Psaki dismisses Axelrod’s criticism of Biden on Afghanistan
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday brushed aside criticism from David Axelrod, the former White House adviser in the Obama administration who a day earlier had knocked President Biden for his handling of the crisis in Afghanistan.
Asked by New York Times reporter Michael Shear about Axelrod’s criticism, Psaki offered her respect for the Democratic political-operative-turned-pundit, whom she worked with in the Obama administration, but said there’s a big difference to commenting from outside the White House and working within it.
“There are few people I respect as much as David Axelrod in the world of politics, he’s brilliant, he’s also a great human being,” Psaki said. “But he would be the first to say there is a difference between being on the outside and speaking on television and being on the inside and the difficult choices you have to make.”
Question: What do you say to David Axelrod?
Psaki: There are few people I respect as much as David Axelrod on the world of politics… but he would be the first to say there’s a difference between being on the outside and speaking on television and being on the inside pic.twitter.com/dWvZIFTAPz
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 17, 2021
Speaking on CNN just before Biden’s Monday address to the nation on Afghanistan, Axelrod called the episode a failure for the president and urged him to own it publicly.
After Biden’s speech, Axelrod was also critical.
“I thought that his case for why we had to get out was strong, it was compelling, and I think he had to do that as well. But I do think that he needed to take responsibility,” Axelrod said.
“I think he would have served himself well if he had just embraced it. Yes, there were failures on the part of the — clearly on the part of the Afghans. Yes the government there is corrupt. Yes [former President] Donald Trump left him with a mess. All of that is true, but he is the commander in chief now. He is in charge of this operation, and he should have said it did not go as it should have and taken responsibility for that.”
Biden instead told Americans he stands “squarely” behind his decision to pull troops out of the war-torn country, but acknowledged that the situation deteriorated faster than his administration expected.
“I know my decision will be criticized,” Biden said. “But I would rather take all that criticism than pass this decision on to another president of the United States, yet another one, a fifth one. Because it’s the right one, it’s the right decision for our people. The right one for our brave service members who risked their lives serving our nation. And it’s the right one for America.”
Psaki echoed Biden’s sentiment in her remarks to reporters during a briefing on Tuesday.
“That does not mean that there aren’t chaotic moments, there are,” she said. “That does not mean that there aren’t moments that we may look back and take a look at approaches … right now, and he would be the first, he spent as you well know an important role, a vital role … what you have to [do] is always make the decisions based on is what’s in the interest of the American people.”
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