“This was a success and it’s Trump’s fault. This was flawlessly handled and it’s the Afghan military’s fault,” Ben Shapiro tweeted, capturing the cognitive dissonance of this afternoon’s speech. “We are gone and the terrorists just took over, and also we are also going to fight terrorists no matter where they are.”
There was an oddly Trumpian vibe to trying him trying to spin the calamity we endured this month in Kabul as some sort of rousing demonstration of national capabilities, as if he could talk people into seeing things his way through sheer salesmanship and nerve. It’s true, I guess, that patching together an airlift on the fly that ends up evacuating 100,000+ people in a few weeks is a logistical feat. But that hastily arranged airlift was made necessary by a catastrophic intelligence failure about the strength of the Afghan army, inexplicable tactics like abandoning Bagram air base, and poor coordination that led to hundreds of American citizens and thousands of Afghan allies being abandoned behind enemy lines.
If this was success, what would failure have looked like?
Biden hails the "extraordinary success" of the U.S. evacuation mission from Afghanistan and commends U.S. troops for "risking their lives to serve others" https://t.co/xJmPm7NzI3 pic.twitter.com/Z4luhU2xjA
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) August 31, 2021
Here’s where I remind you that this guy is currently rocking a 27/71 approval rating on his handling of withdrawal. That’s the political environment in which he’s trying to spin what just happened as a “success.”
Even more inflammatory was when he suggested that there was no way realistically to avoid the sort of debacle that unfolded at the airport. Is that right? Did I miss a speech several months ago in which Biden calmly warned the country, “Now, you all understand this is destined to be a sh*tshow with thousands of people left behind, right?”
Joe Biden contradicts his promise in April and now claims a chaotic exit was inevitable pic.twitter.com/l6ZrrDoLZm
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 31, 2021
If he gave that speech, I don’t remember it. I do remember this:
From Biden’s remarks back in July, before the Taliban overran the country: https://t.co/bX5o1jsDMf pic.twitter.com/2n0Ksb6lWA
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) August 31, 2021
I also remember what he said when he announced his withdrawal plans in April. “We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit,” Biden insisted. “We’ll do it — we’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely. And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners, who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do.” Today’s he’s asking for congratulations that such a hasty, irresponsible, and unsafe exit plan resulted in only 13 American soldiers being blown up in the course of it, while our allies quietly question whether he’s “doolally.”
Amazingly, he’s also blaming the remaining Americans in Afghanistan for their own abandonment:
Biden on Americans he left stranded in Afghanistan: We issued them “multiple warnings” pic.twitter.com/ArMVCGY6Dp
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) August 31, 2021
I can’t believe he’s still faulting people for not racing to the exits after he stood before the world in July and denied that the Afghan army would crumble when left to face the Taliban alone. How many Americans in Kabul heard that and thought, “Biden must have good reason to believe in the army’s abilities or else he wouldn’t be so bearish on the prospect of a quick Taliban conquest”? “A lot of [people] are happy to give Biden a pass for not recognizing that the Taliban would take over the country 16 days before 8/31 but unwilling to give Americans stuck there a pass for making the same miscalculation. I don’t find that argument very compelling, sorry,” tweeted Tim Miller about the spin coming from Democrats this afternoon.
Even if you do find it compelling, it’s political malpractice for Biden to fault the remaining Americans who didn’t leave. They’re in harm’s way and a vast majority of the public believes that we shouldn’t have pulled our troops out until they were safely evacuated. If harm befalls them, Biden will of course deny that he meant to suggest that they got what’s coming to them for not getting out of Dodge sooner. But that’s how it’ll play with some.
Finally, there was the “blame Trump” portion of the speech, a strange wrinkle in what was supposed to be a victory lap:
Biden defends the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan by saying it was a choice between ending the war or escalating it further: “That was the choice, the real choice … . I was not going to extend this forever war. And I was not extending a forever exit” https://t.co/2MrEfd2c3H pic.twitter.com/WdVQdoJWb0
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 31, 2021
It’s hard to think of a single public appearance since the great Afghanistan bugout began in which Biden did himself more good than harm. When he hasn’t seemed irascible and defensive, he’s looked lethargic. There hasn’t been one meaningful attempt to take responsibility for failing to get everyone out. There’s always some perfunctory allowance in each speech about how the buck stops with him but inevitably he steers around to blaming others — Trump, for saddling him with a deadline; the Afghan army, for supposedly being unwilling to fight; even the stranded Americans, for failing to heed State’s warnings months ago. Biden didn’t fail. Everyone failed him, it seems.
The speech ended the way his speeches usually do these days. I’ll leave you with that.
WATCH: Joe Biden refuses to take questions after speech.
Hundreds of Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/2euRC4MFGq
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 31, 2021
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