Aug 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The defining image of Biden's Afghanistan exit

Mike Allen
Afghans running alongside US military plane
Photo verified by AP

Above, you see hundreds of desperate Afghans running alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it took off from Kabul yesterday.

Driving the news: The amateur video played around the world, and this photo is atop front pages across America, making it a defining image of the exit debacle — and, many Democrats fear, Joe Biden's presidency.

A legendary Democratic operative, and strong Biden supporter, told me: "Americans also wanted the Vietnam War to end. But its ending was traumatic and scarring, and definitely contributed to the impression that [President] Ford was bumbling and not in control of events."

  • Leon Panetta, SecDef and CIA director under President Obama, told CNN's John King: "I think of John Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs [botched Cuba invasion in 1961]. It unfolded quickly and the president thought that everything would be fine. And that was not the case." 
  • David Axelrod tweeted after Biden's speech yesterday that the president "made a compelling case for WHY we are leaving Afghanistan ... He didn’t do as well taking responsibility for HOW we got out, and the obvious failure to anticipate events."
Afghans attempt to climb onto US military plane
People try to climb onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 as it taxis down the runway in Kabul yesterday. Photo verified by AP

A senior national security official expressed deep frustration to Axios' Hans Nichols about withdrawal plans left behind by President Trump.

  • "There was no [Trump] plan to evacuate our diplomats to the airport," the official said. "When we got in, on Jan. 20, we saw that the cupboard was bare." Keep reading.

Some House and Senate Democrats want part of their $3.5 trillion budget plan to go to refugee resettlement for those fleeing Afghanistan, Axios' Sarah Mucha, Alexi McCammond and Hans Nichols report.

  • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called for the U.S. to "marshal an international coalition to evacuate every Afghan citizen who is fleeing for their lives." Keep reading.

📺 Coming attractions: President Biden sits down tomorrow with ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Tonight at 9 p.m. ET, Fox News' Sean Hannity interviews former President Trump on Afghanistan and other topics.

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