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An attempt by the White House to prevent President Joe Biden from being heard saying something flippant or just plain dumb about the catastrophe in Afghanistan failed badly on Wednesday.
This attempt, which is being called “Operation Protect Joe Biden” by critics, was made at the tail end of a briefing/meeting in the White House State Dining Room about cybersecurity.
Video footage from the White House showed that right after the president formally ended the meeting, reporters began asking him questions that he initially ignored.
One of the questions came from NBC’s Peter Alexander, who asked, “Mr. President, if Americans are still in Afghanistan after the deadline, what will you do?”
At first, the president said nothing, although he did look in Alexander’s direction and briefly smirk. It’s not clear what he found funny.
When the NBC reporter repeated his question, the president finally piped up — but the answer he offered was concealed to the public thanks to the White House abruptly cutting his feed.
REPORTER: “If Americans are still in Afghanistan after the deadline what will you do?”
*White House cuts audio feed* pic.twitter.com/k0SGWhpXm6
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 25, 2021
And @POTUS appears to answer a reporter’s question about the #Afghanistan deadline but @WhiteHouse cuts off audio of the feed from the State Dining Room. pic.twitter.com/42yY5VkxMy
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) August 25, 2021
The problem for the White House is that just because they cut his feed didn’t mean words didn’t come out of his mouth.
Words certainly did come out his mouth, and these words were heard — and then shared — by a number of reporters who’d been at the scene, including Alexander.
I asked President Biden what he will do if Americans are still in Afghanistan after the 8/31 deadline.
His response: “You’ll be the first person I call.”
Took no questions. pic.twitter.com/MlyFIayrMZ
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) August 25, 2021
Pres. Biden (after introductory remarks on cybersecurity) ignored a question about what he’ll do if Americans are still in Afghanistan after Aug 31. When it was repeated, he joked to the reporter that “you’ll be the first person I call,” per pool report.
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) August 25, 2021
Responding to @PeterAlexander, @POTUS quipped he’d be the first person he calls when he decides what to do about evacuees remaining in #Afghanistan, according to @stevenportnoy.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) August 25, 2021
It turns out the president had responded to Alexander’s legitimate concerns about the thousands of Americans stranded in Afghanistan by making a joke.
“You’ll be the first person I call,” he’d quipped.
To say that this impolite, poorly timed joke stirred outrage would be an understatement.
“Biden’s flippancy when it comes to American lives is breathtaking,” former Trump administration official Stephen Miller tweeted.
The irony is that Miller was frequently accused of being cruel and uncaring because of his tough but ultimately fair approach toward immigration and illegal migration.
“SICK! When Biden’s asked what he’ll do if Americans are TRAPPED in Afghanistan after 8/31, he LAUGHS then his handlers cut off the audio. This is all one big joke to him. THIS IS NOT FUNNY! He needs to RESIGN immediately!” Trump-era White House physician Ronny Jackson added in his own tweet.
Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s outspoken communications adviser, Steve Guest, accused the White House of having purposefully cut the president’s feed as part of an operation he dubbed “Operation Protect Joe Biden.”
When Joe Biden does take questions, his handlers screen reporters and provide him a list of preapproved reporters to call on.
Now, The White House is cutting the audio feed when a reporter tries to ask him a question.
Operation Protect Joe Biden is in full swing. https://t.co/k0uDijIpfl
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) August 25, 2021
During the White House’s regular daily briefing later that afternoon, Fox News’ Peter Doocy tried questioning press secretary Jen Psaki about the president’s lack of decorum.
“At the tail end of the president’s remarks today about cyber security, he was asked about Afghanistan and he made a joke. So what’s so funny?” Doocy bluntly asked.
Psaki replied with a lengthy word salad saying nothing, though she almost — just almost — did say something substantive.
“Of course it’s a very important question. And I think what he conveyed is that he has not …,” she initially said before changing her train of thought.
Not had his nap yet? Not thought deeply about his administration’s incompetence? Not shown an iota of empathy for the victims of his incompetence?
But sadly, instead of completing her thought, she suddenly changed course.
“Well, what I can convey from here … we’re on track to complete our mission by August 31st. Obviously, there are discussions, and the president received a briefing just this morning. As I noted, he asked yesterday for contingency plans, and he received a briefing on them this morning,” she said.
“These are incredibly serious issues, and there are discussions that are happening internally. And I know that in addition to the contingency plans that he requested, he also, I will reiterate, as we stated yesterday, that this is all contingent on us achieving our objectives and the continued coordination with the Taliban,” she added.
(Video: Fox News)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken espoused similar rhetoric during his own briefing Wednesday.
He said that the Americans “will not be forgotten” and that the U.S.and its allies will “ensure that those who want to leave Afghanistan after the 31st are able to do so.”
What he didn’t say was how. At this very moment, U.S. troops are already withdrawing from Afghanistan, and so by Aug. 31st, there won’t be enough troops left to “ensure” anything save for Biden’s precipitous decline in job approval …
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