White House officials were silent for a significant length of time while the worst crisis of the Biden Administration so far unfolded in Afghanistan. While Americans watched the disastrous conclusion of the 20 year war in Afghanistan, many wondered what the president was doing. Biden was not in Washington D.C. and Press Secretary Jen Psaki took a break from her duties, responding to emails with automated replies.
White House silent as crisis unfolds
The White House was clearly shocked by the pace with which the Taliban was able to advance through Afghanistan and destroy the large and well equipped Afghan National Army.
President Biden chose to proceed with a planned vacation while the situation deteriorated, though it has now been cut short.
American officials repeated adjusted their predictions for the future of Afghanistan as the Taliban closed in on the capital and took the country with minimal resistance.
The Biden Administration did not secure the safety of thousands of American citizens and Afghans who had assisted American troops before the rapid collapse of the Kabul regime.
Some Americans who were trapped behind Taliban lines in Kabul were reportedly unable to find any way to contact the U.S. government and escape from the city.
While Kabul fell, Americans saw only one image released by the White House showing Joe Biden at Camp David, with no other information about what the president himself was doing.
Biden, who last month confidently stated that there would be no repeat of what happened in Saigon in 1975, has quickly come under criticism for his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.
While ending the American presence in Afghanistan remains overwhelmingly popular with the American public, many in the United States and abroad are questioning how so many aspects of the withdrawal were so poorly handled.
Biden and other White House officials have thus far not expressed any regret, instead focusing on defending the broader decision to leave as quickly as possible.
The Biden Administration wanted credit for ending the longest war in American history in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and they still appear to be willing to argue that it was the right move.
With the disaster still unfolding in Kabul it is becoming evident that the White House will at least be forced to address the fact that so many practical aspects of the withdrawal were horribly botched.
Americans might still approve of the decision to pull out of Afghanistan; the failure of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Jen Psaki, and others to show any leadership during the worst of the crisis may prove to be just as memorable.