One moment from Joe Biden’s news conference on the Afghanistan crisis Thursday has captivated the internet, with critics calling photos of the moment “defining” of his presidency.
Foreign policy rarely makes or breaks a president, but Biden’s public inconstancy as he withdraws from Afghanistan goes to questions of his overall competence and strength.
The much-discussed photos were snapped during Biden’s Q&A with White House reporters after a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that earlier in the day killed dozens of people, including 13 U.S. service members.
The defining moment of Biden’s “presidency” pic.twitter.com/1sK6XOdK4G
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 26, 2021
As Fox News’ Peter Doocy pressed Biden on his culpability for “the way that things have happened” in the bloody and chaotic final days of the U.S. occupation, the president hunched over and pressed his face into his hands.
- Biden, despite having just accepted responsibility “for all that’s happened of late,” went on to repeat his claim that former President Donald Trump’s 2020 agreement with the Taliban effectively made the ongoing chaos in Afghanistan inevitable.
Less than 10 seconds passed while Biden’s head was down, but that was more than enough time for conservative Twitter users to confirm,“Joe Biden Is Who We Said He Was,” as a recent National Review headline put it.
Republican consultant Matt Whitlock deemed a photo of the moment “defining.”
A defining image. pic.twitter.com/nER7WyiEK0
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) August 26, 2021
- “Optics disaster,” declared the Daily Caller.
- “OMG, this is the leader of the free world?” commented Mark McCloskey, a gun-toting Republican Senate candidate in Missouri.
Donald Trump Jr. saw in another image the epitome of “weakness.”
This is what weakness looks like. pic.twitter.com/a7vqlqYUhU
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 26, 2021
Podcaster Jon Gabriel let the White House sign language interpreter speak for him.
— Jon Gabriel (@exjon) August 26, 2021
On the other hand, supporters of the president sought to recast the photos as further proof of his celebrated empathy.
— Mary L Trump (@MaryLTrump) August 27, 2021
Another image from the end of America’s 20-year-long mission in Afghanistan went viral Thursday for a very different reason.
An image to put a period on a terrible day for the country. https://t.co/U6z0WS5X2J
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) August 27, 2021