Thursday was a very bad day for Joe Biden as president.
The deaths of 13 American soldiers after twin blasts at the Kabul airport served as a devastating blow for an already fraught attempt by Biden to pull all American troops out of the country by next Tuesday, affirming for many the dangerous mistakes and miscalculations that this President has committed in the region.
All of that is undeniably true. None of it is grounds for Biden to resign his office – as Republican elected officials fell all over themselves to demand even as the casualties from the suicide bombings in Afghanistan were still being tabulated.
“Should Biden step down or be removed for his handling of Afghanistan? Yes,” tweeted former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley just after noon on Thursday.
“It is now clear beyond all doubt that he has neither the capacity nor the will to lead,” tweeted Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley on Thursday afternoon. “He must resign.”
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn took it even further. “It’s time for accountability, starting with those whose failed planning allowed these attacks to occur,” she said in a statement. “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Antony Blinken, Lloyd Austin, and Mark Milley should all resign or face impeachment and removal from office.”
There were dozens of other Republicans following that lead, demanding that the time had come for Biden to step aside.
Which is ridiculous, for two main reasons:
1. There was a time not that long ago where NO politician would even consider calling publicly for the resignation of a president while the number of American casualties were still being counted. It would have been considered abhorrent – playing politics on a day when we are all Americans first and members of a political party second. One of the many boundaries that Donald Trump shattered was this one; there is now no compunction about politicizing the deaths of Americans on a mission abroad. Everything is now political from the second it happens.
2. Do the members calling for Biden’s resignation actually believe that a tragedy happening – either in this country or abroad – is grounds for resignation? By that standard, George W. Bush should have resigned on September 12, 2001. Franklin Delano Roosevelt should have resigned after Pearl Harbor. Bill Clinton should have resigned after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Yes, presidents must be held accountable when terrible things happen on their watch. We owe it to the people who died to investigate why it happened, whether it could have been prevented and how to keep it from happening again. But the idea that a president must resign immediately following a tragic incident like the one that happened Thursday in Afghanistan is ludicrous.
All of this discussion is, of course, moot because President Biden isn’t going to resign.
Asked about the calls for Biden’s resignation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded this way:
“I would say, first, this is a day where US service members … lost their lives at the hands of terrorists. It’s not a day for politics, and we would expect that any American, whether they’re elected or not, would stand with us in our commitment to going after and fighting and killing those terrorists wherever they live, and to honoring the memory of service members. And that’s what this day is for.”
The Republican politicians calling for Biden’s resignation know, of course, that he isn’t going to step aside. That they do it anyway, knowing that the base of their party will not just tolerate it but celebrate them for it suggests how far our politics have fallen from even a decade or two ago.