White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s dismissive comments about Space Force earlier this week underscored just how hungry conservatives are for outrageous fuel. But it also illustrated a challenge the Biden administration faces as it tries to heed the legacy of former President Donald Trump.
PSAki was asked by Bloomberg White House reporter Josh Wingrove on Tuesday whether Biden had made a decision on “keep or maintain the scope of Space Force.” PSAKI replied as if he had been asked about happy hour specials at the Trump International Hotel.
“Wow, Space Force. This is today’s plane,” Psaki said sarcastically, referencing the silly questions she asked during her early press briefings about Biden’s thoughts on Air Force One’s color scheme. . “I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I do not know who it is. I’ll find out and see if we have any updates on this.
The Trump administration’s press briefings looked more like professional wrestling matches than good faith attempts to share information with the American public. So, as tame as he’s compared to Sarah Sanders using manipulated video to belittle Jim Acosta or Sean Spicer declaring war on sensory perception itself, Psaki’s exchange with Wingrove is about as controversial as the briefings. of the Biden era have been so far.
PSAKI disrespected a Trump branding project, not the troops
On the one hand, PSAki’s disdain is understandable. As Defense News recently explained, the Space Force “is fundamentally a rebranding of the Air Force’s legacy space organizations — specifically the now defunct Air Force Space Command.” Trump lobbied for its creation primarily as a marketing and fundraising opportunity for his campaign. Even before the Space Force’s official inauguration in late 2019, the Trump campaign sold Space Force merchandise on its website, and administration officials were photographed wearing the swag.
It was also a big hit at Trump rallies, where Trump held it up as evidence of how he was rebuilding the military while his fans chanted, “Space Force! Space Force!”
TRUMP: “Mexico is paying for the wall, by the way…the media will be thrilled when I explain that Mexico is paying…I created Space Force. I could do anything.” (Mexico does not pay for the wall.) pic.twitter.com/wbGXQDWJSL
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 3, 2020
Space Force’s tacky sci-fi style branding – including reference to the staff as “guardians” – has made it the object of ridicule among celebrities like guardians of the galaxy director James Gunn and Mark Hamill, who is perhaps better known as Luke Skywalker in the star wars movies.
But Space Force is more than the Trump Steaks of the Army. Although Trump pushed for his endorsement, it was an independent branch of the armed forces that was created by congressional action. It has a budget of over $15 billion which it uses to operate military and GPS satellites, track space debris, and plan possible military space operations, among other things. It is important work.
So, unsurprisingly, conservative pundits were quick to seize on Psaki’s comments during Tuesday’s briefings, accusing him of disrespecting the troops (even though no ‘guardian’ died in the line of duty). .
Republican members of Congress also got in on the act. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, told Politico “it’s disturbing to see the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny,” and asked Psaki “to apologize to the men and women of the Space Force for this disgraceful comment.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who encouraged the Jan. 6 uprising that resulted in the death of a police officer, shamelessly tweeted PSAki’s comments: “The level of disrespect they have for those who serve is shameful. A number of other elected Republicans weighed in with similar statements, and Fox News also indulged in performative outrage.
Brian Kilmeade gets mad at the Biden administration for trying to take down the Space Force — something the Biden administration doesn’t. pic.twitter.com/LeHru9f9cT
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) February 3, 2021
Amid all of this, PSAki posted a tweet on Tuesday night that looked a bit like a Rorschach test. While she appeared to engage the Biden administration in Space Force, she did so with a touch of shade, inviting “team members to come and visit us in the briefing room at any time to share an update on their important work”.
We look forward to the continued work of Space Force and welcome team members to visit us in the briefing room at any time to share an update on their important work.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 3, 2021
Vox contacted Space Force’s press office and asked if he planned to take Psaki up on his offer, but had not received a response as of press time. Meanwhile, Wednesday, PSAKI clarified in response to a question from a Fox News reporter that Space Force “has the full support of the Biden administration.” She did not give in to demands for an apology for her remarks.
The Biden administration isn’t investing heavily in Trump’s vanity projects
Just over two weeks into Biden’s presidency, the new president has focused on priorities like passing a massive Covid-19 relief bill, re-engaging the United States in its global alliances and the attempt to protect the environment by stopping oil and gas drilling on public lands. One gets the impression from PSAki’s comments that the administration hasn’t spent much time, if at all, thinking about the Space Force. This is understandable, given the magnitude of the crises facing the country.
That said, Wingrove’s question was legitimate, and Psaki ultimately did the Biden administration no favors by offering Republicans an easy opening to launch attacks — even though many of them have an Obama-wearing quality. a tan suit.
And, ultimately, Biden has no choice but to learn to live with the Space Force. Dissolving it would require an act of Congress, and Biden has made it clear that he intends to spend his political capital on more pressing matters.