While addressing the American people on Monday, President Joe Biden said the "buck stops with me" with regard to the Taliban's alarming takeover of Afghanistan amid the U.S. military's withdrawal. Then he went on spreading blame to everyone but himself, including former President Donald Trump.
But Biden's blame-game tactic appears to have failed, even among members of his own party.
Democratic lawmakers this week turned on the president over his botched handling of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and are demanding answers from his administration, the Hill reported.
What are they saying?
One Democratic member of Congress, who remained anonymous in order to speak candidly, told the outlet, "I am bewildered and frustrated and, privately talking to a lot of House Democrats, they feel the same thing."
"The scenes are just brutal and there is no excuse for just how badly State or the Defense Department or both completely bungled the evacuations and getting folks out," the lawmaker fumed. "Someone was really asleep at the switch."
"I do want to know who was responsible. Where was the ball dropped? Because that person needs to be held accountable," the lawmaker added. "At least one person, or a group of people, screwed up so bad that it's fireable."
The Hill reported that a similar sentiment is shared by several in the Democratic caucus, with many desiring to see people within the administration held responsible.
"It is imperative that the administration provide the American people and Congress transparency about its Afghanistan strategy," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
Meeks announced on Tuesday that his committee would soon be holding hearings on the Afghanistan debacle, during which Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will be called to testify.
Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee agreed. The committee, led by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), vowed this week to investigate the administration's withdrawal for "policy execution and intelligence failures."
In a blistering statement, Menendez said that "Congress was told repeatedly that the Afghan Defense and Security Forces were up to the task, that it had the troops, equipment and willingness to fight. To see this army dissolve so quickly after billions of dollars in U.S. support is astounding. The American and Afghan people clearly have not been told the truth."
Ahead of Biden's speech, Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (Texas) tweeted: "There's no way to hide it. The situation in Afghanistan is another shame on this admin. Withdrawal was never going to be easy but it didn't need to come to this. The US must do everything in its power to help our partners & allies to safety & protect our national security."
According to the Hill, several other Democratic members were just as severe:
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) has described the situation as a "disaster" that was "avoidable."
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said he was "disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal."
Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) called what was happening a "catastrophe." Writing in Foreign Policy, Langevin, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, complained that "this negligence was par for the course for the last administration. I am disappointed to see it now."
Chaotic scenes showing Afghan residents dangling from departing U.S. planes in an attempt to flee the country have shocked the world in recent days. Some fell hundreds of feet to their deaths. Others may have died while clinging to a plane's landing gear. Afghan women, anticipating harsh treatment under the new regime, have been left to despair over their new reality.
Thousands of U.S. troops were rushed back to the Kabul airport in Afghanistan to ensure that scores of American citizens and Afghan translators could be evacuated.
It's the result of Taliban forces sweeping Afghanistan with stunning speed and wresting control over the country, an outcome Biden called "highly unlikely" only days ago.
The fiasco is perhaps the administration's greatest setback yet. One that, for now, appears to have reset the political landscape.