applauded by those who knew I lied.” It is bad to be a scoundrel. It can feel worse to be known as one.
Augustine spotted a homeless man, “joking and hilarious.” Why is it, he asked his friends, that we seek happiness through ambition, but this apparently inebriated lay-about has just had a decent meal and sings merrily? Here I am, plotting and scheming to reach the top, but I feel miserable. And here this bum has found the happiness that eludes me? “He had not, indeed, gained true joy,” wrote Augustine, “but at the same time, with all my ambitions, I was seeking one still more untrue.”
Augustine recognized both states as deficient: to be drunken and homeless, or to be press agent for an indefensible president. Between the two, though, the vagabond seemed happier.
“Who is the Glibbest of Them All”?
I wonder whether a similar mix of thoughts was going through Psaki’s head when she rebuked a Fox reporter:
I think it’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not … We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home …
Psaki is well made-up: no doubt she spends time before the mirror before work. Imagine that conversation:
“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall. Who is the glibbest of them all”?
“Congressional divas are false,
Woke celebrities are fake,
But for shameless spin-doctoring
You, dear Jen, take the cake!”
No Americans are stranded in Afghanistan? Because people in the White House hope they all get home safely, if they want to?
And isn’t it a bit rich for a member of the Biden Administration to call a rare critical questioner “irresponsible”?
Psaki works for a man who hid in his bunker to avoid those guys. A president who blames everyone for his catastrophic blunders except himself. Who refuses to fulfill his constitutional obligation to protect America at its vulnerable southern border. Who spends trillions of dollars that our country does not have. (That’s tens of thousands out of your pocket, dear reader.) Who covers for a drug-addicted, whore-mongering, bribe-taking son who compromised himself in the devil-knows-what ways in China.
The President’s Tall Tales
These are not common, everyday lies. These are claims that most everyone recognizes as false, yet some are forced by politics to applaud. Or were. Now even many of Biden’s supporters can no longer pretend they believe the president’s tall tales about the Afghanistan debacle, or that his administration has acted in anything like a “responsible” manner.
Maybe Psaki hit on the key word, after all. For in another sense, Joe Biden and his political allies are responsible — deeply responsible.
Biden is probably partly responsible for that big number you see when you visit the gas station. (His anti-carbon politics will have an even bigger effect in the future.)
His administration is certainly responsible for the fact that inflation is now chomping away at your bank account like tiger sharks on a dead whale.
The president is responsible for letting millions of poorly-educated, non-English-speaking people, mostly young men from crime-ridden Central American countries, pour across our border. Nearly one in five of them tested COVID-positive in early August. Thousands are known to have criminal records.
Democratic mayors, BLM protesters, and all who enabled their manifest and oft-refuted lies are responsible for soaring rates of violent crime in American cities, and for allowing once-prime urban neighborhoods to turn into Third World slums.
Cancel culture runs rampant, encouraged by our president. He’s shut down the Keystone oil pipeline while his party wants to play “Dad” to Americans, disrupting the integrity of families across America.
And Joe Biden is personally responsible for throwing Afghanistan to the wolves. Women, back in the dungeon, your masters are calling! Christians, you’re in for it now! Chinese generals, welcome to our bazaar! No Persian rugs for sale, just top-of-the-line hardware, shiny and new, paid for by Yankee taxpayers.
Seeking Happiness in the Emptiness of Power
So I can’t help but wonder. If Jen Psaki retains a soul, after flacking so many years for the most irresponsible oafs on the planet, how can she not be tormented by her own daily lies?
With that word to Fox News, Ms. Psaki, you have begun your own Confessions.
Augustine learned the lesson: You can’t find joy in a bottle, and will find it much less, by praising an empty suit to the applause of fools. Your lies are unraveling before the world, Ms. Psaki. It only remains for you to see how naked your words really are, or to go on seeking happiness in the emptiness of the power you think they hold.
Misery lies in those empty, addictive words of power. And lie those words do, every day, like a bear in a zoo pawing to have peanuts thrown at it. Japanese Samurai believed in honor, and would fall on their swords at this point. You and your bosses should resign. Congress should consider articles of impeachment. There seems to be little honor among these thieves.
Augustine was brutally honest with himself in his Confessions. It did him great good. It did the world great good to hear those confessions, and know that one can be saved even from the seductive and irresponsible lies of political power. A truer happiness awaits you outside of your miserable lies, Ms. Psaki, and perhaps even a more real form of power.
David Marshall holds an undergraduate degree in the Russian and Chinese languages and Marxism, a masters degree in Chinese religions, and a doctoral degree in Christian thought and Chinese tradition. His most recent book is Jesus is No Myth: The Fingerprints of God on the Gospels.