News and Commentary

Kamala Harris Trip To Vietnam Draws Hanoi Jane Comparison
American actress and antiwar activist Jane Fonda looks though the scope of an anti-aircraft gun during her tour of the North Vietnamese capital. She arrived July 8 at the invitation of the Vietnam Committee for Solidarity with the American People.
Getty Images

The Biden administration apparently doesn’t know the meaning of the word “optics.”

With the Taliban takeover of Kabul, which prompted emergency flights out of Afghanistan, drawing comparisons to the fall of Saigon, Vice President Kamala Harris is heading to Vietnam.

“The prospect of Harris visiting Vietnam at this particular moment raised the possibility of the worst photo op for an American in that country since Jane Fonda donned a helmet there in 1972,” Fox News writes.

“When Harris arrives in Vietnam next Tuesday, after a stop in Singapore over the weekend, she will be the most senior Biden administration official to travel to Southeast Asia as the U.S. looks to support its allies in the region as they deal with China’s close proximity,” says Fox.

Harris’s trip drew mockery on social media.

“The VEEP writers could not have scripted this better,” wrote Sean Spicer, former press secretary to President Donald Trump.

“Vietnam 1975 and Afghanistan 2021, Trusting on you is big mistake!” wrote another.

“Going to Vietnam for an ‘America is back’ tour might not be the best idea right now for the Biden admin,” wrote another.

“Harris wants to get a better understanding of how helicopters can rescue diplomats from rooftops,” wrote another.

Harris has been outside the U.S. just once as vice president. In June, she visited Guatemala and Mexico in an effort to examine the “root causes” of the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. But she has not visited that border, even though Biden in March named her as the administration’s point person on the crisis.

The vice president has made a point of trying to appear engaged in the Afghanistan crisis, saying she was the last person in the room with President Joe Biden when he made the Afghanistan troop withdrawal decision. Biden “is acutely aware that it may not be politically popular, or advantageous for him personally; it’s really something to see,” Harris said.

In a defiant speech on Tuesday, Biden said it is time to leave Afghanistan.

“Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy,” Biden said. “Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on the American homeland.”

Biden noted that four presidents — two Democrats and two Republicans — have dealt with the conflict, and stated, “I will not pass this responsibly on — responsibility on to a fifth president.”

The president also acknowledged the chaos that occurred. “I made a commitment to the American people when I ran for President that I would bring America’s military involvement in Afghanistan to an end. And while it’s been hard and messy — and yes, far from perfect — I’ve honored that commitment.”

And Biden added: “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.”

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