DEMOCRATS are praying that Americans will have forgotten the Kabul debacle by 2022 and let them keep control of Congress. This would require the quasi-impossible – an apology to the American people for choosing Joe Biden as their candidate for president and Kamala Harris as his designated successor.
Naturally, this will not happen, although a political reckoning is unavoidable for an unforced disaster on this scale. Democrats cannot repudiate their own president. Politicians rarely admit to mistakes. But the public do not forget, as John Major discovered a full five years after Black Wednesday.
With the exception of Richard Nixon, presidents do not resign when they make catastrophic errors. Nixon at least had the experienced Gerald Ford to take over. No one thinks that the untested Harris is the solution to the Biden problem. His departure would not alleviate the competence issue.
Americans and the Democratic party are stuck with the current White House duo and their tragically demonstrated ineptitude until the end of 2024.
The 2022 congressional mid-terms offer the only safety valve for Americans to break the Democrats’ hold on complete power in Washington by giving Republicans a majority in one or both houses of Congress, which would limit what Biden can do.
What Biden achieved in his withdrawal from Afghanistan, followed by the terrorist attack at Kabul airport, has discredited the entire administration and humiliated every American. Washington is in uncharted territory. Nixon discredited only himself. Beforehand, no one had questioned his presidential abilities until Watergate blew him up. Biden is a different matter altogether.
The Democratic Party knew when it threw the nomination to him in 2020 that he was a politician of mediocre pedigree who was too old for the job and was clearly in an alarming state of mental decline that could only worsen.
The error was compounded when Biden chose Harris to be his running mate because she was female and black. Harris, a prosecutor by trade, had made a career in politics but is not a politician. This lacuna has been painfully obvious in her performance both as a senator and as vice president.
Democrats gambled that a team of Obama administration veterans and members of the Washington elite would run the White House with Biden as a genial figurehead. Deferred to by a supportive media, he would play a minimal public role while fronting the enactment of the party’s progressive agenda.
Probably, had there not been Donald Trump, who divided the country as sharply as Nixon and emboldened the Democratic Left, there would not have been Joe Biden as a compromise, reassuring ordinary Americans but manipulated from behind the scenes by party professionals eager to push progressivism.
In a real-life echo of Marquez’s novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Afghanistan, or something like it, was inevitable because of Biden’s weakness in an office where 9/11 moments are a constant nightmare.
The presidency is the ultimate leadership job, and US credibility in the world flows from the White House. Whatever grievances people held against Trump, no one denied he was his own man and, to the fury of Democrats, his policies worked. The economy boomed and there were jobs for all.
There is no expectation that Biden can recover from this despite his aggressive self-justification during unavoidable public appearances. His behaviour explains why there have been no resignations by the advisers involved. If Biden won’t say sorry, why should they sacrifice their careers?
Afghanistan blew the lid off his presidency. Over seven stumbling months, Covid management has continued to be chaotic and illegal immigrants have overrun the southern border. Inflation has reappeared as a result of a spending spree promising new social entitlements which the Democrats are forcing through Congress.
Afghanistan meanwhile has been abandoned but is not going away. The Taliban are in firm control and the US administration has admitted that it will not be able to evacuate all of its own nationals or Afghans who co-operated with America’s democracy-building experiment. They will be pawns in US-Taliban dealings in the coming months.
Will progressive America, represented by scores of monied lobbies, quietly accept the reversion of Afghan women to their previous un-emancipated status which the American military and NGO presence was supposed to end for ever?
What does Biden do if Afghanistan again becomes a base for global terrorist activities, and how does he rebuild trust in the Middle East where US allies are already alarmed by his desire for deeper cooperation with their rival in Iran?
Americans are discovering that when they pick a bad president and a bad vice-president as his back-up, there are no easy solutions.