Can Biden Survive This?
Author: Greg Valliere
August 16, 2021
THE CRITICISM HAS BEEN WITHERING — with good reason — as the U.S. got caught flat-footed by the Taliban’s easy capture of Kabul. Even Democrats have a hard time defending the tone-deaf performance by Joe Biden.
BIDEN FACES A FIRESTORM of Congressional hearings and growing doubt from U.S. allies about American resolve. But let’s not forget that for the American public, this was an unpopular war, with huge costs in lives and treasure.
THE BLAME GAME: Biden will share blame with Donald Trump, who was a fierce critic of the war; without consulting aides, Trump set a deadline for withdrawal. Liz Cheney got it right yesterday — both Trump and Biden miscalculated. The inept withdrawal, of course, is on Biden’s watch.
DEMOCRATS WE TALKED WITH YESTERDAY suggested that public opinion polls will show just how unpopular the war was, and that Biden had to exit this quagmire early in his presidency. Some Biden allies believe the withdrawal will be largely forgotten as the 2022 elections approach.
BUT THAT MAY OVERLOOK THREE HUGE NEGATIVES:
1. The Biden administration’s naiveté has been stunning, claiming the Afghan military could prevail. Even as Kabul fell, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was talking nonsensically about negotiating with the Taliban, warning that Afghanistan could become a “pariah” — as if the Taliban gives a damn.
2. We suspect that news of torture and killing will be dominant in the coming days, as the Taliban impose a barbaric rule throughout the country. Women will be sent back into the middle ages.
3. A huge negative will be the perception of America by U.S. allies and adversaries. Like Trump before him, Biden apparently is reluctant to commit U.S. forces anywhere, sending a limp message to nervous allies in Taiwan, Cuba,
Ukraine — and especially Pakistan.
BIDEN’S MANTRA FOCUSES ON U.S. TROOPS AND THEIR FAMILIES: Beau Biden fought in Afghanistan, and the president has frequently speculated that his son’s fatal brain tumor may have come after exposure to munitions used in the war. Biden is concerned about the human loss; Trump was outraged by the billions wasted.
OUR BOTTOM LINE is that while this chaotic withdrawal will hurt Biden in the short-run, isn’t not fatal to his presidency. Republicans and Trump bear some of the blame.
BUT THE NEGATIVES ARE PILING UP FOR BIDEN: A confusing Covid policy, rising inflation, a surge of illegal immigration, exploding urban gun violence, and now this horribly bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden turns 79 this fall; you have to wonder if he’ll be enthusiastic about starting a second term at the age of 82.
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