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Douglas Andrews / August 23, 2021

A Brutal Question for Biden

A CBS reporter took the gloves off and asked Joe Biden the question that’s on everyone’s mind.

Finally, after more than a week of hiding from reporters amid the unfolding man-caused disaster in Afghanistan, Joe Biden took a few questions on Sunday. He and his handlers are no doubt regretting that decision.

It was one question, really — a question the likes of which we’ve never heard asked of an American president before. Of course, Joe Biden isn’t just any American president, and maybe that’s what CBS reported Ed O'Keefe had in mind when he “told” Biden the following question: “A new poll out today shows Americans wanted to withdraw from Afghanistan, but they disapprove of the way you’ve handled it. The majority of Americans — forgive me, I’m just the messenger — no longer consider you to be competent, focused, or effective at the job. What would you say to those Americans?”

What would Biden say? Well, first, he’d laugh nervously. Then he’d dismissively say he hasn’t seen any such poll. Then he’d paint a false choice between either increasing the size of our forces in Afghanistan or ending the war immediately with an ill-conceived withdrawal, and without acknowledging any number of alternatives he could’ve chosen between those bookends. Take a look:

The damning question to which O'Keefe referred asked respondents to rate Biden’s actions as president: Is he competent? Is he focused? Is he effective? He’s now underwater in all three, after having scored in the mid-50s to each of these questions in April. Credit to O'Keefe for asking it, especially given that Biden’s handlers tend to tightly script these press events. The CBS scribes must’ve had their Wheaties, too, because O'Keefe’s colleague, Bo Erickson, heard that Biden hadn’t seen their network’s polling, he soon tweeted, “Dear White House staff, please share the below polling to @POTUS. He said he had not seen it yet.”

Ouch.

In fact, very few Americans would take issue with ending the longest war in our nation’s history. What we — the vast majority of us, Left and Right — have a problem with is the way Biden has gone about ending it. One of the questions asked by the aforementioned poll, done by CBS News and YouGov, was how the removal of U.S. troops has gone. A whopping 77% said either “very badly” (44%) or “somewhat badly” (33%). Only one in five respondents thought the removal had gone “somewhat well.” (Those people can’t have been paying attention.) That’s an unequivocal failure of leadership.

Whose idea was it, for example, to just give up Bagram air base in early July and slink away in the middle of the night without so much as telling our Afghan replacements that we were leaving? What a disgrace. Why on earth would we give up Bagram before we’d evacuated our personnel from the country? Why would we pull our troops out before getting our people out? And why would Biden do away with Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau,” which was developed precisely to avoid this sort of nightmare?

These were just some of the colossal mistakes made by team Biden, and we’ve yet to hear coherent answers for any of them — not from Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, not from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, not from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and certainly not from our cognitively impaired commander-in-chief.

Which makes us wonder: Who’s being held accountable here? Where does the buck stop? And why haven’t we seen any resignations?

Milley, Austin: We’re waiting on you.

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