Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It’s an oft-cited quote, but one that is easily forgotten. It seems that the mainstream media is doing to Joe Biden what they did to Jimmy Carter. They are holding Biden to a standard of perfection, rather than what it is reasonable to expect of a well-intentioned human being.
The same holds true for many of the American people. Democrats and Independents alike are characterizing Biden’s first year in the presidency as a failure. This, despite the fact that he has returned civility and level-headedness to the White House and the American economy is rebounding.
When Biden assumed office, he had a favorable rating of over 60%. As he convinced Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan, his popularity remained high. But things changed in August. He decided that he would follow through on Donald Trump’s commitment to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan the end of the year.
Things did not go smoothly. The military of the Afghani government was of little assistance in helping American and other foreign troops and civilians leave the country. This was in spite of the nearly twenty years of training that they had received from the allies.
The final departure was chaotic and involved casualties. Regrettably, that is most of what the media currently reports.
It seems that most of the media quickly forgot what Joe Biden said when he announced that the United States would be withdrawing from Afghanistan. He reminded the press, the American people and the world that he was the fourth president who had presided over America’s presence in Afghanistan. He did not want to hand it over to a fifth president.
Equally important is that Biden was able to leave Afghanistan without declaring victory. Since Vietnam, the United States has been mired in numerous wars where it had little or no chance of actually winning, but that was never officially stated.
Lyndon Johnson was remarkably effective and popular with his civil rights legislation and Great Society. But as the number of troops in Vietnam escalated on his watch from 50,000 to over 500,000, he thoroughly undermined his credibility and effectiveness. He left office partially disgraced and he turned the war over to his successor, Richard Nixon, who was equally ineffective in extricating the United States.
After Nine-Eleven, President George W. Bush led America into Afghanistan. There was a justifiable reason for doing so because the Saudi mastermind of the attacks on the United States, Osama bin Laden, was hiding out in Afghanistan. The United States wanted to bring him to justice.
Bin Laden was finally killed in 2011 in the administration of Barack Obama. But the U.S. did not leave Afghanistan.
Back in 2003, Bush had invaded Iraq for no reason related to Nine-Eleven. He said that there were weapons of mass destruction there, but they were never found. Nonetheless, Bush declared victory. America still has a military presence in Iraq.
By pulling out of Afghanistan, Joe Biden did what Nixon, Bush, Obama and Trump could not do. Yet, when it comes to assessing what he did in Afghanistan, so often he is remembered in the press as Susan B. Glasser did in The New Yorker, “The twenty-year U.S. war in Afghanistan concluded with an embarrassing and botched American retreat.”
There is not a single American president who has accomplished acts of greatness who did not also make mistakes, serious mistakes, along the way. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but he had also spoken about the best solution to the Negro problem in the United States would be to send them back to Africa.
Woodrow Wilson was the “father” of the League of Nations, but his lack of skill with the U.S. Senate resulted in America not joining.
Franklin Roosevelt shepherded America out of the Depression and through World War II, but was harsh about letting European Jews into the United States and largely tone deaf about racial issues in the U.S.
When a calamity happens on a president’s watch, it not always his or her fault. Jimmy Carter chose to try a military rescue of American hostages in Tehran, Iran, but mechanical problems resulted in helicopters and planes malfunctioning. He paid a terrible price for malfunctions over which he had no control.
Joe Biden did not want America do leave Afghanistan in the way it did. He did not want the Delta variant of COVID to hit the United States in the summer nor the Omicron variant in the winter. It is terribly unfair to blame him for these, but many in the media do so.
Right now, Joe Biden and the Democratic party are what stand between us and a possible destruction of our Democracy by Trumpsters. Give the man a break. All of us, including those in the media, make mistakes or have misfortune fall upon us. Let’s show some tolerance and forgiveness.