Allahpundit has already posted some of the reaction to Biden’s speech. My own reaction was a lot like Ed’s. What I saw was a prolonged strawman argument in which Biden suggested everyone who has criticized the competence of his withdrawal plan was in fact a supporter of remaining in Afghanistan forever. I think Jonathan Allen keyed into this as well as anyone.
It is possible that there were options other than fighting in Afghanistan forever and a poorly executed withdrawal.
— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) August 16, 2021
Here’s Tapper just before the big speech noting that Biden was warned in advance the Afghan government could fall quickly and perhaps wasn’t listening which makes this a case of sheer incompetence.
CNN's Jake Tapper calls the Biden admin's handling of Afghanistan "a clear indication of inept planning." pic.twitter.com/JHsSY8Iyl0
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) August 16, 2021
And here’s Tapper immediately after the speech. “The president said that the buck stopped with him but in fact the speech was full of finger-pointing and blame, especially for the Afghans,” Tapper said. “He did not really get into or accept any blame for the catastrophic exit that we have been watching on television for the past several days,” he added.
Biden’s speech clearly didn’t win over everyone but he does have some truly devoted fans who are already falling in line:
Brutally honest. Accepts responsibility. The best speech under the circumstances. Now better damn well get those people out
— Jennifer 'pro-voting' Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) August 16, 2021
Biden really didn’t accept responsibility and even his framing of the issue in his speech suggested this was just a failure to expect the worst. But as Tapper (above) pointed out, there’s no excuse for claiming you didn’t see this one coming. Richard Engel went on MSNBC today and made the same point. He said lots of people on the ground were warning this was going to happen. “I know people were telling him or were telling their superiors through the chain of command…that if the US pulled the carpet…that things would collapse,” he said. He added, “This was absolutely predictable and I don’t exactly believe that nobody could have foreseen this…that no one was warned. People were warning from here. I spoke to them.” In short, don’t believe it when Biden claims this was all a big surprise. It’s worse than that.
BREAKING: As the Taliban takes over the civilian side of the Kabul airport, Richard Engel says "I don't believe that the U.S. was as surprised as it is claiming." #MTPDaily@RichardEngel: "This was absolutely predictable. … People were warning from here. I spoke to them." pic.twitter.com/7y80sSXWAP
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 16, 2021
This disaster is so bad that I’m seeing people on Twitter who’ve given up on defending Biden. Instead they have moved to a new argument, i.e. Americans won’t care about this by the time of the next election. This is a Democratic variation on that old claim that Trump could murder someone on 5th Avenue and it wouldn’t matter. Some Democrats are now arguing that Biden could let 10,000 Afghan translators be murdered by the Taliban and his base won’t care. Even if that’s true it doesn’t say much for Biden or his party.