Vice President Kamala Harris’ trademark cackle made an inopportune appearance during her tone-deaf trip to Singapore when asked Sunday about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
On the airport tarmac, Harris laughed out loud as a reporter appeared to start asking her about Americans trapped in Kabul — the vice president cut the reporter off before the question was completed.
Of course, she was not alone in sharing a laugh, as President Joe Biden let out a hearty chuckle while speaking from the White House Sunday afternoon. More on that in a bit.
“What’s your response to reports of Americans—” the reporter called out over the jet engines behind the vice president.
“Hold on, hold on, hold on,” Harris interrupted. “Slow down, everybody.”
She let out a big awkward laugh, before turning on a dime to suddenly get serious in delivering the prerequisite talking points on how Afghanistan is the administration’s top priority — talking points that serve to justify a trip that will include Vietnam, as the catastrophe in Kabul is compared to the frantic U.S. exit from Saigon in 1975.
Reporter: “What’s your response to reports of Americans—“
Kamala Harris: “Hold on. Hold on. Slow down everybody. Hahaha. Um, I want to talk about two things. First, Afghanistan — we couldn’t have a higher priority right now.”pic.twitter.com/oUv9yAtDfk
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) August 22, 2021
“I want to talk about two things. First, Afghanistan — We couldn’t have a higher priority right now,” Harris declared. “And in particular high priority is making sure that we safely evacuate American citizens, Afghans who worked with us, Afghans at risk, including women and children, and that is one of our highest if not the highest priority right now.”
“And it’s a big area of focus for me in the past days and weeks, and will continue to be,” she added.
The problem here is that Harris has been noticeably absent since the Taliban routed the Afghan government last week, all but vanishing from public view. Keep in mind, the vice president boasted to CNN’s Dana Bash that she was “the last person in the room” with Biden after he made the announcement in April that he was ordering all U.S. personnel out of the war-torn country after two decades.
President Biden tried to calm the waters on Sunday in a speech that was designed to assure America that things were rapidly improving in Kabul — reports on the ground say otherwise.
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) August 22, 2021
As for his aforementioned chuckle, Biden was doing what he has been doing all along, focusing on the reasons behind leaving Afghanistan instead of the disastrous way the exit was being carried out, when he suggested Beijing and Moscow “would love nothing better than for us to continue being bogged down there, totally preoccupied with what’s going on.”
Never mind that the small U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan at the end was far from a distraction — though few Americans disagree with getting out after 20 years — but for whatever reason, Biden delivered the line while inserting an awkward chuckle.
“I’ve continued to make progress since I spoke to you on Friday,” the president said to open his remarks on Afghanistan, adding that the U.S. has evacuated thousands.
On Saturday, the administration revealed during a briefing that only 2,500 out of an estimated 15,000+ Americans trapped in Afghanistan were rescued, with the bulk of those boarding planes being Afghan evacuees.
“Our first priority in Kabul is getting American citizens out of the country as quickly and as safely as possible,” Biden said Sunday. “At my direction, the State Department continues to reach out to the remaining Americans we have identified by phone, e-mail, and other means to ascertain their whereabouts and their plans.
“We’re executing a plan to move groups of these Americans to safety and to safely and effectively move them to the airport compound,” he added.
Biden would go on to claim that “we lifted approximately 11,000 people out of Kabul in less than 36 hours. It’s an incredible operation.”
Hamid Karzai International Airport is surrounded by the Taliban and getting through the perimeter is proving to be near impossible for some. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said seven Afghans were killed in the crowds near the airport on Saturday, Reuters reported.
Appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appeared to downplay the difficulties Americans stuck in Afghanistan have had: “There have been incidents of people having some tough encounters with Taliban.”
Biden’s response Sunday was to appeal to the good nature of the primitive fighting force and suggest that the U.S. trust them.
(Video: Fox News)
“The Taliban has to make a fundamental decision. Is the Taliban going to attempt to be able to unite and provide for the well-being of the people of Afghanistan which no one group has ever done since before, for hundreds of years, and if it does, it’s going to need everything from additional help in terms of economic assistance, trade and a whole range of things,” he said. “The Taliban has said, we’ll see whether they mean it or not, they’re seeking legitimacy. They’re seeking legitimacy to determine whether or not they will be recognized by other countries. They have told other countries as well as us they don’t want us to move our diplomatic presence.”
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