Karine Jean-Pierre is so out of her league

POLITICS: Karine Jean-Pierre is so out of her league

Given twin challenges of a looming reelection (with job-approval numbers suggesting Americans deem his first term a failure) and global foreign-policy crises, President Biden needs a half-way competent messaging operation to spin the public into believing all is (relatively) well. 

To say he lacks that in White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is the ultimate understatement.

In her latest cringe-inducing episode, Jean-Pierre was asked to speak on the deaths of three soldiers in an Iran-linked drone strike and offered this alphabet soup to a national morning audience: “Our deepest condolences go out and our heartfelt condolences go out to the families who lost three brave folks who are military folks who are brave who are always fighting and are fighting on behalf of this administration of the American people obviously more so importantly.” 


Putting aside the awful grammatical redundancies, those in uniform are never fighting “on behalf of this administration” — they are fighting for their country! 

Earlier in the week, Jean-Pierre was asked whether Texas was violating a Supreme Court decision on the placement of barbed-wire barriers at the border: Her response — “Well, I mean, the Supreme Court is the highest, you know, court of the land. . . . It’s the law. It is literally the law.” — explained nothing.

Actual answer: No, Texas is not defying the Supreme Court — which upended Texas’ injunction against the administration removing the state’s barbed-wire fences but otherwise allowed its challenges on administration border policy to continue. 

This isn’t just a one-off situation.

Jean-Pierre’s shortcomings have been on display all 18 months she’s been on the job.

She drags her huge briefing book into pressers but rarely shows she understands the nuances of the policies she’s trying to explain and defend. 

Indeed, as the calendar turned into 2024, Jean-Pierre was still urging supporters for “more time” for so-called “Bidenomics” to be felt positively — even as campaigning House Democrats were abandoning the term as voters continue to struggle economically.

Those deficiencies are all the more glaring due to her boss’.

Unlike the two previous Democratic presidents, Joe Biden has never been a natural communicator, able to draw on a charismatic personality that can sway thousands.

To a greater degree than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, he needs a professional communications operation.

There’s an obvious solution.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby is for all intents and purposes co-press secretary for national security and foreign affairs.

The difference between him and Jean-Pierre can’t be overstated.

Policies wouldn’t change, but at least there would be a more reassuring voice trying to sell them.

Since identity politics plays a significant role within the Democratic Party, this switch could be dicey for Biden.

She’s a black LGBTQ woman of Caribbean descent.

That checks a lot of boxes in a year the Biden coalition can’t afford any more fraying.

And given her replacement would be a white man, that’s even more “problematic.”

Yet there have been similar switches in the past.

Back in the ’90s, Bill Clinton appointed the first female White House press secretary: Dee Dee Myers.

Alas, Myers wasn’t given the access to the president her predecessors had, helping make her ineffective in the role.

Following the 1994 midterms that produced a Republican Congress for the first time in 40 years, Myers was replaced by Mike McCurry, who had gained a strong reputation as State Department spokesman.

That helped Clinton on the road to his 1996 reelection. 

True, that was a less sensitive time in progressive politics (and Myers and McCurry were both Caucasian).

Jean-Pierre reportedly wants to stick around through the election.

Biden doesn’t have the luxury of waiting.

He should use the campaign calendar as a convenient opportunity to make a change. 

A few days ago, two White House staffers moved over to the campaign. Jean-Pierre should follow suit.

Frankly, the political fray better suits her skill set.

There’s no shame in admitting, even in the best of circumstances, conveying the intricacies of policy is not one’s strong suit. 

Time to cut the cord, Joe.

Your presidency may depend on it. 

Robert A. George, a former Post editorial-board member, writes on New York and national issues.

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