On PBS, Capehart Says Afghanistan Fiasco Is a 'Momentary Blip for the President'

September 4th, 2021 8:02 AM

On Friday's PBS NewsHour, Washington Post columnist and MSNBC weekend host Jonathan Capehart insisted the fiasco in Afghanistan would be a "momentary blip" in the President's approval numbers. 

While the latest NPR/PBS/Marist Poll was released on Wednesday showing bad numbers for President Biden, Friday night was the first mention on the NewsHour. Anchor Judy Woodruff pulled out Biden's approval number on Afghanistan: "32 percent approval, 61, almost 2-1, disapproval. What do you make of this? What does it say about the country? How long-lasting is this?"

CAPEHART: I don't think it will be long-lasting at all. I think it's possible — and it is possible — to disapprove of the way the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, while still supporting getting the troops out....There's a Washington Post poll that is out that actually lays this out quite perfectly: 77 percent of those surveyed support withdrawal from Afghanistan. But when asked, do you approve of the way the withdrawal has — the president has handled the withdrawal, only 26 percent said they approve. They support withdrawal, but they don't approve the president's handling of it, and 52 percent disapprove of the handling of it, but they support the withdrawal.

So that's why I say the president — this is a momentary blip for the president.

On this count, Capehart's fellow Washington Post columnist, Michael Gerson, broke the usual unanimous pattern and disagreed, that this could leave a mark:

GERSON: I agree with Jonathan about the long-term effect of Afghanistan itself. This is a policy people agree with. And that is, I think, ultimately going to redound to the president's benefit. He will campaign, if he runs for reelection, as the ender of forever wars. He will do that. I think that's absolutely true.

The problem is, if this becomes a data point in an impression of incompetence, because, right now, the American people view that retreat from Afghanistan as not competent very strongly. I don't think it's Afghanistan that would be the problem. I think it's a set of data points that would hurt him in the long run.

Later, Woodruff added that their poll showed 48 percent disapproving of Biden's handling of the economy. Capehart found that worrisome, and said Team Biden did, too: "The polling on Afghanistan, we know they they're not terribly worried about that. But this is something they're worried about."

While PBS and the rest of the media blamed Trump for pretty much everything wrong with America, there was a seeping sense of Jimmy Carter in this segment. Liberals used to insist when America went south under Carter, it was out of his control. Here we go again, Biden can't be blamed: 

WOODRUFF: People talk about the president gets the credit or the blame, whatever happens to the economy. In this case, how much control does he really have over COVID and where it goes, where it goes from here? There's some control, we know, with the vaccines, but…

CAPEHART: Not much. Well, not much control. The president doesn't have any control over the economy, whether we want to admit it or not. And we're seeing with the pandemic there's not much control there either.