by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden was scheduled to deliver a speech on Friday to reassure the public about his efforts to evacuate Americans and allies from Afghanistan. It started over 45 minutes late, representing how little related to the withdrawal goes according to plan.
This came only hours after the White House sounded an uncertain note about Biden’s travel schedule, delaying a trip to Wilmington as several people elicited criticism at the administration’s attempts to project a “business as usual” posture amid the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Biden was elected as a calm and steady hand to counteract former President Donald Trump who was erratic, had frequent personnel turnover and feuds, and whose advisers included political neophytes and colorful characters. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush memorably branded Trump a “chaos candidate” during the 2016 Republican primaries.
That argument failed for Bush, as the Republican primary electorate was looking for a disruptor. But it succeeded for Biden as a critical mass of voters wanted conventional and experienced political leadership during a pandemic and the resulting economic disruption.
Biden is a former two-term vice president who served 36 years in the Senate, including a stint as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the beginning of the war on terror. His administration is staffed by people who served under Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Nevertheless, allies complained about mistakes during the withdrawal from Afghanistan that they would have expected from Trump. Biden denied on Friday he had heard any pushback from allies on how the messy exit was unfolding, with the Western-backed government in Kabul collapsing more quickly than U.S. leaders anticipated. …
… That magnifying glass has not been especially flattering to Biden over the last week. His attempts to reassure voters from the podium as he spoke on Afghanistan in public have sat uneasily alongside the chaotic images from Kabul on television screens and even the press briefings from the Pentagon.