During a White House speech amid the Afghanistan evacuation fiasco, President Joe Biden looked into the camera with a cold, steely eye and said, “I am President of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.”
It’s a powerful line. Or rather, it would have been, if not for the 16 minutes and 39 seconds of buck-passing that preceded it.
Biden may have been going for a Harry Truman moment, but he sounded a lot more like Bill Clinton. It all depends on what your definition of “chaos” is.
Political pundits measure speeches like Biden’s on Monday by a simple standard: What does he need to do, and did he do it? In this case, Biden’s speech was a mulligan. There was nothing he really could do. In the modern era, a pixel is worth a thousand words, and the images on America’s phones and Facebook were too terrible to be talked away.
When Biden said he had spent the past week “moving quickly to execute the plans we had put in place to respond to every constituency, including the rapid collapse we’re seeing now,” what were voters supposed to think? Was watching desperate Afghans fall thousands of feet to their deaths after clinging to the outside of a U.S. transport plane really “the plan we had in place?”
If so, somebody needs a new plan.
Then again, what can Biden say? Even Americans who agree with bringing the troops home are horrified by the administration’s Afghanistan FUBAR (Military shorthand for “F’d Up Beyond All Repair.”) America is the most powerful nation in the world with the most powerful military ever known, and we can’t conduct an orderly withdrawal in the face of an enemy that doesn’t even have an Air Force? Where most of their heavy weapons are ones our military abandoned to them while fleeing our bases?
It’s indefensible. All Biden could do was launch his own army of straw men and throw blame around like farmer slinging manure.
Despite his “buck stops here” talk, Biden was shameless in his attempts to shift blame to others. Even his declarations of culpability were dishonest. When he pledged not to “shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today,” he was falsely suggesting there is someone else who needed to be cut in on the blame.
Who? Maybe invading Afghanistan was a George W. Bush mistake. Maybe not pulling out back in 2014 was an Obama flub. Was Donald Trump wrong to negotiate with the Taliban, increase their stature, and outlandishly claim those murderous thugs might become our terrorist-fighting sidekicks? Absolutely.
But what does any of that have to do with turning an orderly withdrawal into a panicked evacuation? It’s like a doctor blaming a cancer patient’s smoking for the fact that he removed the wrong lung.
Biden’s bizarre, off-putting speech even lacked internal consistency. On the one hand, Biden insisted his administration had it all under control. “We planned for every contingency,” he said again and again.
On the other, Biden admitted the whole thing was a mess and tried to say it was Trump’s fault. Because of Trump’s deal, Biden said, “The choice I had to make, as your president, was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season.”
That’s a false choice. Biden could have done nothing and kept the status quo. Or he could have withdrawn, but done so competently.
Instead, we have a humiliation of America on the world stage, gloating Taliban press conferences celebrating our defeat — and Joe Biden claiming the fact that he fouled it up so badly is actually proof that he was right all along!
“If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision,” Biden said.
It’s now being widely reported that Biden had to override his military advisors and top Pentagon counter-terrorism experts to execute his “bug out now” plan. As pollster David Paleologos of Suffolk University told InsideSources, by going it alone, Joe Biden’s most important political partner is now a group of Islamist terrorists.
“Ironically, Biden’s legacy on Afghanistan will be determined by the Taliban,” Paleologos said. “If nothing earth-shattering happens between now and 2024, Biden will be viewed as a leader and hero, and it will be a campaign talking point, especially for independents. But if the Taliban strikes in some meaningful way, independents will accelerate their evacuation from the Biden camp.”
Biden’s inept withdrawal from Afghanistan could very well lead to his hurried evacuation of the White House in 2024.