Vice President Kamala Harris is choosing the wrong time to take a scheduled trip to Vietnam as she remains largely and noticeably absent from the aftermath of President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine said Thursday.
On „America Reports„, host Sandra Smith noted Harris previously spoke about the administration’s Afghanistan plans in April, telling CNN’s Dana Bash that she both wants to be and „feels comfortable“ being „the last person in the room“ when Biden makes such a decision.
Devine replied that Harris is likely trying to keep her reputation more intact as Biden’s leadership is questioned and Afghanistan crumbles before the Taliban, suggesting the vice president may believe she will ascend to the presidency sooner than later given the current conditions.
„Unfortunately this has been a debacle in Afghanistan and Joe Biden owns it, and he stinks of failure and defeat, and she wants to be as far away from that as she possibly can,“ Devine said.
„It’s quite a betrayal of the vice president not to be standing by the president’s side who’s now given two sort of ‘speeches,‘ I guess you could call them, since Friday. And it is quite remarkable that she has decided not to show solidarity with the president — it tells you where the White House is. And she, I suppose, is thinking she will be stepping into the president’s shoes.“
Devine added that the sudden apparent discord in the White House comes just before Harris is scheduled to go forward with a trip to Vietnam.
Harris‘ deputy national security adviser, Philip Gordon, said earlier this month the vice president will emphasize the Biden administration’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, with a focus on reinforcing regional security in the area.
„The National Security Council was very supportive of the notion that the vice president would be well placed to complement those other meetings and visits with travel to Singapore and Vietnam,“ Gordon said. „It’s really part of an overall unified administration engagement strategy that shows our comprehensive engagement in East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia as well.“
Devine called it „quite strange“ that Harris continues to plan for the trip, calling it a mistake in the face of the varied crises at hand.
„The president and the State Department still don’t have their heads around giving some sort of account of what they are up to and what’s happening in Kabul,“ she said. „They don’t even know how many Americans are trapped behind enemy lines. They are all over the place and have allies up in arms who were caught flatfooted when they had this withdrawal in the dead of night from Bagram Air Base, and then the disaster that has ensued since then.“
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„Kamala Harris [is] going to southeast Asia, where America’s allies are looking to America to project strength because China and America’s other adversaries are looking at America and seeing weakness and are now going to capitalize on it,“ Devine added.
Devine said Biden’s judgment is „flawed,“ and it is time for „grown-ups“ within the administration to take charge. State Department spokesman Edward „Ned“ Price, she argued, has not instilled confidence that U.S. leaders are competently executing a response to the crisis overseas.
„Joe Biden and Jen Psaki need to be accountable, and they need to tell the American people what’s going on.“
The Associated Press contributed to this report.