Anchor Andrea Mitchell commented on a photo released from the White House on Sunday showing an isolated Biden amid the gravest foreign policy crisis of his presidency. As the U.S. has withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban has seized control and the Afghan government has collapsed, sparking panic and chaos in the nation as terrified citizens try to flee the impending terrorist rule.
The photo of Biden, who returned from Camp David to the White House on Monday amid bipartisan outcry over vacationing amid the crisis, conveyed the wrong message to his critics.
“It conveys an isolation of this president, going to Camp David this weekend, and not being surrounded by his team and perhaps hearing more interaction and more pushback, as well as their insistence that they needed the element of surprise to get U.S. troops out safely,” Mitchell said to Gen. Barry McCaffrey.
“Yeah, well, the photo of Mr. Biden sitting there alone was really bizarre,” McAffrey said. “He should have gone back to the White House. He should have been engaged with his entire staff. That is very odd, bad political optics. None of that is important. The only thing that’s going on right now of any interest to the American policy apparatus is how do we get the remaining Americans through a Taliban perimeter into Kabul and out, and then withdraw the U.S. forces after them.
“In the short run, we’re in a perilous position militarily, and if the Taliban elect to obstruct the evacuation and claim the airspace, the only option we’ll have is to escalate militarily in a massive way. That’s what we do rather than leave people on the ground in Afghanistan. It’s a tricky situation and we should have seen this coming. This is crazy and the interpreters and the women and children, those decisions are done. They’re not coming out.”
MSNBC was hardly the only outlet to balk at the photo.
“Underscoring the sense that the U.S. was caught by surprise, the White House then released a photo of Biden on his retreat at Camp David, staring pensively at officials on a monitor, surrounded by empty seats,” Politico reported.
“On Sunday, Mr. Biden was publicly silent,” the New York Times wrote. “The White House released a photograph of him in a video briefing at Camp David. He appeared alone in the photo, his aides beaming in. And it was left to them to explain why he thought, in July, that the Afghan forces would put up a tough fight.”