I had never heard the word “doolally” until this morning. If you hadn’t either, it turns out to mean exactly what you’d think it means.
I also hadn’t heard last week that that word was being thrown around in British cabinet meetings about Biden, but apparently the UK’s Sunday Times reported it eight days ago. The Washington Post picked it up in a story published the same day. And if you believe the Daily Telegraph, the news didn’t go unnoticed in the Biden White House.
The Sunday Times story was published 48 hours or so after he made this laughable comment at a White House presser:
Following criticism of the United States' conduct in their withdrawal, Biden says he has seen "no question of our credibility from our allies around the world." https://t.co/nkdo355FUf pic.twitter.com/N2DHg3KTqX
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 20, 2021
That was the same day that a British diplomatic memo mysteriously leaked indicating that Biden had told U.S. allies at the G7 in June that America would secure Kabul so that all partner nations would be able to evacuate their locals before a Taliban takeover. Two months later, the U.S. has been reduced to announcing that it and scores of other countries have reached a delicate agreement with the Taliban to keep evacuating foreign nationals and friendlies after our last troops are withdrawn.
So you can understand why the Brits’ opinion of Biden might have turned dim lately. There was even a claim, denied by Boris Johnson’s office, that the prime minister had taken to referring to him as “Sleepy Joe.”
Biden has read all of those reports and won’t soon forget this, a source told the Telegraph today. Except he probably will forget it, though, no? That goes with the territory of being “doolally.”
“The Brits have their view. But they should be careful. What’s been said is offensive and he will remember it. He actually has a long memory,” a US source told the Telegraph.
“It’s always been his way that if somebody says something really bad to him, or about him, he doesn’t speak to them again. He does bear grudges. Boris Johnson should know that.”
The source added: “The president is not ‘gaga’. He’s actually picked up his game quite a bit since the campaign.”…
[A White House insider] said: “Quite frankly, it bodes poorly for the relationship with the UK. The special relationship is very much in danger at this point.
A grim irony is that the 13 American soldiers killed last week were part of an operation aimed at satisfying the British by extending the timeline for getting people out. According to Politico, the U.S. had intelligence of a credible threat to the airport by ISIS-K; commanders on the ground assessed that the Abbey Gate was at the highest risk since that’s where American citizens had been gathering. Plans were made to close the gate on the day of the bombing but “the Americans decided to keep the gate open longer than they wanted in order to allow their British allies, who had accelerated their withdrawal timeline, to continue evacuating their personnel, based at the nearby Baron Hotel.” You know what happened next.
Members of Biden’s own party can’t go around calling him “gaga” or “doolally” but they can try to put some distance between themselves and the Kabul fiasco — and they are trying, Axios notes. Nothing reveals how feeble the White House’s “biggest airlift in history!” spin is than the fact that other Dems want nothing to do with the operation:
Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) said in a statement that it’s “long past time” to end U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, but added: “[I]t appears that the evacuation process has been egregiously mishandled.”…
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), a former CIA officer who focused on counterterrorism efforts in the Middle East, spearheaded a bipartisan statement from the Problem Solvers Caucus calling on the administration to reconsider Tuesday’s withdrawal deadline…
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) distanced herself from the president as he reiterated his commitment to the withdrawal date: “We must complete this mission, regardless of any arbitrary deadlines.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) told a local station in Las Vegas earlier this month that she “asked this administration [about its Afghanistan plan], never received anything. And so yeah, I do have questions. What happened? It’s devastating what we’re seeing right now and we need to have answers.”
Democrats understand that although the withdrawal is almost over this can still get much worse politically. Americans are fickle in their foreign policy preferences, after all. They like the idea of getting out of Afghanistan in the abstract but may not like it as much when they start reading the inevitable news reports about Taliban savagery against women. Any reports of Afghan friendlies or, of course, American citizens being murdered after having been left behind will escalate the political backlash. That’s why figures like Hassan and Spanberger are calling for extending the deadline despite knowing (a) it won’t happen and (b) we still couldn’t get everyone out even if we had another two weeks, according to Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer. They at least want to be on record as having endorsed the “no man left behind” position before Biden turns around and leaves men behind.