A notable leftover from yesterday morning, in which NBC’s commentators Chuck Todd and Willie Geist acknowledge that Biden has major problems with credibility already. From the pandemic to the border to Afghanistan, Todd points out, nothing that Biden promised has materialized, and now our allies are questioning our “competency” under Biden. There’s one topic that doesn’t come up in this clip, however, although Todd alludes to it indirectly:
“Well, look, I think he’s got a pretty big credibility crisis on his hands,” Todd said on NBC’s “Sunday Today.” “Because all of these problems, in some ways, showed up after he said something basically the exact opposite.”
Todd, who is also NBC News’s political director, mentioned the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, which he noted Biden told Americans would not be “messy” and would not look like Saigon in 1976.
On coronavirus vaccine boosters, Biden “came out and essentially indicated eight months, maybe as soon as six months … now, we’re not sure if anyone under 65 is going to get a booster shot,” Todd continued.
And on the border, where thousands of migrants are camped out in squalid conditions under a bridge in Texas, Todd said it has become “pretty clear we have a bigger problem now than we’ve had in years, and these policies have turned into becoming a magnet.”
Todd had more to say on this subject to Punchbowl News’ Anna Palmer on Meet the Press, especially on Afghanistan. “It’s only getting worse,” he remarked:
NBC panel on Biden's Multiple Crises:
NBC's Chuck Todd: "It's been a rough 6 weeks…it's only getting worse."
Punchbowl's Anna Palmer: The Biden administration has "continued to stumble," "they don't necessarily have the policy right." pic.twitter.com/ayzCgywbTv
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 19, 2021
“There’s a new migrant crisis at the Texas border with more than 10,000 Haitians living in deteriorating conditions,” Todd said. “U.S. Military had to admit its missile strike in Kabul, in response to the killing of 13 soldiers, was an error, and that it killed up to 10 innocent civilians. And then he had the issue with France, so angry about the U.S. sabotaging their submarine deal with Australia that they actually recalled their ambassador.”
“You know, Anna, with the Afghanistan withdrawal, and how it went, and then you have the, what the Pentagon said,” he later added. “And then you look at the border, there is this growing, ‘Boy, can you guys get your arms around our problems?’ This seems to be the real challenge.”
Anna Palmer, Founder of Punchbowl News, responded by noting that the administration has “continued to stumble here.”
“They don’t have the messaging right. They don’t necessarily have the policy right,” she continued. “There’s a lot of questions on Capitol Hill now that these members are coming back where they’re gonna face investigations on Afghanistan, what happened there; it’s not going away. And I think this is something where this White House is really not kind of got its feet underneath it and now we’re weeks into this, right.”
In none of these clips do Todd or his guests mention the abandoned Americans in Afghanistan, but that observation comes with caveats. Todd clearly cites the entire mess in Afghanistan as one of the factors eroding confidence in Biden’s competency, both at home and abroad. At least Todd mentions Afghanistan, and discusses it with his panelists, which is more than some media outlets are doing at the moment. Todd also pushed back on the border crisis, another topic of widespread non-coverage, and slams the White House spin on it:
CHUCK TODD: María Theresa, this migrant crisis is not seasonal, right? President Biden thought it was going to be seasonal. This is just one of the things he had said that turned out not to be true these days. And this issue with the Haitians is — I mean, you and I were talking earlier, this is yet another problem with disinformation, perhaps for the Haitian people. But this is a bunch of bad choices. We’re really going to send people back to Haiti?
Todd didn’t use the word “competent” on Meet the Press as he did with Geist on the Today preview, but he’s clearly touching on it in terms of the entire administration. It’s not directed at Biden’s age or seemingly dwindling capacity, nor should it be — at least not yet. The truth is that the Biden of twenty years ago would have been just as far in over his head as he is now, because Biden has never been anything more than an empty-headed empty suit from a safe and undemanding state, and with better press than prescience. Even his supposed compassion has been mostly a PR construct, a failing that the disgraceful abandonment of Americans in Afghanistan exposed to the point where the media could no longer ignore it.
Eight months into his presidency, that has become the case across the board. The competency crisis has become so profound that even our allies are having to reposition themselves to deal with it. Todd’s acknowledgment of that fact should signal the rest of the media that the jig is up on Biden, at least with everyone else but the media themselves.