Republicans are having a field day going after President Biden … and to think, we’re more than a year away until the mid-term elections.
The president already has been catching heat from the GOP on his proposed $3.5 trillion spending spree that’s before Congress, which has provided plenty of press-release fodder for Idaho Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo. Risch has branded the plan as an attempt by Biden and Democrats to turn the U.S. into a socialist nation. Crapo has called the plan “reckless.” Being in the minority, there’s not much Risch and Crapo can do to stop that Democratic steamroller, aside from expressing their objections and casting “no” votes.
But the spending package is, excuse the pun, small potatoes compared to the president’s recent actions in Afghanistan. And not all the heat has come from the GOP side, although Republicans have been quite vocal.
Risch, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the president’s action was taken “without any clear plan to protect our interests, our citizens and our closest friends.” Afghanistan will now serve as a future platform for terrorist attacks against the United States and allies.
“The Taliban always has and always will be a terrorist organization, and it will support al Qaeda’s reemergence. We cannot treat it or its leaders as a legitimate government,” Risch said. “The situation at the Kabul airport only highlights how little thought the Biden administration put into taking care of American interests. President Biden and his administration must answer for this disaster. It didn’t have to be this way.”
Crapo said the “haphazard withdrawal” from Afghanistan “is a failure of presidential leadership and was based on an arbitrary timeline, not on-the-ground intelligence.”
Former President Trump weighed in, calling Biden’s action “an embarrassment.” Of course, there’s no guarantee that Trump — who wanted American troops out by May 1, would have produced a better result. He talks tough about what he would do with the Taliban, but any kind of retaliation would have been tough with American troops getting out of Dodge. One thing that is fairly certain is that Idaho senators would have put the best spin on the situation if Trump’s exit plan had failed.
But political speculation only counts in coffee shops. Whether Trump would have done better or worse is a matter of debate for the television talking heads. Biden has to live in real time and should be judged accordingly.
One point that most people seem to agree with is that withdrawal needed to happen at some point — whether it was May 1, or today.
“President Biden is right to call for an end to the 20-year war,” said former Idaho Democratic Congressman Larry LaRocco. “Like the English and Russians before us, we were viewed as invaders and occupiers. This perception fueled the national will of the Taliban. Our mission in Afghanistan ended with Bin Laden’s death. President Biden kept his word. The focus on counter-terrorism, humanitarian relief and refugees must now begin in concert with the world community.”
But did it have to be this messy? The president expressed “surprise” that the Taliban worked so rapidly in taking over Afghanistan. This revelation came from a man who served eight years as vice president and a long career in the Senate overseeing foreign policy.
Former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, for one, isn’t buying the president’s explanation.
“He miscalculated? We saw them riding to Kabul on their horses. Hell, you could see the dust clouds on the horizon. They were coming — and in many ways, they are still that primitive,” Craig said. “For (Biden) not to know, not to be informed, not to have advanced with his military a strategy to require a staged exit before the military is unbelievable. It’s not just unbelievable, but inexcusable.”
Craig, a Trump supporter, thinks the former president would have handled the situation better — working with the military and others to produce a more graceful exit strategy.
“If this style of exit happened under Trump, you can rest assured that I would be every bit as critical. This was a boondoggle under the first order,” Craig said.
And one that will live in infamy — or at least until the mid-term elections.
Malloy is a longtime Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.