Is it time to move on even when Americans remain stuck behind Taliban lines, abandoned there by Joe Biden’s retreat from Afghanistan? The White House sure as hell hopes so, according to The Hill. They report that the administration wants to push a “domestic refocus” and “move past” their disgrace in Kabul.
Good luck with that:
The White House is trying to move past the chaotic and deadly U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan by turning its attention to domestic priorities like President Biden’s economic agenda.
Biden is gearing up for what promises to be a bruising intraparty battle to pass a $3.5 trillion spending bill that’s packed with some of his biggest policy goals. But he’s also poised to score a major bipartisan victory if the House passes a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package later this month.
More immediately, Biden will deliver a speech Thursday on the federal government’s response to the Hurricane Ida, the latest challenge facing his administration. He will travel to Louisiana to survey the storm’s damage the next day.
Administration officials are also grappling with rising COVID-19 case numbers, striking at the heart of Biden’s chief priority since taking office in January.
How exactly does one “move past” Afghanistan with thousands of American citizens and legal permanent residents trapped there? Each of those people have the potential to become a news story on their own as well as in the aggregate. Javed Habibi, for instance, remains very much in the news today as the Associated Press recounts how the Biden administration betrayed him and his family. Habibi has a green card for permanent residency in the US already, and he tried repeatedly to get the State Department to extract him over the last couple of weeks, to no avail.
“They lied to us,” Habibi told reporters:
Even in the final days of Washington’s chaotic airlift in Afghanistan, Javed Habibi was getting phone calls from the U.S. government promising that the green card holder from Richmond, Virginia, his wife and their four daughters would not be left behind.
He was told to stay home and not worry, that they would be evacuated.
Late Monday, however, his heart sank as he heard that the final U.S. flights had left Kabul’s airport, followed by the blistering staccato sound of Taliban gunfire, celebrating what they saw as their victory over America.
“They lied to us,” Habibi said of the U.S. government. He is among hundreds of American citizens and green card holders stranded in the Afghan capital.
There’s no moving past Afghanistan while Americans remain stranded there with no way out. Bear in mind that we haven’t even yet had the Taliban exploit trapped Americans for their own purposes. Hopefully that won’t play out in public, but the Biden administration will have to pay through the nose to get citizens and LPRs out. Their only hope is that the Taliban will exploit their hostages quietly, rather than turn them into an exponentially larger version of 1979 Tehran.
What’s more, Biden’s credibility on any other policy remains under a pall after lying about sticking around until all Americans had been evacuated. He told George Stephanopoulos explicitly that the US would remain in place until they could complete that evacuation. Furthermore, as House Republican Jim Banks said on the day that promise was broken, the Biden administration knew weeks ago that the Afghan government would collapse and didn’t bother to change directions to at least secure egress for Americans, let alone keep the Afghan army in place:
Any attempt to shift away from the massive exfiltration efforts needed to get Americans out of Afghanistan will look like a distraction on several levels. It will certainly undermine the idea that the administration remains “singularly focused” on their safety. The effort to distract others from this national disgrace will be so transparent as to practically demand that people point it out. And finally, it will make Biden look as though he’s completely disconnected from reality.
Does anyone remember the kind of media coverage that Bush got for “now watch this drive”?
The criticism of Bush golfing during a war brought him so much heat that Bush gave up the game during his presidency as a result. This “domestic refocus” is even more on point given that Biden ran out on American citizens and LPRs by his own choice, and now has to somehow find ways to get them out. Until he gets every last American, LPR, and Afghan ally out of Taliban hands, no one should give a rat’s ass what his thoughts on budgets and infrastructure might be.
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