Republicans Prioritize Slamming Biden Rather Than Backing American Efforts In Afghanistan
Does Anyone Think Of The GOP As Even Vaguely Patriotic Anymore?
Did you get the idea that congressional Republicans have been behaving like a pack of ravenous hyenas in regard to Afghanistan over the last couple of weeks? Progressives are suddenly in the awkward position of defending a flawed conservative president against neo-fascist Republicans, in a feeding frenzy of naked partisanship. Biden was completely right-- as was Trump, believe it or not-- in the desire to get the U.S. the hell out of Afghanistan. Trump, of course, was incapable of getting anything useful done, but Biden actually took on the military industrial complex and did it. If there are villains in this story-- beyond the regular culprits in the military industrial complex and among their allies in the media and Congress-- it is Bush-Cheney and Obama. And, historically, extricating the apparatus of a failed occupation has never been safe, let alone elegant. Americans have trouble seeing themselves as an occupying power of another country, making it easier for the GOP-- and the media-- to pounce with some significant effect.
Around dawn this morning The Hill's Cristina Marcos and Scott Wong were out ahead of the talking heads shows: Republicans hit Biden over Afghanistan, with eye on midterms. Deranged and useless right-wing partisans are setting their hair on fire and screeching about Biden resigning, being impeached or being kicked out of office by his own cabinet with the 25th Amendment. That perfectly describes intellectually-challenged extremist showboats like Marjorie Traitor Greene (Q-GA), western North Carolina Nazi Madison Cawthorn, Trumpist Senate candidate Mo Brooks, and child sex trafficker Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
"But other Republicans," wrote Marcos and Wong, "are also calling for action. Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew (DCCC Blue Dog-turned R-NJ) introduced a resolution with a dozen colleagues on Friday to censure Biden. [Desperate] Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6, called on Biden to 'resign and turn the job over to someone who can handle it.' So did Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), the top Republican on the Ethics Committee, who could run for a leadership post next year. 'As the president has said repeatedly, the buck stops with him-- and I agree. The buck must stop here. President Biden has demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as commander-in-chief, and, therefore, must resign,' Walorski said in a statement."
Obviously, Biden's not resigning, Pelosi's not impeaching him and there's no member of his Cabinet interested in the 25th Amendment. "But in calling for impeachment and resignation," wrote Marcos and Wong, "Republicans are trying to demonstrate to their base how they would provide a check on the Biden presidency if voters hand them the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. Indeed, many top Republicans see Biden’s botched, chaotic and now deadly handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as a major military and political disaster that will propel the GOP back into power on Capitol Hill. Republicans only need to flip a net of five seats to win back the House; they need to flip just one to take the Senate. 'There’s not a member of Congress on either side of the aisle who doesn’t think that Republicans will be back in the House majority,' Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (IN), an Afghanistan war veteran and leadership ally, told The Hill. 'But now the Senate is in play too as voters demand a check on the dangerous and reckless Biden administration.'"
There are other signs that Republicans view the tough, sometimes over-the-top rhetoric as good politics, especially at a time of ever-growing partisan polarization when there’s less incentive for them to be voices of moderation.
Ambitious lawmakers angling for higher office are joining the chorus of GOP voices calling on Biden to resign. That list includes GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is running for governor of New York, as well as Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, who are both vying for the GOP nomination for an open Senate seat in Missouri.
Biden “should resign immediately. His news conference should have been four words: ‘I resign effective immediately,’” Long told The Hill.
“He made the fatally flawed decision to ignore his military personnel, his intelligence people and the Intelligence Committee in the House when they all told him it would be an unrecoverable, unmitigated disaster to abandon Bagram Air Base before all embassy personnel, Americans that wanted to leave, and our Afghan allies were extracted safely before we pulled our troops out.”
However, the two top Republicans on Capitol Hill, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, haven’t endorsed such severe measures. They’re laying the blame entirely at Biden’s feet but have opted for a more restrained message of how Republicans would provide a check on his presidency if they controlled Congress.
McCarthy is pressing Pelosi to bring the chamber back into session for more classified briefings and to vote on legislation that would delay the self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan until all Americans who want to leave are evacuated.
That bill, authored by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), would prevent any troop reduction in Afghanistan until the president certifies that all U.S. citizens and permanent residents are evacuated. However, it would allow an exception if the Defense Secretary determines that U.S. forces are facing “imminent hostilities.”
Biden is insistent upon adhering to the Tuesday deadline-- an extension of the original May 1 date the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban last year-- in part because of concerns that the security situation will deteriorate further and put more Americans at risk.
Yet McCarthy, ever-mindful of not wanting to alienate his party’s right wing in his ambitions for the Speaker’s gavel, did not shut down the GOP calls for Biden’s resignation or impeachment.
“There will be a day of reckoning,” McCarthy told reporters in the Capitol on Friday.
Yes, a day of reckoning-- another word for election day. But which side are the voters going to come down on-- the warmongers and fascists or those who actually do want to put America first?
Former Orlando congressman and current Senate candidate Alan Grayson shared his take on that with me this morning. "Ask the GOPhers what Biden should do instead, and the answers are always the same: 'kill them all, and let God sort it out.' That advice was highly dubious in 1209, when the Crusaders attacked Bezier; now, it goes against eight centuries of improving moral scruples-- at least for some of us. The lesson to be learned is this: don’t elect a clowish, self-absorbed, stupid, dishonest fool as President, and let him tie the hands of his successor with a shocklingly stupid 'peace agreement.' Or maybe just don’t invade and occupy other countries in the first place."
"Biden," reported a trio of Washington Post writers this morning, "is mired in the most devastating month of his tenure in office-- struggling to contain a deadly crisis in Afghanistan, an unyielding pandemic and other setbacks that have sent waves of anger and worry through his party as his poll numbers decline... Many Democrats increasingly fear that the tenets of Biden’s presidency-- competence, calm and control-- can credibly be called into question for the first time, potentially laying a foundation for devastating consequences in the 2022 midterm elections."
“I reject the idea that the president's handling of a difficult situation has somehow undermined people's sense of his confidence,” said White House communications director Kate Bedingfield. “It’s showing people that he can lead at a difficult time, and that he has a steady hand and that he’s committed to transparency.”
She added, “No president can prevent bad things from happening on their watch. The test of leadership is what you do when a bad thing happens. And I think the American people have seen him move quickly and consistently over the last couple of weeks.”
Some party leaders are trying to quell worry about Biden's political standing with sharp warnings to the rank and file.
“Stop bed-wetting and get back to work,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Maloney (D-NY), who predicted the party would retain its House majority in the midterms. “We’re going to deliver results for the American people.”
...As the summer draws to a close, some Democrats see an unexpected realignment underway in the party. Centrist Democrats, who were Biden’s base when he ran for president, have emerged as some of the loudest critics of Biden’s Afghanistan strategy-- and a bloc of moderates nearly derailed plans to advance his economic agenda. Many liberal Democrats, who have long pressed for a troop withdrawal and are heartened by some of Biden’s domestic priorities, have rallied behind him.
“The irony is that the people who have had the president’s back the most in the House are the progressives,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a Congressional Progressive Caucus member who has defended Biden on Afghanistan.
Rep. Susan Wild (New Dem-PA), seen as potentially vulnerable in the midterms, said the Afghanistan evacuation process was “egregiously mishandled” even as she supported Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from the country. Wild said she has an obligation to conduct oversight and wants answers to why the mission went “so badly” and was “so poorly executed.”
But Wild is more optimistic about the political implications, voicing confidence that Democrats will keep their House majority in the midterms on the strength of Biden’s domestic agenda. “There is no overwhelming sense of doom among Democratic front-liners,” she said, referring to the most at-risk members of the caucus.
...“Donald Trump spent his four years investing in billionaires and corporations and continuing to fund the forever wars,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). “Joe Biden thus far has spent his first eight months bringing the forever wars to a close and making historic investments in regular people. That’s a story that wins, but I don’t know we’ve done a good enough job yet of telling it.”