Ed Puskas: This isn't what we were told to expect  

Ed Puskas

The main selling point of a Joe Biden presidency was that he wasn’t Donald Trump.

Biden was nice.

He was thoughtful.

He was predictable and competent.

He had four-plus decades of foreign policy experience as a U.S. Representative and Senator from Delaware.

After four years of turmoil, mean tweets, petulant behavior and daily battles between the White House and the press corps assigned there, a Biden Administration promised that the adults were going to be in charge again.

How is that working out for America?

How is it working out for some U.S. allies?

How is it working out for the families of 13 U.S. service members killed in Kabul?

Do not read this as an endorsement of Trump’s methods and — arguably — madness. It is not.

But it is becoming clear that Biden, who campaigned as the anti-Trump — when he campaigned at all — doesn’t seem much more competent than his predecessor. It could be argued that in some ways the current administration is conducting America’s business as though it is amateur hour at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ironic, isn’t it? We had to make Trump a one-term president in order to preserve our democracy. We needed to show that America was back and that a measured, reasonable man was in power.

Let’s leave the partisan criticism out of it. President Biden had every right to change or end previous policies that he didn’t like. Elections, in fact, have consequences. So while some of Biden’s decisions and many of his executive orders seemed designed to simply undo things Trump did, that’s politics.

But over time, Biden’s leadership style calls to mind more of a deer-in-the-headlights demeanor instead of that of a seasoned, unflappable executive. Unbending might be a better way to describe Biden and his team.

Witness the White House’s long refusal to admit that what developed on the U.S.-Mexico border was a crisis. When they did, it was mainly to blame the previous administration. Then there is the inconsistent messaging of the Biden Administration’s approach to border security vs. its vaccine mandate. If we’re going to mandate vaccines for private-sector companies, why not for the thousands of immigrants who cross the border?

Then there was the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. No one disputes that we’d been there way too long and had little to show for those efforts. Trump actually began the withdrawal process and most Americans seemed to back the idea of finally bringing home our troops — most of them, anyway.

But the plan — as executed — was a farce. We deserted Bagam Air Base in the middle of the night and left behind billions in military vehicles, equipment and weapons. We surrendered control of Kabul and later were forced to beg Taliban leaders to ensure safe passage for U.S. citizens and allies who wanted to leave. Some of our people were unable to get past Taliban checkpoints to get to the airport. They’re still in Afghanistan and we know little about their fate.

That’s not a plan — nor the execution — of the so-called smartest people in the room. No one saw the Taliban coming? That’s what Pentagon and State department leaders would have us believe.

The situation became even worse when a suicide bomber struck at Hamid Karzai International Airport and 13 U.S. military personnel were killed. Now, less than a month later, the Pentagon admits that the only official U.S. response to the terror attack was a tragic mistake.

Instead of a terrorist cell, a U.S. drone strike on Aug. 29 wiped out 10 members of an innocent family, including seven young children. This admission Friday by Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, came after the Pentagon had insisted that the strike had killed an Islamic State extremist, but officials were somehow unable to actually identify the target. Now we know why that was.

Biden may not be the foreign policy expert or decisive leader he was marketed as and he may not even be the competent anti-Trump. But at least his administration can succesfully execute a Friday afternoon news dump.

Several of them, in fact.

On Friday alone, there was the news about the drone strike, 10,000 immigrants gathering for a protest on a bridge in Del Rio, Texas and the FDA rejecting the idea of requiring COVID-19 booster shots. All that just days after the news of a new Bob Woodward book painting Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a rogue friend to China. Some are now accusing him of treason.

And where was Biden?

Well, it wouldn’t be a news dump if the President waited around to take questions. Come to think of it, when was the last time Biden took questions that didn’t involve what flavor of ice cream he was eating?

It’s no wonder even some Democrats increasingly have trouble defending White House policy here and abroad.

Biden left for Delaware earlier in the day Friday and White House press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t have an appearance scheduled. How convenient.

But remember, these are the adults in the room and they’re in charge. This is not what we were told to expect.

ED PUSKAS is Editor of the Star Beacon. Write him at epuskas@starbeacon.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Ed_Puskas.

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