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People Are Saying This Photo Sums Up Biden’s Presidency

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.

SO WHAT

Foreign policy rarely makes or breaks a president, but Biden’s public inconstancy as he withdraws the U.S. from Afghanistan goes to questions of his overall competence and strength.

THE MOMENT

The much-discussed photos were snapped during Biden’s Q&A with White House reporters after a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport earlier in the day killed dozens of people, including 13 U.S. service members.

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 delivered remarks accepting responsibility “for all that’s happened of late,” responded by repeating the White House talking point that former President Donald Trump’s 2020 agreement with the Taliban effectively made the ongoing chaos in Afghanistan inevitable.

THE REACTION

For Biden’s critics, the photos of him hunched over while listening to Doocy’s implicit condemnation were near-iconic confirmation that “Joe Biden Is Who We Said He Was,” as a National Review headline put it.

  • “What is slowly dawning on people is that Biden’s critics were right about him all along. Not since James Buchanan has America had a president who came so prepared by experience for the job, yet had so little clue how to do it,” wrote Dan McLaughlin.
  • “That reality will be shoved from consciousness soon enough by people with a professional stake in not acknowledging it, but a growing number of the American people are likely to remember. So will our allies and enemies around the world.”

On Twitter, Republican consultant Matt Whitlock deemed one of the photos of Biden a “defining image.”

“Optics disaster,” tweeted the Daily Caller.

  • “OMG, this is the leader of the free world?” commented Mark McCloskey, a Republican Senate candidate in Missouri.
  • Donald Trump Jr. saw in another of the photos the epitome of “weakness.”

Commentator Jon Gabriel let the White House sign language interpreter speak for him.

On the other hand, supporters of the president sought to recast the photos as further proof of his celebrated empathy.

MEANWHILE

Another image from the end of America’s 20-year-long mission in Afghanistan went viral Thursday for a very different reason.

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