On Sunday, President Joe Biden showed up to the podium nearly 20 minutes late to give his remarks on Henri and Afghanistan.
The president began his remarks to share condolences about the loss of life due to Henri, which he pointed out is now thankfully a Tropical Storm, rather than a hurricane.
Emergency declarations have already been approved for Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.
When discussing preparation efforts, though, Biden appeared to struggle to remember the head of FEMA's name, Deanne Criswell.
Joe Biden appears to struggle to remember his FEMA administrator’s name pic.twitter.com/DPRIjiLOQ3— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 22, 2021
He also used the tropical storm as an excuse to talk about a "storm" of another kind. "And don't forget that you may need to seek shelter while you're battling a Delta variant and uh COVID-19. So wear a mask, and try to observe social distancing." Biden said before launching into a campaign to promote vaccines.
"And everyone across the country, don't get caught by the next storm. Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated now. Protect yourself and your family against COVID-19. It's going to be a vital part of emergency preparedness this year, for the remainder of this year," he said before turning to Afghanistan.
Biden took the opportunity to claim an "extraordinary number of people" have been evacuated from Afghanistan over the past 30 hours, to the tune of approximately 11,000 people. He went on to later say this was an "incredible operation."
In his assurances that his administration will get Americans back home safely, the president pointed out that they're "executing a plan to move groups of these Americans to safety and to safely and effectively move them to the airport compound."
As Spencer reported on Saturday, the U.S. embassy in Kabul warned Americans to avoid the airport due to "security threats."
President Biden's explanation to the American people included not just a bit of bragging about his efforts, but also attempts to dismiss blame. "Let me be clear," he said. "The evacuation of thousands of people from kabul is going to be hard and painful, no matter when it started, when we began. It would have been true if we started a month ago, or a month from now. There's no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss of heartbreaking images you see on television. It's just a fact."
"My heart aches for those people you see. We are proving we can move, though, thousands of people out of the kabul every day. We're bringing our citizens, NATO allies, Afghanis who in fact helped us in the war effort, but we have a long way to go, and a lot could still go wrong. But o move out 30,000 people in just over a week, that's a great testament to the men and women on the ground in Kabul and the Armed Services," which he said "also reflects a tireless diplomatic effort."
The president called such efforts "unwavering," when it comes to getting Americans and Afghan allies to the United States. "Once screened and cleared," Biden explained, "we will welcome these Afghans who helped news the war efforts over the last 20 year to a new home in the United States of America, because that's who we are. That's what America is."
As part of his closing, Biden thanked the American people and told them "I will keep you informed every day as we move forward," though such assurances may ring hollow considering his administration's track record when it comes to a failure to appropriately addressing such international crises in a timely manner.
Unlike more recent speeches, Biden took questions from reporters. As he looked down at his notes while doing so, however, it appears they were pre-selected.
Many of Biden's answers were rather brief, but nevertheless provided important insight, though it's worth wondering if the American people would have known such information had the president not taken questions. For instance, the August 31 deadline may end up being extended. "There's discussion going on among us and the military," Biden said when asked. "Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there will be discussions, I suspect, on how far along we are in the process."
The president did some time discussing a CBS poll that shows the American people no longer consider him to be competent, focused, or effective. When asked what he would say to the American people, then, Biden got somewhat defensive.
"So I, uh, I think when this is over, the American people have a clear understanding of what I did, why we did it, and but look, that's the job. My job is to make judgments. My job is to make judgments no one else can or will make. I made them. I'm convinced I'm absolutely correct in not deciding to send more young women and men in for a war that in fact is no longer warranted," he said.
Tune in as I provide an update on my Administration’s response to Tropical Storm Henri, as well as an update on the evacuation of American citizens, SIV applicants and their families, and other vulnerable Afghans. https://t.co/82f8s2zi0h— President Biden (@POTUS) August 22, 2021