While Joe Biden has caved to political pressure and decided to speak on the Afghanistan debacle this afternoon, Nancy Pelosi is trying to soften the blow by circulating talking points from the White House. Josh Rogin obtained and shared the document on social media.
The reaction to them has not been good, leaving people gobsmacked that the administration was caught this flat-footed and thinks people are dumb enough to buy their excuses.
Here are the WH Afghanistan talking points Pelosi's office just sent around. They are not good:
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) August 16, 2021
Let's go over some of the highlights — and there are a lot of them given the sheer absurdity on display.
Biden claims that the administration knew Kabul could fall and that all contingencies were planned for, calling it a “distinct possibility.” Yet, that's in stark contrast to their language just a month ago when Biden expressed overwhelming confidence in the Afghan military and insisted that the embassy would not be evacuated. As for the supposed meticulous planning, that's obviously untrue. There is no way the plan was to rush in C-17s to an overrun airport as people fall to their deaths trying to escape by hanging onto the aircraft.
The president also says that the rushing in of troops (that number now up to 7,000) was all foreseen and planned. That doesn't pass the smell test. Why pull troops out only to have to redeploy more a week later? Such a move doesn't make any sense unless you assume the White House was caught flat-footed, which they clearly were.
Regarding the attempt to gloss over Biden's assertion that the Afghan military could take on the Taliban, that's also revisionist. Are we to believe that the administration and military officials had no idea about a supposed lack of will among the Afghan forces? That the only way to find that out was to watch the Taliban take over the country? Again, that doesn't pass the smell test.
Let's also deal with the claim that Biden didn't want to have to “surge” more troops into the country. That is painted as an inevitability by the talking points. But who was talking about doing that? And doesn't the deployment of 7,000 troops in a panicked evacuation attempt qualify as a surge? Biden's talking points contradict what he's actually doing, and that shouldn't be lost on anyone reading them.
Later, the talking points claim that the administration is “in the process” of evacuating American citizens and special issuance visas. But why was that process not completed prior to pulling combat troops out? Especially regarding American citizens, including government personnel? That should have been a no-brainer. Yet, here we are.
Trump is mentioned as having already drawn down US service members from 13,000 to 2,500. Again, though, why pull the last 2,500 before the evacuation was completed? It just doesn't make sense.
Lastly, we see a claim that Biden will hold the Taliban accountable with “consequences” if they give Al Qaeda a safe haven in the future. What are those consequences, though? You'd think that would be something shared with the American people at this point. Are we going to reinvade? Use air power? Use meaningless economic sanctions? This is the time to be specific, not obfuscate further.
The entire document is a joke. That Pelosi saw fit to circulate it is a profound lapse in judgment on her part. It only makes Biden look worse. Yet, it does serve as a preview of what we are likely to hear Biden say in his speech later. Lots of excuses and blaming others. Get ready for it.