OTHERS: President Biden adjusts his brief!

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2022

Charles Blow, disappointed: Who was Joe Biden talking about in his blood-red, September 1 speech? 

Former president Donald J. Trump was the one person Biden named. Aside from Trump, who were "the extreme MAGA Republicans" who, according to President Biden, were "committed to destroying America?"

In this September 7 column, Bret Stephens criticized Biden's speech, seeming to say that Biden had attacked with much too broad a brush. (Headline: "With Malice Toward Quite a Few.") 

By the time Biden was done, he had seemed to attack almost every Republican voter—or so Stephens said. Stephens said that President Biden should have focused on the "sinister" Donald J. Trump.

For what it's worth, we generally agree with that general view—but who had Biden been talking about? It was hard to tell from his speech, which was remarkably accusatory but also remarkably vague.

Who had Biden been talking about?  Right to this very day, the answer remains unclear. 

Four letters in this morning's New York Times help illustrate this basic point. The first letter says this:

FIRST LETTER (9/10/22): While declaring Donald Trump to be the “gravest threat American democracy faces” out of one side of his mouth, out of the other Mr. Stephens decries President Biden’s harsh words for the MAGA Republicans fervently supporting Mr. Trump.

He can’t have it both ways.

Many Republicans in Congress to this day refuse to admit that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Until these Republicans can bring themselves (and convince the majority of their party) to acknowledge that the presidency was not stolen from Mr. Trump, sharp words to save our democracy are warranted.

That writer seemed to think that Biden had mainly been savaging "many Republicans in Congress," or at least that he should have done that. 

In our view, that's one of the leadership groups Biden should have focused on. But is that who Biden specifically meant? In our view, the answer remains unclear.

As a second writer groped the elephant, he seemed to offer a somewhat similar view. This writer said he agreed with Stephens' criticism, but he added this:

SECOND LETTER: Bret Stephens nailed it. The threat to democracy is not Republicans or even just MAGA Republicans. It is the sinister and buffoonish Donald Trump, plus his inner circle that pushed his lies in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

This second writer seemed to agree that Biden had cast too wide a net. But he shouldn't have attacked Trump alone, this writer said. He should have attacked Trump "plus his inner circle," and he should have left it there.

We agree with that general view. That said, a third writer said he disagreed with Stephens' criticism of Biden:

THIRD LETTER: While I acknowledge the validity of some of Bret Stephens’s criticism of President Biden’s speech in Philadelphia, I take issue with his conclusion: “The gravest threat American democracy faces today isn’t the Republican Party, MAGA or otherwise. It’s Trump.”

This overlooks the fact that Trumpism has metastasized and infected the entire Republican Party. And getting rid of Donald Trump won’t eliminate the damage to our politics and electoral system that he leaves in his wake.

This writer is challenging Stephens, not Biden. But he seems to say that the problem Biden was discussing does involve "the entire Republican Party," presumably including tens of millions of Republican voters. 

That was the sweeping message Stephens took from Biden's speech. He thought Biden had been savaging the Republican Party's rank and file, not just its leadership groups.

A fourth writer offered a narrower definition of "MAGA extremists." Is this what Biden was talking about? In truth, he had provided no way to tell:

FOURTH LETTER: I agree with much of what Bret Stephens says about President Biden’s speech. I was a registered Republican from 1970 to 2016. I left the party the day Donald Trump got the nomination.

I think there is one simple litmus test that separates the MAGA deplorables from the regular or moderate Republicans. If you deny that Joe Biden won the election, if you insist that it had to be rigged, if you attended the Jan. 6 riot and acted violently, then yes, you are a MAGA extremist bent on the destruction of our democracy. It’s that simple.

This letter writer tickled the keys with a callback to Hillary Clinton's "deplorables" language. He seemed to say that if someone, including a mere Republican voter, thinks the last election was stolen, then that person qualifies as "a MAGA extremist bent on the destruction of our democracy."

