Watching Joe Biden’s address to the American public on Monday and the subsequent reaction, I realized that Two Americas encompassed every aspect of political life. The president, approval rating hit notwithstanding, had a suspicion about who would rend their garments about the withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan. Paul Campos summarizes. I omitted the first point:
(2)It really is astounding how all the people who were totally wrong about everything keep getting invited on to the TV to tell us how we should all think about what’s happening now. This is the Blob, and you can’t reason with it, you can’t bargain with it, you can only surf over to ESPN and refuse to engage, even by proxy
(3) One tiny silver lining here is the stark reminder to everyone of how terrible George W. Bush was, after several years of absurd nostalgia based on nothing but the fact that he isn’t a complete sociopath, unlike his immediate GOP successor to the office.
(4) One thing that progressives need to push back against hard is the right wing attempt to hijack this whole disaster into another episode of Dirty Foreigners Are Trying To Sneak Into America to Kill White People. This is especially true because Biden has been weak on immigration issues so far — an area where he apparently believes it’s possible to triangulate in some way that appeases reactionaries but is less brutal than Stephen Miller’s fascist fantasies.
I’d add: (5) I don’t want to hear from the lamenters about women’s rights in Afghanistan without lamenting our quite comfy relationship with Saudi Arabia, as we know a beacon of human freedom.
We know now to what degree officials lied about progress, and to what extend their media courtiers like NBC’s Richard Engel and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, both of whom look more chagrined than the General Turgidsons they covered, failed to puncture the myths of American doggedness (NB: I know Engel, kidnapped by Syrians in 2012, has a personal stake, I suppose). So completely have they absorbed the sources who give them access that they become Mouths of Sauron.
I wasn’t crazy about the address. Poetry I didn’t want, nor did I want the back of the hand that Biden gave the Afghanis as if these fucking ingrates were responsible. But one can’t become an American president without giving the one-third of the government he heads wiggle room for sanctimony. America is never wrong, America is wronged.