Afghanistan continues to devolve into absolute chaos, with the latest reports being that Taliban forces are within miles of Kabul. Once they take the airport, it's going to further complicate the attempted withdrawal of all U.S. personnel. As I type this, around 5,000 troops are headed back into harm's way to try to salvage things.
For his part, Joe Biden did finally put out a statement, attempting to blame everyone but himself for the decisions he made. Yet, some of the hottest takes are coming from the Never Trump contingent.
To start, guess who's really to blame here?
Hugh, I'm perfectly happy to heap blame on Biden. You are the one who refuses to acknowledge the reality that Trump deserves his share too (and so does Obama, the Pentagon, the Afghan gov etc.). You're being a wild-eyed partisan in the face of this calamity. 1/ https://t.co/FscoewNZqF
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) August 14, 2021
Of all the things going on in Afghanistan, is anyone surprised that the one thing that gets Goldberg to start tweeting is that Trump isn't getting enough blame?
Let's note that Trump has not been president for seven months. Biden was under no obligation to honor anything Trump negotiated. In fact, Biden went out of his way to claim that he had made his own plan to get out of Afghanistan, going so far as to try to take political credit for it. The president wanted everyone to know he was in charge — until things started to go badly. The convenience of that shouldn't be lost on anyone.
Stephen Miller (the other one) pointed that out in response.
Now that it's a complete and utter catastrophe, the coalition of the very concerned has decided to spread the blame around.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) August 15, 2021
Then there's Liz Cheney, who mentioned Trump first and foremost in her statement, though, she did also hit Biden as well. As an aside, pay attention to the fact that she never criticizes the failures of policy and military leadership in Afghanistan, only that we are leaving. That kind of shallow take, which doesn't lay out a real path forward, is exactly why public support for the war is practically non-existent.
The Trump/Biden calamity unfolding in Afghanistan began with the Trump administration negotiating with terrorists and pretending they were partners for peace, and is ending with American surrender as Biden abandons the country to our terrorist enemies. https://t.co/PQ1i5W6zZt
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) August 14, 2021
Here's the thing. We have no idea what a withdrawal would have looked like under Trump. Would he have delayed things for three months and given the Taliban time to regroup? Would he have pulled military forces out before we had even evacuated our embassy? Would Trump have responded with force immediately, had the Taliban betrayed the negotiations? I can't say I know the answer to any of those questions for sure.
What I can say is that Trump isn't president, and ultimately, he didn't make the decision to end the war. Joe Biden, by his own admission in the above excerpt, did that. So, while we can speculate all day about how much blame Trump would have gotten if he were still president and had still withdrawn, it's ultimately an irrelevant exercise.
Donald Trump is not the president and he didn't lead the withdrawal. Joe Biden is and did, and he has been president for long enough to fully own his own decisions and the results of them. Cheney making Trump the top issue just feels forced in this context — probably because it is.
But I think the dumbest take came from Adam Kinzinger. Did he blame Biden for getting caught with his pants down? Of course not. Instead, he went after…Rand Paul?
Imagine seeing what's happening in Afghanistan and the first thing that comes to your mind is to go after a senator who has no power over any of this instead of, you know, the President of the United States who ordered it. https://t.co/KQbuBC6CWW
— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) August 15, 2021
I'll repeat it again – Joe Biden is president, not Donald Trump and certainly not Rand Paul.
I know this may be a difficult concept for some, but when someone runs for the White House, they are running to be responsible for everything that occurs during their tenure. That's especially true when that person wins and then makes the decision to do something and how to do it. Hypotheticals about past presidents and complaints about prior negotiations are just deflections.
Biden wanted this job (or at least, his wife really did) and now he has it. The buck stops with him. Orange man bad need not apply.