The White House has begun airing their grievances about the press coverage of Biden’s Afghanistan disaster so far and is now pushing the media to give them their ‘props’ on the Afghanistan evacuations:
White House to media: We want our props on Afghanistan https://t.co/yhrNYjLB99
— POLITICO (@politico) August 25, 2021
In the span of a week, the White House went from struggling to explain a rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan to beating its chest.
Top Biden officials and administration allies have begun aggressively touting the success of their evacuation efforts in the war-torn country, offering frequent updates on the number of evacuees. They’ve framed the operation as historic — in line with the Berlin airlift — declared that they’re “over performing” their own metrics, and trumpeted the president as “defying expectations.”
It’s a startling 180 from the defensive crouch Biden and his team occupied just days ago, one that reflects the sense of combativeness that has emerged in the West Wing as they sort through the first major, sustained crisis of the administration. And while it’s sparked accusations that the president’s team is trying to divert attention away from a crisis of its own creation, Biden’s defenders stress that, for now at least, he deserves to crow.
“That’s not a shifting message. That’s the transition, that’s what’s happening on the ground. That’s a change of circumstances,” said Philippe Reines, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton who worked at the State Department in the Obama administration and alongside some of Biden’s foreign policy hands.
The White House’s new posture comes as U.S. personnel scramble to remove American citizens and Afghan officials before the last American troops are slated to leave the country on August 31. Over the past 10 days, Biden said on Tuesday, the United States had evacuated 70,700 people and more than 75,000 since July. All of this has taken place amidst confusion over the troop withdrawal deadline and reports of a blocked entryway to the Kabul airport following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country.
“We are moving thousands of people every day out of Afghanistan and to safety, in what is one of the biggest airlifts in world history,” a senior administration official said in a briefing with reporters Tuesday.
They may be moving a lot of people out of Afghanistan in a short amount of time, and of course that’s a good thing, but there are still people, including American citizens, that will undoubtedly be left behind after Biden refused to stand up to the Taliban and extend the deadlines for evacuations.
Look, don’t take it from me. It was the despicable Adam Schiff that said a couple of days ago, after a classified intel briefing, that it was unlikely Biden would be able to evacuate all Americans and allies by the 31st.
Given the fact that people may be left behind, it’s absurd for Team Biden to be touting this as some historic feat and demanding props for it. But that’s exactly what they are doing:
Buoyed by the evacuation numbers, aides and allies have gone from feeling beleaguered to galvanized, taking to social media and the airwaves to let out the grievances about press coverage they’ve been harboring privately since the crisis began, and to make the case that the White House’s accomplishments should get more credit and attention. They’ve noted that the evacuation figures exceed the estimates the administration initially put out and that the press corps said was possible.
“In fact, it didn’t take 2 weeks to evacuate 50,000. It took 10 days,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted in response to a CNN reporter questioning last week the U.S.’s ability to evacuate 50,000 people in two weeks. “Lots of work still to do, but it might be time for a bit of a reassessment by the media of this operation given the actual results.”
Among those making the most aggressive play to reshape press coverage of the current situation in Afghanistan has been White House chief of staff Ron Klain, who has taken to Twitter to amplify praise of the president and the military’s evacuation efforts. He retweeted Murphy’s comment as well as MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell calling it “the best run evacuation from a war America lost.” He’s spotlighted lesser known figures too, including RT-ing a retired IBM executive who compared the current mission to the Berlin airlift, the post-WWII era operation that was one of the largest humanitarian aid missions in history.
Picking up on the theme later Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee blasted out a news release titled: “President Biden Defies Expectations (Again), Delivers Results in Afghanistan.”
I saw this yesterday but was able to get to it. But it is true, the DNC totally pushed this garbage out:
The Democratic National Committee wants you to know: It's been a success. pic.twitter.com/Y1y8D7z8Si
— Byron York (@ByronYork) August 24, 2021
I would say it’s amazing how brazen the White House and their allies are being about this, but honestly I’m not shocked. Also, it won’t surprise me if it works, at least in the short term.
But history will recall that it was because of Biden that Afghanistan became a terrorist safe haven again like it was when we were attacked before 9/11. It was because of Biden that massive amounts of US military equipment, from helicopters to humvees to small arms, fell into the hands of one of the worst terrorist organizations in the world. It was because of Biden that Afghanistan became a humanitarian disaster again. And, assuming there are indeed Americans left behind, history will note that it was because of Biden’s hasty pullout and his cowardice in the face of Taliban demands.
So pardon me if I don’t join the hoopla in trying to paint this as some Biden success story. It’s one of the worst failures in American history and the media should continue to tout it as such.