Speed Reads

pushing back

Biden 'ferociously' responds to critics during Afghanistan 'rebuttal' speech

President Biden's speech on Tuesday about the end of the United States' 20-year military mission in Afghanistan felt like "a rebuttal to domestic critics," Washington Post columnist Ishaan Tharoor wrote afterward. Throughout his remarks, Biden firmly argued that his administration made the right calls up to and throughout the chaotic and deadly evacuation process in Kabul.

Other analysts agreed with Tharoor's assessment — CNN's John Harwood noted that Biden responded "ferociously to ferocious political attacks he has faced over the last two weeks," PBS News' Yamiche Alcindor said the president was "pushing back hard" and "pointedly defending his choice" to end American involvement in the Afghan conflict, and ABC News' Ian Pannell called the speech "an attempt ... to burnish his record."

There may have been consensus on what Biden was trying to accomplish with his rhetoric, but analysts disagreed on how it Americans will feel about it. Breaking Defense's Aaron Mehta predicted Biden's words won't play well in national security circles, but will likely be popular in the rest of society. Bill Kristol, on the other hand, thought Biden erred by going on the defensive. "He sounds more like a candidate than our president," Kristol tweeted. "Today is not about him. Our war in Afghanistan is over. Pay tribute to the troops, pledge to heal wounds, rally the nation to a better future."