With tens of thousands of Americans and allied Afghans still stranded in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden is facing a ferocious foreign-policy crisis. Or is he?
“Facing” doesn’t seem the right word. Biden’s barely been seen since the Taliban began its march to Kabul, taking city after city before seizing the capital. Following four days of silence, the prez finally interrupted his Camp David vacation to address the nation Monday — and promptly returned to Maryland.
White House records show he’s talked to just two foreign leaders in the last 10 days, Britain’s Boris Johnson (it took him 36 hours to return the call!) and Germany’s Angela Merkel. There’s next to nothing on his schedule, yet he hasn’t taken questions from the press all week, with the exception of a sit-down with a former Democratic operative. Even then, Biden bristled when ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos stated the obvious: The Afghan withdrawal has been a debacle.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon admits it doesn’t know how many Americans are still in Afghanistan, guessing it could be up to 15,000.
What on Earth is the commander in chief doing amid the chaos?
Then again, the Stephanopoulos interview was so painful to watch, maybe the prez should stay holed up at home. Biden flatly misled the public when he stated intelligence reports said the Taliban were unlikely to take over the country before the end of the year: When asked in July about the intelligence assessment that the Afghan government would likely collapse, Biden declared, “That is not true.” Yet on Wednesday he claimed he said it was a possibility.
Stephanopoulos asked whether the disaster resulted from “a failure of intelligence, planning, execution or judgment.” The prez insisted it wasn’t a failure. The entire world’s jaw must’ve dropped.
When an incredulous Stephanopolous pointed to pictures of Afghans falling to their deaths as they struggled to hang on to departing US military planes, Biden angrily interrupted him: “That was four days ago, five days ago!” In fact, that was Monday, two days before the sit-down, but it certainly is still relevant either way.
At other times, he skirted questions or replied incoherently. And he’s offered reassurance by noting, “At the moment, no one is dying” — never mind that 12 people have died in the Afghan turmoil.
None of this inspires confidence.
It was Biden’s ninth news interview this year and his second with Stephanopoulos, former CBS News reporter Mark Knoller noted. At this point in the presidency, Donald Trump had given 50 and Barack Obama 113.
Biden promised to bring America back. Instead, he’s in hiding, fibbing or making little sense — and at a time when he’s needed most.
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