In this writer's view, even a misinformed Republican voter is "bent on the destruction of our democracy!" That voter isn't (misguidedly) trying to save our democracy. He's bent on tearing it down.

That judgment strikes us as harsh, unintelligent, politically unwise. But could that be what Biden meant?

As of September 1, the president had made three speeches about "the extreme MAGA Republicans." But in a massive failure of presidential rhetoric, there was no way to know if he had meant to assert some such judgment. The president had failed to say, with any real clarity, who he was talking about.

In Stephens' view, Biden had pretty much indicted every Republican voter by the time he was through. Was Stephens right in that assessment? 

With the exception of one brief and fleeting disclaimer, Biden's rhetoric had been quite unclear. But hay-yo! This past Monday, on Labor Day, President Biden may have adjusted his rhetoric.

That very morning, we criticized the rhetoric the president had been using about "these extreme MAGA Republicans." 

In his blood-red speech, the president had described this group in blood-curdling terms. They were "committed to destroying America," he said—but he kept failing to specify who he was talking about. 

His rhetoric struck us as dangerous. In our view, he was blowing past a key distinction—the distinction between Republican leadership cadres and the Republican rank and file, between the misleaders and the misled.

But then, on Labor Day afternoon, a curious harbinger happened. During the 2 P.M. hour, on CNN, a Democratic strategist said this:

CAMEROTA (9/6/22): Zac Petkanas is a Democratic strategist and former rapid response director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Zac, I will start with you. 

President Biden more and more has been trying to draw this distinction between basically old-school Republicans that he knew and worked with and what he calls "MAGA Republicans." Is he giving an off-ramp to Republicans? Why is he hitting this so hard?

PETKANAS: Well, look, I think it's really important what President Biden is doing.

He's distinguishing between Republican voters who are mainstream, normal, just want to get by, to have food on the table, to send their kids to school, and Republican leaders, who are increasingly showing this level of extremism. And we're seeing it at the rallies. We're seeing it by calls by state legislatures to criminalize abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest.

These are things that are Republican leaders' priorities, but not Republican voters' priorities. And distinguishing that is really key to winning the midterms.

Say what? The president had been "distinguishing between Republican voters" and "Republican leaders?" It was Republican leaders, not Republican voters, who were "increasingly showing this level of extremism?"

Is that who Biden was talking about—the misleaders, not the misled? That's the distinction we had advised—but is that what Biden had been saying in his three speeches?

It's easy enough to voice that distinction; Petkanas had just done so! It's easy to include an additional phrase about the way the misleaders have been aggressively misleading the misled.

It's easy enough to do so such things. But in his three speeches to date on this topic, Biden had made little such effort.

We were struck by this new account of what Biden had been saying. And then, sure enough! During the 4 o'clock hour, Kaitlan Collins aired a brief excerpt of the president's speech in Wisconsin:

COLLINS (9/5/22): We're just 64 days away from the crucial November midterm elections and President Biden is visiting two battleground states, first in Wisconsin this afternoon, where the president once again tried to clarify what he meant by defining some Trump supporters, some Republicans, as "MAGA Republicans."

BIDEN (video): The extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress have chosen to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate, and division. But together, we can and we must choose a different path.

COLLINS: Next hour, President Biden is going to be speaking in Pennsylvania as well. His third visit to the commonwealth in just a week.

According to Collins, the president had once again tried to define who he was talking about. But now, he was railing against "the extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress." He had added two words to his brief.

You can read the text of the Wisconsin speech. Repeatedly, the president specifically attacks the behavior and the intentions of "these MAGA Republicans in Congress." 

He was specifically citing that leadership cadre, not the rank and file. In our view, he should have drawn that distinction all along.

Suddenly, Biden seemed to be narrowing his indictment. At least for one brief, shining moment, he was aiming his harsh rhetoric at the misleaders, not the misled.

That said, some people don't like this sort of thing. They prefer to do their loathing en masse—by the tens of millions.

