Our Failed Political Press ™ continues to ignore context, and so 20 years of forever wars ending on month 7 of President Handsome Joe Biden’s first term is naturally his fault/failure, and the same wise people stroking their chins for 40 Friedman units are still demanding more F.U.s.
“It’s the optics, man” was a theme on Twitter last night. “This looks bad for Biden” is the theme this morning, and Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) email thingie goes long in the head notes (and this is just the last 3 of about 20):
THE VIEW FROM THE WEST WING: We don’t pretend to know whether Biden was right or wrong about the long-term impact of the fall of Kabul. But we’ve seen dramatic foreign policy events burn brightly and then fade from the political debate just as quickly. On the big question of the drawdown, the White House has no regrets. “Events of the past few days have just reconfirmed that the POTUS decision to leave was right,” a senior official told us last night. “Can’t ask Americans to fight a civil war that the Afghan army refuses to fight.”
On the question of whether the bungled evacuation effort can be salvaged, we see an administration quickly pivoting to fix the problem. “Now we have to do the mission of securing the airport and get our people and allies and Afghan helpers out,” the official said. Now that the airport has been secured, this official said they could move 5,000 people a day out of the country and finish the job in a matter of “days hopefully.”
Will this be a presidency-defining debacle that we are talking about for years to come? Or will it disappear from the front pages? The answer may depend on the success or failure of the currently chaotic American evacuation effort — and how the Taliban respond to it.
And continues their theme of Bungling Biden in the, uh, sub notes:
While team Biden is often unflappable in the face of bad news, the AP reports that the president “and other top U.S. officials were stunned on Sunday by the pace of the Taliban’s nearly complete takeover of Afghanistan.”
WaPo’s Anne Gearan and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. see POTUS’ statements about the situation as evidence of “an increasingly defiant and defensive tone from Biden and his aides amid criticism that Biden is condemning a U.S. partner to brutal rule by Islamist fundamentalists and opening the door to new terrorist threats.”
NYT’s David Sanger on Biden’s turn from domestic policy competence to foreign policy confusion: “Mr. Biden will go down in history, fairly or unfairly, as the president who presided over a long-brewing, humiliating final act in the American experiment in Afghanistan. After seven months in which his administration seemed to exude much-needed competence — getting more than 70 percent of the country’s adults vaccinated, engineering surging job growth and making progress toward a bipartisan infrastructure bill — everything about America’s last days in Afghanistan shattered the imagery.”
THE EVACUATION: “Rushed Evacuation in Kabul Highlights Disconnect in Washington,”by NYT’s Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Lara Jakes
— “‘Saigon on Steroids’: The Desperate Rush to Flee Afghanistan,”by WSJ’s Yaroslav Trofimov, Dion Nissenbaum and Margherita Stancati: “The lucky few were already inside, crowded onto the last patch of government territory that hadn’t fallen to the Taliban. Outside, as thousands of civilians surged to break through the perimeter of Hamid Karzai International Airport, security forces fired gunshots into the air to force them back. …
“Inside the terminal, Afghans with small children sat dazed next to European special-forces operators with their sniper rifles and high-tech helmets equipped with night vision and infrared tags. Outside, the engines of helicopters and transport planes provided a steady, almost lulling, hum. Once in [a] while, groups of evacuees—the staff of the Indian embassy, or Bulgarian security contractors—donned helmets and body armor and set off toward their plane.”
And the words you will not read in any of these dramatic quotes are:
And that is how it is rolling this morning: our elite media has no idea how our military got into Afghanistan (it is apparently a complete mystery) or why they are there (another mystery) or what their mission was. (They had a mission?!)