This week: The Briefing, Vol. IX, Issue 32
- Biden’s Afghan disaster is a new political liability
- Newsom getting desperate in California recall
- Kind’s exit points to GOP House gains
Biden’s Afghan disaster: The Washington Post headline said it all: “Biden administration scrambled as its orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan unraveled.”
Oh, did it ever unravel. Over the weekend, Biden’s shortsightedness was laid bare in the most embarrassing manner.
Taliban fighters, taking a page from Pablo Escobar’s famous “plata o plomo” (silver or lead) option, have hit the jackpot. By bribing key forces into surrender and killing those unwilling to be bought, they have gained ground faster than anyone expected, seizing billions in assets that once belonged to the U.S. military. They are also reportedly murdering Afghan soldiers who have already surrendered, in addition to “police and civilians with alleged ties to the Afghan government.”
Those who were foolish enough to help U.S. forces as translators can only sit back, waiting for death, since Biden failed to give them sanctuary before handing the Taliban full control of Afghanistan on a silver platter.
Given a native Afghan army that has no republican values and no real ethical background demanding any sort of loyalty to the state, this is precisely what should have been expected.
U.S. intelligence officials, who failed horrendously in recognizing what was coming, will spend years pointing fingers at one another about how this came to be.
Now, in a bid to prevent an even worse slaughter, the Biden administration is launching a desperate scheme to surge 6,000 U.S. troops into Kabul protect the airport and keep the outbound planes flying. It is embarrassing, and the loss of life that will follow is at his feet. Trump may have shared his desire to quit Afghanistan, but Biden cannot plausibly tell the voters that what is happening now is Trump’s fault. The feeling is very similar to what must have prevailed during the last days of Saigon. Many, many people are drawing exactly that comparison.
President Trump and President Biden shared a similar view that the war in Afghanistan was futile, and that continued involvement could no longer be justified after nearly 20 years of futility. They might have both been right, but Biden is about to reap the negative political consequences of an ignominious defeat — a disorderly surrender and slaughter as a consequence of apparent incompetence. The last-ditch surge of troops into the theater only underscores the gravity of the risk he is trying to mitigate — that thousands of deaths could be laid at his feet.
California Recall: Democrats attempting to save Gov. Gavin Newsom from the September 14 recall election are getting desperate enough that their last-minute opposition research drop is being leaked to the press early.
They are now attacking the leading Republican candidate, conservative Larry Elder, for a technical fault in disclosing his assets. It’s a nit-picking problem that voters will not care about. They do, however, care about the disaster that is the Newsom administration and the state’s recent loss of its population and its tax base, which various liberal writers have hilariously tried to rationalize.
Here’s what they can’t explain: if the culprit was really a decline in immigration amid COVID, then why didn’t Texas or Florida experience similar population declines? And if (as one extremely conceited, self-serving theory puts it) only poorly educated people are leaving to be replaced by the best-of-the-best, then why isn’t their theorized “quality-over-quantity” exodus occurring in Texas, Tennessee, Idaho, Utah, and so many other states that keep growing so rapidly even as anyone capable of earning an income flees California?
While we’re at it, why are so many people leaving Democrat-dominated states such as New York, Illinois, and California for states like Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Florida, Texas, and Tennessee? We needn’t go there right now. With regard to the California recall, suffice it to say that Newsom’s California is losing its middle-class. The result will be ever-greater income inequality within the state. Only the richest and poorest will remain, more and more resembling the Third World. This is where Democratic policies can take your state, too, if you’ll only elect them.
Meanwhile, in the recall election, Democrats are foolishly urging their supporters not to vote on the second question of the recall — i.e., who should replace Newsom if he is recalled. If they follow that advice, Elder is even more likely to win.
Virginia: A new poll shows Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin statistically tied with former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, with the Democrat ahead, 47% to 45%. Although this might seem like only the slightest, palest ray of good news for Republicans, this is closer than they have been in Virginia in over a decade. With 8% undecided, Youngkin has a real chance.
The difference between Republican dominance of U.S. politics in the early Bush era and the Democratic dominance since the Obama era has been the turning of Virginia and Colorado to Democratic presidential candidates. But that’s only one of many reasons why Republicans are now desperately working to maintain relevance in the Old Dominion. Youngkin has a better chance than any Republican in recent history of winning the top job — the last one was Bob McDonnell, who won in 2009 and left office in disgrace.
At the moment, the main issues in the race seem to be the infiltration of critical race theory into several large school districts and exiting Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s mask mandate. These two issues definitely work in Youngkin’s favor, but he remains the underdog.
Florida: Democrats may be running out of patience with Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor-turned Democrat who has littered the state with a trail of losses as a Republican, Democrat, and independent. At the moment, a poll from the Democratic firm PPP shows him polling in the low 30s and trailing Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the Democratic primary for governor. It stands to reason.
Meanwhile, despite their party’s national message, Democrats in Florida have not been terribly eager to exploit Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ refusal to reimpose mask mandates and lockdowns. These measures are so unpopular on the ground that no one wants to bear the bad news. This will be tough for a lot of liberals in New York and Washington to bear, but people in most other places just aren’t paying attention to CDC recommendations anymore. They are done with the pandemic and ready to move on — another election issue that is likely to slam any politician trying to turn the clock back toward lockdown.
Republicans’ chances of retaking the House in 2022 are excellent in the abstract. They only need to gain five seats, and history is very much on their side. This is going to be Joe Biden’s first midterm, and the president’s party nearly always loses in such situations.
What’s more, many things are going wrong for Biden. He has caused a crisis at the border, rapid inflation, a huge spike in crime amid his “defund-the-police” position and policies, and possibly an ignominious, disorderly, death-filled, and dishonorable defeat in Afghanistan.
Republicans already lead (a rarity, given this barometer’s bias toward Democrats) in a congressional generic ballot poll, at least according to one Republican-leaning pollster. But Republicans are known to win seats in Congress even when they trail in that measure by as much as five points.
But this week is the first time Republicans have clear grounds for hope and concrete expectations about the gains they will make in the first Biden midterm.
What follows should explain that.
Wisconsin-3: If you’re looking for the first shoe to drop on a Democratic disaster, here it is. Rep. Ron Kind, D, facing a scandal because he was renting space to a (ahem) massage parlor, announced that he will not be running for re-election — that he has “run out of gas.” That’s a good way of putting it for a Democrat whose constituents have been gradually moving away from his positions for the last two decades. The district that Kind represents now is a formerly Democratic district that former President Donald Trump carried easily in 2016 and won again in 2020.
This is a seat that Republicans have come very close to winning on multiple recent occasions. It should be even easier for them once it’s an open, nearly redistricted seat that the Republican-controlled legislature has tweaked.
President Trump has endorsed Navy SEAL veteran Derrick Van Orden, R, who won the GOP nomination in 2020 and lost the general election to Kind by by less than three points.
This is a seat ripe for Republican takeover, and the first easy, low-hanging fruit to present itself ahead of 2022.