Yesterday, Joe Biden nailed it. He stood before the American people and talked to them like adults about a very difficult situation. He explained what he is doing in Afghanistan and why. He took responsibility for what’s happening while admitting that the scenes we’re seeing are ugly and painful. He said out loud what a whole lot of Americans are thinking. It’s time to get out of there and damn the consequences.
Members of the press, on the other hand, are following predictable storylines. Journalists on the right are bashing him for abandoning the mission and predicting that all of our allies will lose trust in the U.S. as a global partner. Mainstream journalists are condemning the chaos of the exit and focusing on the very real threat to the tens of thousands of Afghans who helped Americans and their allies. Those on the left are criticizing the administration for not taking enough refugees. Their stories and opinions may be valid, but they don’t reflect the thoughts of most Americans.
Instead of being a liability for Biden, the withdrawal will become an achievement. He did what his predecessors wouldn’t or couldn’t do. He got us out of Afghanistan. We elected him to make tough decisions and he did it. Yesterday, he owned the decision and, regardless of what the media thinks about the situation, most Americans will look at that as leadership.
Biden understands what Trump does. The American people want us out of Afghanistan. That’s why Trump didn’t pay a political price for negotiating directly with the Taliban or reducing troop levels. Back then, all the conservatives and Republicans bashing Biden today were muted in their criticisms. But Trump was right about American opinion then and Biden is probably right now.
A year from now, all of the details of the withdrawal will be largely forgotten. What people will remember is that Biden got us out of Afghanistan and when he was criticized, he stood by his decision and took responsibility for it. What the media sees as a “catastrophe,” the rest of the country sees inevitable. It was never going to be easy to get out of the 20 year quagmire of Afghanistan. That’s why so many presidents kicked the can down the road. Biden did it.
Biden is on course to have the most successful first year of a presidency in recent history. He got the country’s economy rolling again with his stimulus package. His vaccine rollout showed a level of competency that his predecessor lacked. He got a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in the Senate that will both create jobs and fix our roads and bridges. He’s on the brink of getting a budget through Congress that will dramatically expand the social safety net. And he ended the war in Afghanistan. That’s a pretty good record.