House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has had a lot of political maneuvering to do this week. The California Republican has been vehemently critical of President Joe Biden's handling of the Afghanistan crisis — while carefully avoiding criticism of former President Donald Trump and glossing over the fact that Biden was essentially following the Trump/Mike Pompeo plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. And reporters are pointing out how badly McCarthy is contradicting himself and flailing around as he tries to articulate a coherent argument.
At a news conference this week, McCarthy contemptuously said of Biden's administration, "Why would you negotiate with the Taliban?" But negotiating with the Taliban is exactly what Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did in 2020. Pompeo met with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and Trump even talked about bringing the Taliban to Camp David.
Neocon Republican war hawks like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and former National Security Adviser John Bolton have at least been consistent in their views, slamming the Trump/Pompeo plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan as badly flawed and slamming Biden for following it. And paleoconservative isolationist Patrick Buchanan, writing for the right-wing Antiwar.com website this month, has criticized U.S. involvement in Afghanistan as a failed nation-building experiment that was doomed from the start.
But McCarthy wants to have it both ways, attacking Biden as weak on national defense without directly criticizing Trumpist isolationism.
One reporter pointed out that Trump did something McCarthy is now criticizing Biden's administration for: Trump negotiated with the Taliban:
Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman described McCarthy's contradictions in detail:
CNN's Kendall Brown described McCarthy's tortured logic this way: