TOM LEONARD: No wonder even liberal allies are turning on Joe Biden
TOM LEONARD: Forgetful and deluded… no wonder even liberal allies are turning on ‘Sleepy’ Joe Biden
Now we know why his handlers do everything they can to keep him off TV and away from journalists. When Joe Biden finally took questions about his disastrous Afghanistan retreat and sat down for an interview with ABC News, it immediately became clear that the chaos inside Kabul airport was nothing compared to the chaos inside the US President’s head.
Defiant and defensive, he struggled to marshal basic facts, dates and previous statements he’s made in a car-crash exchange, which seemed equal parts incompetence and dishonesty.
The interview was conducted on Wednesday by George Stephanopoulos, an ex-Democrat adviser and former White House communications chief for Bill Clinton.
So it’s fair to say the President wasn’t exactly facing the Spanish Inquisition. Stephanopoulos might have seemed the obvious choice for a president who has relied heavily on the favour of a largely pro-Democrat US media, anxious to help him convince Americans he’s a huge improvement over Donald Trump. But Biden quickly became visibly annoyed by the pointed questioning of his decisions.
It’s clear the honeymoon is over – the US media is turning on the man it had lionised as the political saint after he delivered them from Trump. The romance has been killed off by Afghanistan and – to some degree – the Biden presidency in general.
When Joe Biden (pictured in March) finally took questions about his disastrous Afghanistan retreat, it immediately became clear that the chaos inside Kabul airport was nothing compared to the chaos inside the US President’s head, writes Tom Leonard
As Left-of-centre cable news network CNN, previously unable to say a bad word about Uncle Joe, damningly put it about Afghanistan: ‘Each attempt the administration makes to quell a furore that’s tarnishing America’s image only provokes more questions about its failures of planning and execution.’
Other vocal former Biden cheerleaders are falling into line behind CNN, as the scales fall from their eyes about a man whose political nous, mental competence and basic credibility are increasingly being called into question.
In his ABC News chat – only his ninth interview since taking office, lagging far behind Trump or Barack Obama – 78-year-old Biden more than justified his tumbling popularity ratings.
Foreign policy, we had always been assured, was the strong point of the politician who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 12 years.
We’d also been told – not least by Biden – that, after four years of Trump, his presidency would be marked by proficient and trustworthy government.
There was little of that in his interview, as he made another cack-handed attempt to absolve himself of any blame over Afghanistan.
In fact, he didn’t think it had been a failure at all.
Biden’s propensity for making gaffes has dogged his career, but his slip-ups in the broadcast were of a different nature, especially when he dismissively waved away mention of Afghans falling from US cargo planes, as ‘five days ago’ when it was actually two.
Hundreds of people run alongside a US Air Force C-17 transport plane, some climbing onto it, as it moves down a runway of the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday
One was reminded of Trump’s comment, made after taking a Montreal Cognitive Assessment for dementia last year, that: ‘Joe should take that test, because something’s going on… We can’t have somebody that’s not 100 percent.’
Yet Biden still has not agreed to take the MOCA test. His position hasn’t changed since his outburst back then in 2020, during which he angrily demanded to know, ‘Why the hell would I take a test?’ Mental acuity and competence are one thing; honesty another.
Mr Biden, who has long supported pulling out of Afghanistan, has repeatedly promised it would be orderly and secure.
But now, he insists he had always known it would be ‘chaotic’. Likewise, he claimed in July that a Taliban takeover was ‘highly unlikely’. Now he maintains that what he really meant was a Taliban takeover that would take just days was highly unlikely. Nobody, he adds, ever predicted that. Even this isn’t correct.
According to the New York Times, once so loyal to him, US intelligence agencies warned over the summer that the Afghan military would very rapidly crumble.
Civilians are pictured preparing to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Wednesday
When he wasn’t dissembling, Biden was just talking gobbledegook, making even the grammar-murdering Trump look like the model of precision and clarity.
On this sort of performance, it’s no wonder Americans are losing faith in him.
His approval ratings have slipped below 50 per cent for the first time in his presidency and there’s highly likely to be worse news to come from Central Asia, as he battles what CNN calls ‘the most significant self-inflicted drama’ of his presidency. ‘The war had to end. But it didn’t have to end in such chaos,’ says the NYT.
While the Washington Post, which endorsed Biden as ‘exceptionally well-qualified’ for the White House, on Wednesday published an opinion piece headlined: ‘Biden is wrong. There was nothing inevitable about the disaster in Afghanistan.’
It’s hardly surprising, then, that more than a little irritation crept into the President’s demeanour with ABC News.
Cuddly Uncle Joe isn’t used to feeling the sharp end of being leader of the free world.
And it’s as painful for him as it is worrying for everyone else.
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