Speaking from his sunlit White House office, Vice President Joe Biden was uninhibited in his comments on the bank crisis in Europe, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and China. But it was his rather honest assessment of who, exactly, it is we're fighting in Afghanistan.
"Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy," he told Newsweek's Leslie H. Gelb. "That’s critical. There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests." He went on. "If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us." Sticking up for Biden, White House spokesman Jay Carney said his words were "only regrettable when taken out of context," arguing that Biden had clarified the Tailban would be a threat if they allowed al Qaeda to strike the U.S.
The backlash, coming from both the 2012 GOP circus show and soldiers stationed abroad, was swift. Below, we've gathered a sampling of illustrative tweets.
Joe Biden said that the Taliban 'is not our enemy.' I wonder how our troops in Afghanistant that are under attack view Biden's statement.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2011
Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican candidate
VP Biden’s comment that the Taliban 'is not our enemy' is an outrageous affront to our troops carrying out the fight in Afghanistan.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 19, 2011
Rick Santorum, 2012 Republican candidate
Biden says "the Taliban isn't our enemy?"I always say find out what Biden thinks on FP issues and take opposite position.— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) December 19, 2011
Ari Fleischer, Former White House press secretary under George W. Bush
If Bachmann said Taliban are not our enemy, MSM wld make it a huge story.For Biden, who did say that, media r mostly silent...— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) December 20, 2011
Why conservatives complain re media bias: Bachmann's line re Elvis' birthday gets more coverage than Biden's about Taliban.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) December 20, 2011
Reince Priebus, RNC Chairman
It's outrageous the White House would stand behind Biden's false statement that the Taliban isn't our enemy bit.ly/ublTk2— Reince Priebus (@ReincePriebus) December 20, 2011
Heritage Foundation, Right-wing think tank
Joe Biden says the Taliban is not our enemy. We disagree. Find out why in today's Morning Bell: herit.ag/TbX— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) December 20, 2011
Todd Starnes, Host of Fox News & Commentary with Todd Starnes
WH stands by VP's assertion that Taliban is not our enemy fxn.ws/sPUnte Wow. Just wow.— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) December 20, 2011
So if the Taliban isn't our enemy, Mr. President -- who is? The one percent?— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) December 20, 2011
For America, right-wing coalition dedicated to fighting Obamacare
Kanchan Gupta, Associate Editor, The Pioneer
Joe Biden says, "Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy." Really, Mr Biden? What then are Amrikis doing in Afghanistan? Growing cabbages?— Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) December 20, 2011
Jim Nelson, Active duty U.S. Army combat medic
Well if THEY aren't the enemy, who's been shooting at us all this time? foxnews.com/politics/2011/…— Jim Nelson (@JDNelson_68W) December 20, 2011
United States Marine/2003 Iraq vet