While President Joe Biden’s personal gaffes continue to fascinate and dismay – recent polls say things are going badly under “distracted” and “incompetent” Joe Biden – we would all do well to also ponder some alarming outputs from other sources in his administration as well.
A blockbuster report recently issued by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says that the mistrust and dysfunction that characterized the Afghan government and military just prior to the American withdrawal in August 2021 preordained the ensuing swift Taliban takeover of the country.
It took the Taliban less than a month to capture all of the country’s 34 provinces. According to the report, there was no way the Afghan military could have been expected to sustain itself after the loss of U.S. air support. To paint a picture: In 2019, the U.S. military conducted 7,423 air strikes, according to the report, but “98% of U.S. air strikes had ceased” basically overnight as a result of the Biden administration’s policy.
After 20 years of trying to build an effective Afghan military, was the Pentagon oblivious to its precarious state? The Biden team plunged ahead with the withdrawal with results that could not have been all that surprising.
It is also hard to understand what went through the minds of Biden’s staff when they sent out newly-minted Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for a press briefing soon after the president tried – in true-to-character non-sequitur fashion – to tie the current rampant inflation to large corporations and wealthiest Americans failure to “pay their fair share in taxes.” There was no way that the barracudas who make up the presidential press corps would not try to run a truck through that beauty. Yet Ms. Jean-Pierre proved utterly unprepared and mouthed some inane platitudes in response to their onslaught.
Then there was the Department of Homeland Security’s roll out of the much-ridiculed Disinformation Governance Board (aka. the “Ministry of Truth”). Given that this sort of agency is an obvious departure from the way our democracy has worked in the past, it probably would not have been too much to expect that great care would be taken choosing the board’s director and explaining the limitations on the board’s mandate – especially so since the DHS has jurisdiction over Biden’s controversial immigration policy and politically-fraught topics such as domestic protests.
Yet what we got was the selection of Nina Jankowicz, the same Nina Jankowicz reported to have publicly vouched for the truthfulness of the since-discredited Steele Dossier and condemned negative revelations about Hunter Biden as “Russian disinformation.”
As for the agenda of Jankowicz and her agency, we were reassured by a Biden deputy press secretary that neither Nina Jankowicz nor the board have anything to do with censorship or with removing content from anywhere: “Their role is to ensure that national security officials are updated on how misinformation is affecting the threat environment. She has strong credentials and history of calling out misinformation from both the left and the right.”
Amazing in its cluelessness. What exactly are the standards for determining something is misinformation?
Thankfully, the great tumult generated in response to the board roll out and Jankowicz’s selection prompted the administration to ditch Jankowicz and stick a pin in this project.
When contemplating these three episodes, the title of that old Jimmy Breslin novel “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” comes painfully to mind.