MSNBC's Jen Psaki's Curious Bible Hangup With Speaker Johnson

November 4th, 2023 4:00 PM

So the Bible is not OK. At least not with MSNBC’s Jen Psaki.

If, that is, it is conservative Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson touting it.

But when its President Joe Biden, Jen’s ex-boss? No problem!

I should say right away that I know Jen Psaki, an old colleague from CNN days. I like her. But on this issue, it seems that she is unaware of her ex-boss’s own Bible stance.

Let’s start with this headline from Fox News

Jen Psaki bashes GOP Speaker Mike Johnson for being a 'religious fundamentalist’ 

And just what makes the new Speaker a “religious fundamentalist”? Fox reports this from Jen on the new Speaker Johnson in her now-role as an MSNBC host: 

‘First glance, Mike Johnson does seem fine,’ Psaki said. ‘Fine-ish. Conservative, yes. But he once started a civility caucus with a Democrat. And I mean, if nothing else, he wears a suit and has glasses,’ she continued. ‘How threatening can this guy actually be?’ 

Psaki played a clip of Johnson describing himself as a ‘Bible-believing Christian.’  

‘I am a Bible-believing Christian,' Johnson said. ‘Someone asked me today in the media, they said, well, it’s curious. People are curious, what does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’ he said in the clip. ‘I said, Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my world view.’

‘You heard that right,’ Psaki said in response to Johnson's comments. ‘The Bible doesn’t just inform his worldview, it is his worldview.’

Well now. What’s wrong with that? This is curious.

Recall Jen’s previous job in which she served as the White House press secretary for President Joe Biden?

That’s right. And Joe Biden seems to have a real thing for the Bible himself. And being Joe Biden, this is documented.

As here at CNN

Biden was sworn in on a storied 19th century family Bible

Reports CNN: 

 President Joe Biden was sworn in on a 19th century family Bible on Wednesday, continuing his longtime tradition of using the heirloom during his decades of public service.

The five-inch thick Bible features a Celtic cross on the cover, and has been in the Biden family since 1893. The President has used the Bible each time he has taken an oath of office, including during his first Senate swearing-in in 1973 and his swearings-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. 

The Bible was also used by Biden’s late son, Beau Biden, when he was sworn in as attorney general of Delaware in 2007.

First Lady Jill Biden held the Bible on Wednesday as her husband took the oath of office, which was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts.

‘Every important date is in there. For example, every time I’ve been sworn in for anything, the date has been on that, and it’s inscribed on the Bible,’ Biden told Stephen Colbert in December.

‘Our son, when he was sworn in as attorney general, all the important dates in our family, going way back. And it’s just been a family heirloom,’ he said.

The Bible has been so central to Biden’s political career that in 2009 when he took his final oath in the Senate, the swearing-in was delayed when the Bible couldn’t be located, according to the Wilmington News Journal.

So there is Jen’s own presidential boss making it clear -- crystal clear -- that, as CNN notes, the Bible has been “central” in Biden’s public life - and proudly so. He is well out there proudly displaying the 19th century family Bible. Not unlike the new Speaker Johnson proudly says the Bible is central to his own life.

Once upon a time Jen Psaki worked for another president - that being Democrat President Barack Obama. And guess what? That President too had a thing for the Bible.

So much so, in fact, that The Washington Post headlined: 

Obama to take oath on Bibles used by Martin Luther King Jr., Lincoln

Reported The Post

Martin Luther King Jr. carried a black leather King James Bible on his journeys as a young pastor starting out in Montgomery, Ala. He turned to this ‘traveling Bible’ for inspiration, his family says, as he fought for freedom and equality.

President Obama will put his hand over King’s well-worn Bible at his public swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 21, the holiday celebrating the birthday of the slain civil rights leader. King’s Bible will be stacked with the burgundy velvet and gilded Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration.

Obama chose the Lincoln Bible for his inauguration in 2009, making him the first president to do so since it was initially used in 1861.

Recall that Obama’s second inaugural date fell on a Sunday. January 20th is the mandated date for a president to be sworn in. And he was in a quiet White House ceremony. But the huge, televised ceremony Americans are so familiar with on presidential inauguration days was postponed to the next day, Monday. The first day of the work week.  

The Post reported: 

For that first ceremony, Obama will use the family Bible of his wife’s family. According to the inaugural committee, that Bible ‘was a gift from the First Lady’s father, Fraser Robinson III, to his mother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson, on Mother’s Day in 1958. Mrs. Robinson was the first African-American woman manager of a Moody Bible Institute’s bookstore.’ That Bible was the only one Michelle Obama’s grandmother used after that, a committee statement said.

Certainly sounds like the Obama family viewed the Bible as central in their lives. The President’s own mother-in-law once “was the first African-American woman manager of a Moody Bible Institute’s bookstore.”

The point of all this history of Democrat presidents and their Bibles?

Jen Psaki’s remarks about the new Speaker Johnson and his open admission that the Bible is central in his life is really part of a liberal media strategy to paint the here-to-fore little known Congressman Johnson as some sort of Bible-thumping Christian right-wing nut.

The problem in doing this, as illustrated, is that making the Bible “central” in life is something Democrat Presidents Biden and Obama - not to mention their family through the preceding years - have done as well. 

There is zero wrong with it. And this tradition in fact comes from a long, long American cultural history of placing the Bible front and center in daily life.

Indeed The Biblical Heritage Exhibit records this of what became known as “The Pilgrims Bible”: 

In 1620, during their voyage on the Mayflower to the New World, the Pilgrims carried with them copies of the Geneva Bible, understanding the Biblical principle of Psalm33:12, ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.’ That the Pilgrim’s treasured this Book was no surprise; even before they left Holland, they purposed in their hearts to carry God’s Word into America. Because of their sacrifice, the Geneva Bible, also called the ‘Pilgrim’s Bible,’ became the spiritual foundation for the future of the United States of America.

Which is to say, the Bible that has been at the very center of the founding of America, and in today’s world in the lives of Speaker Johnson, President Biden and former President Obama is a decidedly all-American custom and tradition.

Or when Psaki's bosses paid homage to the Bible, it was just a stunt? It's just a prop when you're sworn in? The Bible is great on one day every four years or so?

God Bless America and on we go!