That morning in the New York Times, Charles Blow had already complained about Biden's fleeting refusals to categorize every single Republican voter as a "MAGA Republican." 

Charles Blow is a good, decent person—but he's also a person person. We humans are wired to loathe en masse, even when such wholesale loathing makes no earthly sense.

On Monday, we'll consider Blow's column by the numbers. He wanted every Other attacked, even including the millions of Others who were moving away from Trump.

Tomorrow: Charles Blow, by the numbers


76 comments:


  1. Oh, dear.

    Orange Man Bad, TDS is killing brain-dead dembots.

    ...tell us something we don't know, dear Bob...

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    1. How can something that is dead be killed? Oh no! My brain is crashing at this paradox!

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    2. "Orange man bad" - for once Mao you got it right.

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  2. "In this September 7 column, Bret Stephens criticized Biden's speech, seeming to say that Biden had attacked with much too broad a brush."

    Here is an effective takedown of Stephens, especially with respect to Lincoln's address:

    http://yastreblyansky.blogspot.com/2022/09/rhetoric-mystic-chords.html

    Yastreblansky says: "Noteworthy, as Erik Loomis says, that Stephens is now agreeing that the Republican Party is the Confederacy. I mean, why else would he be urging Biden to treat the former the way Lincoln treated the latter?"

    Noteworthy also that Somerby is approvingly quoting conservatives and offers no defense, much less understanding of what Biden did say, as other liberals have been doing.

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    1. I suppose 11:28 just as the GOP excommunicates RINO's like Liz Cheney, we dems oughta ostracize DINO's like TDH, or perhaps exile him somewhere.

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    2. But your tribe's chiefs do it all the time, dear AC/MA.

      Most recently it was Tulsi Gabbard. But also (off the top of our head) Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney. It's just that they (and their subservient media) don't publicize it. They do it quietly.

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    3. Don't be an asshole. No one is suggesting TDH be censored or canceled. I personally just want him to tell the truth and say fewer ridiculous things. It is profoundly anti-democratic (small d) to refuse to interact with readers by never responding to comments.

      Has anyone here ever used the term DINO at all? I don't believe so. Somerby has the right to express whatever opinions he wants -- but when he calls himself a liberal or pretends that MSNBC or some pundit represents liberal thought, and then calls all of humanity longing to loathe (for example), he is spreading disinformation as surely as if he were recommending some quack covid cure. But we oppose him by responding to what he says, not by calling for him to be censored by Blogspot (his platform).

      There are a few races in 2020, where Republicans recruited supposedly Democratic candidates and had them get on the ballot as Democrats in order to split the Democratic vote and give the race to a Republican. Lying about one's affiliation in that context is not legal and certainly constitutes fraud and ratfucking. No one is accusing Somerby of doing something like that, but there is a point where lying becomes fraud.

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    4. mao, I've said it before, I don't belong to a "tribe." I'm a skeptic. I disagree and agree with both sides, or more likely there's lots of sides. I'm not a monomaniacal zealot, like you give the impression of being. If I'm with anybody, it's with A.E. Neuman - "what, me worry?"

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    5. Fine. Whatever "we dems" means, then.

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    6. I'm a registered dem for over 50 years, don't see that as belonging to a "tribe."

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    7. You sound extremely finicky. Maybe comment threads isn't your thing.

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  3. "but who had Biden been talking about? It was hard to tell from his speech, which was remarkably accusatory but also remarkably vague."

    This is only true if you do not follow politics, as most casual listeners to Biden's may not be doing. But it is sufficient for them to hear Biden's condemnation of Trump without an itemization of House members from other states and political operatives and the conservative pundits who support them. These names would mean nothing and greatly confuse Biden's main points about Trump and the MAGA Republicans.

