White House officials believe Americans’ horror over graphic images of the chaos in Kabul and pleas from Afghans who fear they will be killed by the Taliban will morph into support for the president’s decision to pull troops from the country by Aug. 31 after a 20-year war.
They expect the Afghanistan story to recede from the headlines, replaced by the resurgence in COVID-19 cases, the economic recovery and other issues, people familiar with the matter said.
“The path forward for them in the fall remains Covid and infrastructure,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a former communications director in the Obama White House who is close to the Biden administration. “The most important facts about Afghanistan remain that he got the U.S. out, in terms of what the public cares about.”
We are now well into September, and Afghanistan has largely, though not entirely, disappeared from the headlines. And how is President Biden doing?
Gallup has his approval rating down to 43 percent, with 53 percent of respondents disapproving of the job Biden is doing:
Biden’s latest approval rating further cements the fact that the honeymoon phase of his presidency is behind him. Political independents, who were part of the coalition that helped him defeat Trump in 2020, now largely disapprove of the job he is doing as president.
Though Americans were generally supportive of the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the chaotic and deadly way in which it was executed has played into the decrease in Biden’s approval rating. So, too, has the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Although Vice President Harris’ approval rating is slightly higher than the president’s, she is also underwater with independents. Americans continue to rate Congress’ job negatively and to express general dissatisfaction with the way the nation is being governed.
Sure, we’re not watching footage of desperate Afghans falling from U.S. aircraft these days. But the horrific sights and consequences of the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle demonstrated to Americans that they’ve bought a lemon. Joe Biden is not as wise as his campaign promised, not as empathetic as the media insisted, and not as deft at strengthening international alliances as he claimed. He pledged to get every American who wanted to leave out, and then he forgot about that promise. Biden turned out to be exactly what his critics claimed: an aging, thin-skinned, prickly, dull-edged blowhard with terrible instincts and far too much faith in his own ability to persuade, who stubbornly sticks to whatever idea he’s convinced is going to work out, no matter how many times his top advisors warn him otherwise.
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