The FiveThirtyEight polling average shows President Biden’s approval rate is now 46.7% to 47.2%.
Political Wire members get exclusive analysis, new features and no ads. Join today!
“August has proved to be a brutal month for President Biden,” First Read notes.
“Rising Covid cases and deaths. The Taliban toppling Kabul and the Afghan government. Declining poll numbers. The killing of 13 U.S. service members in Afghanistan. And a hurricane pummeling Louisiana and now heading to the East Coast.”
“As we wrote two weeks ago, the next month won’t get any easier for Biden and his party — with likely congressional hearings on Afghanistan (competing for attention with those Jan. 6 hearings), with increasing progressive-vs.-centrist tensions on infrastructure/reconciliation, and with the 9/11 anniversary coming up (which will re-up the Afghanistan story).”
Secret Service emails show the Biden family dog “was a bit more of a problem pooch than the White House initially acknowledged,” NBC News reports.
“The White House said at the end of March that Major, the Bidens’ 3-year-old German shepherd, was involved in a pair of ‘nipping’ incidents, but the emails show he was involved in several more.”
CNN: “Biden’s national security team had little time to emotionally process the attacks, one official said, as they remained focused both on the airlift mission in Kabul, now entering its most dangerous phase yet, and a new objective to take out the terrorists.”
“For a commander-in-chief known to occasionally flash his temper, multiple aides who spoke to CNN described Biden as consistently calm and level-headed in the aftermath of the attack. Still, by the time Biden emerged into the White House East Room after most of Thursday behind closed doors, the strain of the moment was evident.”
Washington Post: “In private discussions, some House Democrats have raised the prospect of whether Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan — two of Biden’s most trusted aides — should lose their jobs.”
Both men appeared on the Sunday shows and Playbook says “it wasn’t pretty.”
Perry Bacon: “The Biden team should govern competently — and also fight on more polarized issues … instead of trying to dodge them. Biden can’t unilaterally end the partisan ‘uncivil war,’ no matter how hard he tries, because the Republicans are so deeply committed to it. Biden’s strategy implies there are ‘culture war’ issues to avoid and ‘pocketbook’ issues to focus on.”
“In reality, Republicans push almost every issue, from vaccinations to unemployment benefits to voting rights, into the broader, zero-sum fight between the parties. So conservative activists and politicians are opposing mask-wearing in schools just as fervently as they oppose the teaching of critical race theory.”
“President Biden on Friday announced all federal civilian employees would receive an average 2.7 percent pay raise, consistent with the increases he had proposed in his 2022 budget,” the Washington Post reports.
Edward Luce: “Biden will undoubtedly attract far more of the blame than he deserves for the closing chapter of America’s longest war. The defeat to the Taliban was a whole-of-government, bipartisan, multiple-presidency operation. But Biden’s name will always be associated with the manner of America’s pullout.”
“On Thursday, he dug a deeper hole for himself. As the US evacuation was accelerating, Biden vowed that ‘America will not be intimidated.’ He promised that the US would strike back against the terrorists ‘at our time, at the place we choose and the moment of our choosing.’ The gulf between Biden’s boilerplate rhetoric and the reality of a retreating superpower will be hard for White House aides to spin away.”
“There will be a day of reckoning.”
— House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA), quoted by The Hill, when asked if President Biden should resign after yesterday’s terrorist attack in Afghanistan.
David Ignatius: “The catastrophe in Kabul has spawned some finger-pointing and second-guessing in what has been a congenial Biden administration. To some White House officials, the military followed Biden’s order to withdraw troops all too quickly, with its commander and most forces gone by early July.”
“The Pentagon counters that the timetable was explicitly endorsed by the White House. Officials across the government complain that the State Department failed to reduce staffing at the embassy soon enough or to prepare visa paperwork for the thousands of Afghan civilians who would need to be evacuated if Kabul fell. And while the CIA warned that the Afghan government was shaky, even pessimists thought it might not fall until October or November.”
“Biden sought to calm that discord Thursday with an embrace of a military that is grieving. But rest assured: When the histories are written, there will be enough blame for all to share. For today, too much sorrow.”
President Biden will give a national address about the attack at the Kabul airport in the White House East Room just after 5 p.m. ET.
Leave your reactions in the comments.
Associated Press: “The amount of missing information in the 2020 census was less than feared, though it varied by state, the question asked, the type of housing and the mode in which U.S. residents answered the census form.”
“While the rates of missing information was higher in the 2020 census than in 2010, it was lower than expected during a once-a-decade head count that was considered the most difficult in recent memory due to the pandemic, natural disasters, and attempted political interference by the Trump administration.”
A new University of New Hampshire poll in New Hampshire gives President Joe Biden a 44% to 54% approval rating, down from 50% to 49% just last month.
Ian Philbrick: “Why has Mr. Biden — at least so far — escaped the sort of grass-roots ferment that dogged his two immediate predecessors?”
“One possibility is that he’s simply perceived as less antagonizing. The Tea Party was driven more by anxiety and resentment over a demographically changing country that had just elected its first Black president, most political scientists agree, than by fiscal conservatism.”
“But a president who dampens rather than stokes grass-roots furor is only part of the answer. The subjects conservatives have been protesting about over the past six months suggest other reasons for the missing anti-Biden Tea Party.”
A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds President Biden’s approval rating has plunged to 41% nationally, while 55% now disapprove of the job he’s doing.
Said pollster David Paleologos: “Biden’s overall approval has taken a turn for the worse due to his awful job performance rating on Afghanistan. His approval on immigration and the economy are also upside down. The only issue keeping him remotely in the game is his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, where he is barely at 50%.”
“The test of competence and of leadership is not about how you operate on your best day. It’s about how you operate when the chips are down, when things are difficult, when you need to adapt and make decisions.”
— White House press secretary Jen Psaki, quoted by the Washington Post.
Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to Hanoi was delayed for more than three hours because of “a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi,” CNN reports.
That’s how the government refers to the mysterious “Havana syndrome.”
Jennifer Rubin: “The vehemence with which many politicians and media pundits on the left and right have attacked President Biden should not be surprising. Given the chaotic and heart-wrenching scenes in Afghanistan, the commander in chief becomes an obvious target, especially for a press corps desperate to show they do not have a liberal bias.”
“But ‘chaotic’ does not equal ‘failed,’ and just because our intelligence community blew it big time — again — does not mean the United States has abandoned its Afghan partners.”
“Since Aug. 14, we have evacuated over 37,000 people. The United States has enlisted a slew of allies to help receive refugees. And our allies remain united that they will not recognize nor extend aid to the Taliban until we are satisfied they have not hindered our evacuation and are respecting human rights.”