    On the other hand, Somerby poses as a political junkie and should know all of the relevant names by heart. There should be no confusion for him about who Biden meant. That's why his pretended perplexity is ludicrous. Somerby knows (or should know) that Mitch McConnell pushed through Eileen Cannon's nomination as judge in Trump's Florida district so that she could help him out with his legal troubles, as she did with his special master request after the DOJ's search of Mar a Lago for illegal highly classified documents pertaining to nuclear secrets. Somerby should know what is going with the MAGA Republicans and exactly HOW they are undermining democracy all over our nation. The general public doesn't know and it was Biden's purpose to warn them, not those of us who have been closely following events from 2015 (and before).

    So, why is Somerby perpetrating this farce? I believe it is to expose liberals to conservative memes, perhaps induce confusion by spreading misinformation, and advance Trump's defense and his cause. That makes Somerby part of the MAGA crew. If Somerby were running for office, I would heed Biden's warning and vote against him, even with a D beside his name. Since he is not running, only writing disinformation daily and spreading propaganda, we must oppose him in different ways. And don't worry -- I am working in other ways to thwart MAGA semi-fascism too, as you should be if you claim to be liberal and not a Somerby-style Quisling.

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    1. anon 11:37, f/k/a Ivan Pisov. Your post comes as a relief. Here I was worrying that you were on the sidelines in the efforts to thwart MAGA-semifascism. With this welcome news that you are working on ways to thwart this semi-fascism, I, and I hope others, can now breathe easier. Also, thanks for the warning that I, perhaps not doing enough thwarting, may be in danger of forfeiting the right to claim that I'm a liberal, and not a "Somerby-style Quisling."

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    2. No, AC/MA, it doesn't work that way. You don't get to coast on other people's efforts. I have never thought of you as a liberal, so if you aren't doing anything to help those you do support, perhaps that is for the best. It does bother me to think that there are people in our country who do not value our democracy sufficiently to work to keep it alive. For example, have you ever donated to your public library? Do you help out at your kids' schools? Have you ever registered voters or been a precinct walker or worked phones or sent texts on behalf of a local candidate? There is a lot you can do, even if you don't have money to donate to help out in close races. Attend a school board meeting or public hearing, to try to balance out the MAGA extremists hogging the microphone. Every little bit helps and democracy works when people participate at all levels. And you might learn more about politics.

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    3. Here’s the question one more time, AC:MA. Exactly which group of people do you think shouldn’t have their rights protected, because that’s “identity politics”?

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    4. anon, 5:25, all people should have their "rights" protected, even you. Nothing I've said here has been to the contrary.

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    5. AC/MA,
      Then I apologize for confusing you with some idiot who was whining about "identity politics".

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  4. "But hay-yo! This past Monday, on Labor Day, President Biden may have adjusted his rhetoric."

    "may have"? Can't Somerby tell by comparing Biden's words? Rhetoric exists on the page, not in someone's head.

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  5. "This overlooks the fact that Trumpism has metastasized and infected the entire Republican Party. And getting rid of Donald Trump won’t eliminate the damage to our politics and electoral system that he leaves in his wake."

    If I were to say that covid has infected our entire nation, would I mean that every single last person had gotten covid? No one would read it that way. My statement would be taken to mean that covid was a threat everywhere in the country. When cancer metastatizes, does it infect any cells at all? No, it replaces healthy cells and forms a tumor, but the point is that it can then occur anywhere in the body.

    Biden clearly does not intend to say that every Republican, even Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney, have become Trump supporters or MAGA Republicans. The modifier "MAGA" says who Biden means among all Republicans -- obviously, the ones supporting Trump and his MAGA agenda. The ones at his rallies and donating money to his causes and writing letters of support to the NY Times, but also making death threats to school boards, offering specious excuses for those highly classified documents at Mar a Lago, and writing annoying blog comments that are unresponsive to discussion on liberal blogs. Also stealing lawn signs, trying to block protesters with their cars, waving guns at marchers, participating in insurrection, and even shooting them in churches and super markets. All of those people are MAGA Republicans, true believers in Trump's movement, and they are all a threat to our democracy because of their willingness to engage in violence to achievement political ends and their lack of support for our Constitution, including the peaceful transition between elections.

