Considering President Joe Biden’s approval rating on how he’s handled the crisis so far stands at a mere 25%, it’s safe to say there is just no spinning this administration’s Afghanistan policy as anything other than the epic failure it has quickly become.
While spin cycles come and go in politics and are to be expected, the one White House press secretary Jen Psaki put today on Biden’s Afghanistan fiasco might be a contender for the political record books. As per the norm, we can thank Fox News reporter Peter Doocy for helping bring it to light.
Doocy hit out at Biden on a number of fronts during today’s press briefing, including on the critical issue of the thousands of Americans who are reportedly still stranded in Afghanistan. It’s alarmingly clear that key senior members of Biden’s team – including Biden himself – are not on the same page regarding not only how to get the remaining Americans left out of the country but also as to just approximately how many are even there to begin with.
But one wouldn’t know that by listening to the answer an obviously agitated Psaki gave Doocy when he asked her about those stranded Americans. Here’s how that part of the exchange went down:
Doocy: “Does the President have a sense that most of the criticism is not of leaving Afghanistan? It’s the way that he has ordered it to happen by pulling the troops before getting these Americans who are now stranded. Does he have a sense of that?”
Psaki: “First of all, I think it is irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not. We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home. We are in touch with them via phone, via text, via email, via any way that we can possibly reach Americans to get them home if they want to return home.”
Doocy: “‘There are no Americans stranded’ is the White House’s official position on what is happening in Afghanistan right now?”
Psaki: “I’m just calling you out for saying we are stranding Americans in Afghanistan when we have been very clear that we are not leaving Americans who want to return home. We are going to bring them home and I think that’s important for the American public to hear and understand.”
PSAKI: "I think it's irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not."
DOOCY: "'There are no Americans stranded' is the White House's official position on what's happening in Afghanistan right now?" pic.twitter.com/0FEq5VkO6V
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 23, 2021
At another point in their tense back and forth, Doocy threw Biden’s “America is back” slogan back at the administration, and asked Psaki if Biden means “America is back” when we’re seeing Americans and Afghans alike being brutalized by the Taliban, and Afghan babies being thrown by their mothers over walls and barbed wire to safety and in hopes they can have better lives. Psaki didn’t like that question, either, and spun like a top.
“What the President meant,” Psaki began, still visibly flustered, “is that we are going to continue to lead in the world including being the leaders in evacuating not just our Afghan partners, not just American citizens, but now also our allies. And we have done that by evacuating approximately 42,000 people over the last month. That is Americans leading. That is our men and women in our military leading on the ground. Securing the airport after the Afghans fleed and didn’t secure the airport and ensuring that we are taking care of our partners as we promised to.”
DOOCY SMASH: "The President likes to say 'America is back.' But his policies have Americans getting beat up by the Taliban and Afghans handing babies over barbed wire fences. Is that what he meant when he said, 'America is back?'"
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) August 23, 2021
I think it’s safe to say that when stranded Americans are having to reach out to members of Congress in order to try and secure a way out of Afghanistan that the Biden administration is, in fact, not in touch with every single American who wants to leave the country. Further, when you are unsure on the approximate number of those who are stranded and want to come home, then not only can you not possibly be in contact with all of them but you clearly don’t have a good handle on what’s going on – period.
Simply put, there’s a lot of gaslighting going on right now at a time when Americans here at home and abroad and in the center of the chaos deserve the truth. Unfortunately, Psaki was not the person to bring that truth today.