What Voters in a California Swing District Say About Afghanistan
In a battleground district, even some Trump voters said they were hesitant to hold President Biden accountable for the casualties and chaos in the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan.
At a time of deep partisan division, in a Southern California congressional district where Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans, voters interviewed over the weekend were largely united on at least one issue: After a two-decade war, President Biden was right to pull American troops out of Afghanistan.
Biden answers his critics on Afghanistan. Forcefully.
Speaking to critics who argue the United States could’ve secured Afghanistan at low cost and low risk, he said, “I don’t think enough people understand how much we’ve asked of the one percent of this country who put that uniform on.” This was both Biden the president and Biden the father speaking. He understands how the war chewed through American lives and families for no discernible gain. “There is nothing low-grade or low-risk or low-cost about any war,” he said.
Those who have already decided they know better will call him “defiant” or “defensive.” Americans watching from home may see something different: An unvarnished and unsparing explanation of the last two weeks. A president from time to time must defend his decisions (though Biden also left no doubt that his choices were circumscribed by the deal negotiated by the previous administration that empowered the Taliban and let loose thousands of terrorists). The speech was one of the most forceful of his career, as much laying out the rationale for his own actions as an indictment of the mind-set that supports indefinite wars whose cost is borne by others. For a White House on defense for two weeks, this was as robust a defense as one could imagine.
The Problem With Media
Groupthink and economic precarity go together
When the news industry becomes populated by highly-educated people who live in the affluent neighborhoods of two cities, the realities of America are shunted out. Groupthink dominates. The media world was always clubby, particularly in the big cities, and Robert Caro’s The Power Broker will remind you how shoddy midcentury reporters could be. But since that vanished world was bigger, dispersed among many towns and cities, the insularity could only matter so much. A reporter in San Diego was not commenting on the filtered sunset photo of a reporter in Brooklyn. Rituals naturally formed and a consensus could be aggressively managed and manufactured—read Noam Chomsky for that—but there were limitations to such endeavors in a world where there really were many more working reporters throughout America. Thirty thousand jobs are gone just since 2008. In this new era, there is the poisonous brew of precarity and Twitter, where journalists meet daily to network, suck up, and joust with shared enemies. Twitter doesn’t matter like Facebook matters, but it can function, at times, like an assignment editor, with reporters and editors alike sifting through feeds for ideas. Twitter controversies become reported controversies. Meta-narratives evolve into hard narratives.
Remember, the problem with journalism is the ongoing economic instability, not blue checks with melding opinions. The two, though, can bleed into one another, as reporters fret over offending colleagues or future editors by conveying wrongthink.
Greg Sargent/Plum Line:
How to prevent the next Jan. 6, as revealed in an important new analysis
We cannot say we weren’t warned.
As the select committee examining the Jan. 6 violence ramps up, one of its lesser-known goals is to offer “recommendations” to prevent a future effort to overthrow U.S. democracy through mob assault and intimidation.
As it happens, there is a critical way Congress can minimize the possibility of another Jan. 6 — by addressing glaring legal vulnerabilities in the presidential electoral process that encouraged Donald Trump’s movement to try to overturn his loss, creating the conditions for the worst outbreak of U.S. political violence in recent times.
We’re talking about revising the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887. That may sound dry and unexciting, but it would shore up hidden weaknesses that made the 2020 breakdown possible.
How to be a crisis president when crises don’t unite the country anymore
If you worked at the White House, what was the first item on your agenda on Monday morning? The dangerous final hours of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, with terrorists seeking every opportunity to attack our troops as they depart? The devastation wrought by Hurricane Ida, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Gulf Coast? Or the alarming surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at a moment when the nation is desperately hoping to get back to a semblance of normality?
All presidents are crisis managers, but tackling three at once is the equivalent of having to walk, chew gum and play the cello all while dodging beer bottles thrown by hecklers. As a result, an administration that asks to be judged by its professionalism and competence is under pressure from political opponents and even some allies. The question for President Biden is not just about how to handle any one of these calamities, but about how to be president in a country that no longer unites in response to catastrophes.
“Biden came into a crisis presidency, and nothing has changed,” a senior administration official told me, citing the parlous state of the economy when Biden took office, the need to quickly develop a nationwide covid-19 vaccination system and the massive cyberattacks threatening critical U.S. infrastructure.
Dennis B. Ross/NY Times:
Stop the Doomsaying. U.S. Credibility Will Weather Afghanistan.
Vietnam, cited so often in recent days, was undoubtedly a debacle. But it did not spell the end of American leadership on the world stage, nor did it lead others to believe they could not depend on the United States. And since then, there have been many other geopolitical challenges and top-level decisions (or lack thereof) that have cast doubt on American credibility. They did not, however, lead to a waning of American influence.
During the Carter administration, the Iran hostage crisis — marked by a failed rescue mission — dragged on for more than a year as the rest of the world witnessed American impotence. Following the loss of 241 Marines in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, President Ronald Reagan vowed to make the perpetrators pay. Within a few months, however, Mr. Reagan withdrew all forces from Lebanon. The United States never retaliated for the bombing.
During the Clinton administration, terrorists bombed the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. airmen. Despite tough talk and access to information that implicated Iran, the United States didn’t retaliate then, either.
The State Department deserves more credit for its effort to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan
In some cases, State Department employees had multiple conversations in a single day with a single American who was vacillating between staying and leaving. While Americans might find it incredible that anyone would want to stay, those still in Afghanistan (some dual nationals, some green-card holders) had to weigh factors including the fate of extended family, the prospect of severing communal ties and their hopes of building Afghanistan’s future.
When the last plane takes off with evacuees, it is possible some of the 250 might not make it out. It is also possible, though not probable, that some Americans who never registered and never contacted the State Department — or who registered but failed to respond to all those emails, texts, calls and public messages — will remain and still want to leave. Some Americans who said they wanted to stay could change their minds.
What’s the plan for them? As you might imagine, the administration has been vague on its ironclad promise to get Americans out. On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Blinken was cagey, declining to provide details of the “mechanisms” State might have. There certainly remains the possibility of rescue operations.
Jamelle Bouie/NY Times:
Do Republicans Actually Want the Pandemic to End?
Joe Biden, in his 2020 campaign for president, promised to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. With additional aid to working families and free distribution of multiple effective vaccines, he would lead the United States out of its ongoing public health crisis.
I think you can see where this is going.
Rather than work with him to vaccinate the country, Biden’s Republican opposition has, with only a few exceptions, done everything in its power to politicize the vaccine and make refusal to cooperate a test of partisan loyalty. The party is, for all practical purposes, pro-Covid. If it’s sincere, it is monstrous. And if it’s not, it is an unbelievably cynical and nihilistic strategy. Unfortunately for both Biden and the country, it appears to be working.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.