    Somerby appears to think that if he can move Biden off of his position that rank and file Republicans are among the MAGA Republicans causing problems, then he can get all of the MAGAs off the hook for their wrongdoing. Without the support of his MAGA rank and file, Trump would not have been elected in 2016 and he would not still be a problem for our nation. So, yes, Biden needed to tell ALL Republicans to stop supporting this monster who is a threat to our democracy and an enemy of the people, because they are too stupid to identify themselves as part of the problem, and thus too stupid to stop sending Trump money and writing letters to the NY Times, encouraging fools like Somerby.

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  6. "But now, he was railing against "the extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress."

    When Biden mentions the MAGA Republicans in Congress, that doesn't mean he is excusing the MAGA Republicans NOT in Congress, such as those who participated in 1/6 violence, or those who helped submit fake elector lists in various states, or those who have been trying to suppress voting by minorities all over the country. He is just focusing on those in Congress at a particular point in his speech, not limiting his entire definition to just those folks, as Somerby tries to force in this essay.

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  7. Who cares?
    We don't need Bret Stephens, nor Joe Biden, to tell us all Republicans are bigots.
    We have eyes.

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  8. "That morning in the New York Times, Charles Blow had already complained about Biden's fleeting refusals to categorize every single Republican voter as a "MAGA Republican."

    So, Somerby finally gets around to telling us why he has been villifying Blow -- it is because Blow has a different opinion than Somerby (and Biden) about who is a threat to democracy. And because Blow holds a different opinion, he is someone full of vile loathing? Meanwhile, many of us consider Blow to be closer to the truth than Somerby, since Blow correctly recognizes the danger when good, decent, rank and file MAGA Republicans vote for someone like Trump, twice, and then excuse him for inciting an insurrection, stealing highly classified documents and refusing to return them when demanded (and perhaps also giving them to the wrong foreign interests), for meddling Georgia's election results, for submitting false elector lists, for inciting a mob to attack his own VP (Mike Pence), and for defrauding his own followers by saying he will spend their money investigating voter fraud while instead putting those funds into his own pockets and spreading them amongst his cronies.

    Why should those who approve and suborn such acts be let off the hook, when the threat to our democracy would not be possible without their participation? If no one had gone to those Trump rallies in 2015, would Trump have been nominated? I doubt it. So I think Charles Blow has a much better case than Somerby, and I think Somerby should not waste our time railing against Blow, but should address the criticisms of Stephens position raised in Yastreblansky's article. I'll bet he can't do it -- because he would need to use logic and consistency of reasoning, and that is something he hasn't done in a long long time.

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  9. "President Biden adjusts his brief!"

    I'm sure Somerby thinks this subtitle is cute, but I find it disrespectful to the president to refer to him as if he were straightening his underwear.

    Somerby's argument that Biden meant something different when he talked specifically about MAGA Congress members is so thin that it seems likely he wrote this essay solely to present this juvenile reference to Biden's tighty whities.

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    1. Plus Biden went 100% diaper a while back so the context of the joke is inaccurate.

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    2. Ha ha ha ha, I get it! Biden is an old guy. So is Trump. Can you imagine Trump getting on a bicycle. That is the biggest joke. But haw haw haw, you are so funny!!

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    3. There has been a fair amount of ageism aimed at older members of Congress lately, and at Biden, but Trump is just as old and arguably in worse health. But there is no evidence that cognitive deterioration is inevitable with age and a lot of evidence that it depends on the person. Further, the aspects of cognition that are affected are not wisdom and judgment (which benefit from experience) but memory and speed of reflexes. Memory can be assisted using aids such as writing things down or referring to records or assistants, and speed doesn't matter at all, unless you are playing video games. A lot of cognitive functioning depends on overall health and fitness. That's why Biden's bike-riding is important and it is equally important to note that Trump rides whenever he can and appears to be both overweight and unfit, with a poor diet. Trump does not tell us what medications he takes, but the more you take, the greater the chance that a side effect of some drug may be mental fuzziness. That's why Biden's obvious sharpness is reassuring and Trump's inability to focus on a thought for longer than 10 seconds is disturbing. Many Democrats would prefer to have a younger presidential candidate, but it is hard to dispute that Biden's long time relationships with colleagues in the senate didn't contribute to his impressive legislative accomplishments and his ability to pull all factions of the Democratic party together (even the intransigent Sinema and Manchin, eventually). Trump, meanwhile, doesn't seem to understand how the world works and his personal life seems to be falling apart. That isn't reassuring and not someone I would vote for, considering only age and its effects on his functioning. He basically isn't functioning.

