Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a member of the Navy Reserve who formerly served in Afghanistan, believes President Joe Biden’s public absence amid his failed Afghanistan withdrawal plan has created “serious doubts” about his ability to continue serving as commander in chief.
Banks, speaking to Breitbart News in a phone interview Monday morning, condemned Biden’s lack of communication with the American public and called his one appearance — which came in the form of photos the White House posted to social media Sunday of the president sitting at a table alone on a call — a “pathetic image that will live in infamy.”
“The lights are on at the White House but nobody’s home,” Banks said. “It leaves serious doubts in the American people’s minds about whether or not this man is capable of being the commander in chief and leading this country for over three more years.”
This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team and senior officials to hear updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/U7IpK3Hyj8
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 15, 2021
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, over the weekend during a fast-paced surge through the country. Biden, just last month, expressed confidence that that would not happen, contending the Afghan government “clearly has the capacity to sustain the government in place” and that a Taliban takeover was “highly unlikely.”
Twenty years ago, the U.S. entered Afghanistan as a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, but the U.S. presence has been drawn out, ultimately costing more than 2,200 American lives and billions of dollars. Banks described America’s role in Afghanistan as a two-part tragedy, the first part being a “failed attempt to nation build.”
The second part, Banks said, “is what we’ve seen unfold over the last 24 hours, and really over the last 30 days, in a hasty retreat that inevitably will leave America less safe and secure because of the failed leadership of President Joe Biden.”
Banks, who is a leader in GOP messaging through his chairmanship on the Republican Study Committee, also warned Biden and Democrats would focus on blaming former President Donald Trump for the chaotic withdrawal. The administration had this weekend already pointed to what it said was Trump’s fault in the scenario for passing down to Biden a “deal” that put the Taliban in a position to thrive.
“Keep in mind, the Democrats are pushing all of the panic buttons: ‘Blame Trump. It’s Donald Trump’s fault.’ None of that works because none of that can mask the failure of Biden’s hasty pullout and retreat,” Banks explained. “Everyone on the Biden team is blaming Donald Trump, but Donald Trump never closed the door to leaving a light footprint of special operations, counterterrorism focus, troops in Afghanistan to avoid the situation that you’ve seen unfold on Joe Biden’s watch. Furthermore, Donald Trump did set us down a path to end the failed nation building activities that dominated our foreign policy and military activities in Afghanistan.”
Other Republicans, such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a former Army captain who served overseas; Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who chaired the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for several years; and Pennsylvania Republican Sean Parnell, a decorated Army combat veteran, have sharply criticized Biden and his generals for strategic blunders and misplaced priorities.
Banks concurred, saying Biden’s emphasis on social justice issues has made “America look bad on the world stage.”
“They spent the first 90 days of the Biden administration focused on ridding so-called ‘extremism’ from the ranks and teaching white guilt and pushing Critical Race Theory, anti-Americanism on our troops at a time when the Taliban was preparing to take over Afghanistan and essentially accomplished something that is demoralizing to our troops, to our country, that makes America look bad on the world stage more so than anything I could point to in my lifetime,” he said.
He added that if the president could not provide an explanation for the recent chain of events in Afghanistan and put forth a plan of action, then “he needs to step aside.”
Trump — amid a string of statements excoriating Biden for his management of Afghanistan — went as far as calling on Biden to “resign in disgrace.”
Banks, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said that as far as holding Biden accountable, “It’s our job to provide oversight of the failed leadership at the Pentagon and in the White House that led to this mess,” but that Republicans have little say over committee priorities as the minority party.
Biden is expected to address the public Monday at 3:45 p.m. Eastern following his time away at a presidential retreat at Camp David, which he decided today to cut short because of the events unfolding in Afghanistan.
Write to Ashley Oliver at email@example.com.