Now that vulnerable House and Senate Democrats have distanced themselves from him, President Joe Biden may not enjoy the benefit of the “coattail effect” in the next midterm if the political winds keep blowing in the current direction.
With Biden’s poll numbers sharply declining, Democrats holding onto vulnerable seats in 2022 now have to decide if they will risk being ousted by standing behind their president or risk empowering Republicans by opposing him. For the time being, they appear to have opted for the latter. According to Axios, “Democrats in swing states and districts are publicly distancing themselves” from President Biden and are now “huddling with campaign consultants over how to handle the setback in Afghanistan.”
In the House, Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) said in a statement that while she supports the withdrawal from Afghanistan, she admitted the evacuation was “egregiously mishandled” and called for “answers and accountability”:
It is clear to me that it was long past time to end the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, and that we could not continue to put American servicemembers in danger for an unwinnable war. At the same time, it appears that the evacuation process has been egregiously mishandled.
“In order to move forward, our country will need to receive answers and accountability regarding the cascading failures that led us to this catastrophic moment, and I look forward to using my platform on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to secure answers from the Biden Administration about what went wrong. Our troops deserve nothing less than a complete and unvarnished account of the truth.
In the days and weeks ahead, I will continue working to ensure that we leave no one—American servicemember, American civilian, or Afghan ally—behind. That is the indefatigable spirit that drives our troops through every burden and every sacrifice, and our entire country must now strive to be worthy of that example.
Likewise, Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Mike Levin (D-CA), and Andy Kim (D-NJ) have all called on the Biden administration to extend the evacuation deadline past August 31, according to Axios. Last week, just days prior to the terrorist attack that killed 13 U.S. servicemembers, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) said after returning from a surprise visit to Kabul that it is not possible to evacuate everyone neither by August 31 nor September 11.
In the U.S. Senate, Democrats have either criticized the method of withdrawal or called for an extension past the August 31 deadline.
“We must complete this mission, regardless of any arbitrary deadlines,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) echoed Hassan when his spokesman told Axios, “Senator Kelly has been critical of the administration’s execution of the withdrawal. … [H]e has said in multiple press interviews since then that he sees the August 31st deadline as less important than accomplishing the mission of evacuating Americans and Afghan allies.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) tweeted on Thursday that pushing the deadline past August 31 is an “important step” to bring everyone home safely.
Bringing the thousands of Americans and allies in Afghanistan to safety must remain our top priority, and pushing the evacuation deadline is a necessary and important step.
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) August 26, 2021
Other Biden supporters, from Meghan McCain to author Sam Harris, have also expressed dismay over the president’s handling of the withdrawal.