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Opinion: The GOP's ludicrous call for Biden to resign

Julian ZelizerJulian Zelizer
Some of the same Republicans who stood by former President Donald Trump when he pressured the Ukrainian president for dirt on his campaign rival and stirred a mob attack on Congress as it was certifying the results of the 2020 election now claim that this attack on US troops is proof Biden should no longer be in power.
Sen. Josh Hawley, who challenged Biden’s 2020 election win, wrote, “It is now clear beyond all doubt that he has neither the capacity nor the will to lead. He must resign.” Sen. Marsha Blackburn went further, naming Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley on a list of those who should “resign or face impeachment and removal from office.”
This response should not be surprising. It seems Republicans have been waiting for a chance to get back at Democrats for impeaching Trump twice. The GOP is also determined to undermine the political standing of the Biden administration ahead of the 2022 midterm election. After stoking vaccine skepticism and raging against critical race theory with mixed results, Republicans are now trying to seize on Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. To be sure, there is plenty of fair criticism to level at the administration for the way this has been handled. But calling for Biden’s impeachment or resignation is a step too far, especially considering what the GOP was willing to defend with Trump.
We must keep our promises for the little girl huddled in a refugee camp. That girl was meWe must keep our promises for the little girl huddled in a refugee camp. That girl was me
The media has also played its part in portraying the withdrawal as a disaster. But after two decades and over $2 trillion, with thousands killed and injured, there was good reason for Biden to withdraw troops in Afghanistan. While there are still important questions about US intelligence and the failure to anticipate how quickly the Taliban would take over, it was inevitable that the withdrawal would be messy and dangerous. Terrorist attacks were increasingly likely. And while there was initial chaos after the government started telling people to leave, the administration has ramped up evacuations and, along with its allies, extricated more than 100,000 people.
What should Biden do now? His best bet is to stay focused on four major objectives.
The first is to end America’s involvement in the long and poorly planned nation-building operation in Afghanistan. As Biden understands, this bipartisan quagmire never really stood a chance. It’s abundantly clear that the US failed to create a more stable nation and continuing the military operation would have put more US troops in harm’s way. Biden should focus on getting the job done, knowing that the majority of Americans support the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
MLK and LBJ's children: Our fathers' vision for voting rights is under attack againMLK and LBJ's children: Our fathers' vision for voting rights is under attack again
The second objective is to rapidly expand the number of vaccinated Americans. While some Republicans are busy calling for Biden’s resignation, Covid-19 continues to present the greatest immediate danger to the nation. And while vaccination rates are starting to increase as states wrestle with the devastating effects of the Delta variant, there is still a long way to go. Now that the FDA has officially approved the Pfizer vaccine, companies and localities are more willing to impose vaccine requirements, whether it’s to work in a specific role or attend a concert. The more progress that Biden continues to make on this front, the stronger his standing will be.
The third objective must be to pass the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package. These measures will help Biden’s core goal of strengthening the economy while tackling long term, systemic problems like climate change and child care. The administration has two pieces of legislation being debated on Capitol Hill — both of which would have an enormous and tangible impact on people’s lives.
Finally, there is the issue of saving our democracy. Biden, who came into office just two weeks after the January 6 insurrection, has continually promised to restore the sanctity of our political process. The most important goal is to protect the right to vote. Currently, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 gutted by two Supreme Court rulings, faces an uncertain path in the Senate. The administration must do more to lean into this battle and build pressure among Democrats to carving out an exception in the filibuster rules so the legislation can pass with a simple majority.
It can be hard to stay focused on the big picture after a tragic event like the terrorist attack on Thursday. But that is exactly what great presidents need to prove they can do. If the Biden administration and the Democrats in Congress can pull this off — and doing so is no easy feat — they can solidify their standing and help usher the nation into better times.
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