Speed Reads

'catastrophic exit'

CNN's Jake Tapper calls out Biden's Afghanistan speech for being 'full of finger-pointing and blame'

CNN anchor Jake Tapper is calling out President Biden's Monday address on Afghanistan as being "full of finger-pointing," despite the president's assertion that "the buck stops with me." 

Biden on Monday delivered remarks from the White House after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, defending the United States' withdrawal and saying he stands behind his decision to leave, though he admitted that "this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated." Critics quickly accused Biden of "passing the buck" and not accepting responsibility for the chaos, and Tapper seemed to agree with this assessment. 

"The president said that the buck stopped with him, but in fact, this speech was full of finger-pointing and blame, especially for the Afghans," Tapper said. "...He did not really get into or accept any blame for the catastrophic exit that we have been watching on television in the last several days." 

During the speech, Biden responded to questions over "why we did not begin evacuating Afghan civilians sooner" by saying that "some of the Afghans did not want to leave earlier."  

Reporting from Kabul, CNN's Clarissa Ward argued the speech will "sound like hollow words" to Afghans, as Biden didn't take responsibility or apologize for the "catastrophic manner of this withdrawal." David Axelrod, who served as senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, also argued on CNN that Biden should have taken responsibility during the address. 

"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," Axelrod said. "But I do think that he needed to take responsibility. … He should have said, 'It did not go as it should have,' and taken responsibility for that."