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    4. To be clear, Trump rides a golf cart, not a bicycle. He has trouble walking up and down ramps and needs to hold someone's hand going up a staircase. That may be a balance problem or a phobia, unclear which.

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  10. “With the exception of one brief and fleeting disclaimer, Biden's rhetoric had been quite unclear.”

    This is just horse manure. Biden’s speech was full of differentiating Trump or MAGA Republicans from other Republicans and speaking to the entire nation.

    A few examples:
    He emphasizes “we the people”:

    “We, the people, have burning inside each of us the flame of liberty that was lit here at Independence Hall — a flame that lit our way through abolition, the Civil War, Suffrage, the Great Depression, world wars, Civil Rights.”


    “I want to be very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans.  Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.
     
    I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.”

    “the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans”

    “I’m an American President — not the President of red America or blue America, but of all America.”

    “…respected conservatives, like Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Luttig, have called Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans, quote, a “clear and present danger” to our democracy.”

    “There are far more Americans — far more Americans from every background and belief who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it. “

    “Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans: We must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving American democracy than MAGA Republicans are to — to destroying American democracy. “

    And since he clearly defines the “MAGA Republican” ideology, it should be clear that the other Republicans, which Biden calls “mainstream” and says he can work with them, do not believe these things.

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    1. The ambiguity is not around whether or not he is differentiating Trump or MAGA Republicans from other Republicans. It's around what group makes up MAGA Republicans, the misleaders and the misled or one or the other.

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    2. 3:24: That isn’t ambiguous. Anyone who follows Trump is on the side of opposing democracy, whether “leader” or “misled.” Biden is trying to school these people to wake up and quit allowing themselves to be misled.

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    3. Biden has since said he was not referring to anyone who follows Trump. So, instructively, what you saw as an unambiguous fact turned out to be false. It shows your susceptibility to confirmation bias an ability to misread and misinterpret situations in a way that unfairly demonizes your political opponents.

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    4. I am referring to his speech of 9/1. It is clear from reading it what he meant by it.

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    5. Biden said he was not referring to all Republicans. He did say that Trump was the leader of MAGA extremists and he called out those extremists who do not believe in democracy. Whether that includes all Trump followers depends on the beliefs and actions of the people involved. It is hard to imagine someone today who is a Trump supporter but not also an election-denier, which is anti-democracy. If someone still supports Trump after the revelations of his wrongdoing, it seems likely they are MAGA extremists who are not put-off by the revelations of the 1/6 hearings and the DOJ search of Mar a Lago. That is about 70% of those who voted for him in 2020. Some estimates of the proportion of the population who are MAGA extremists put it at 10% of the overall population; 30% of Republicans seem to be consistent Trump supporters no matter what he does, which makes them extremists in my opinion.

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    6. You can't win a presidential election with 10% of the overall vote or 30% of Republican voters and no Democrats or Independents (who have been leaving Trump in larger numbers, now about 6% still supporting him). Biden is referring to those people, not all Republicans, as anti-democratic extremists.

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    7. If it is clear, did he mean the misleaders or the misled or a combination of them? If it is clear, explain that.

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    8. That misled vs misleaders is Somerby's formulation, not Biden. I doubt Biden would excuse those who stormed the Capitol building using violence against police, simply because they were misled. Biden didn't use that distinction perhaps because it wasn't what he intended to say, and if so, I agree that it isn't the best way to figure out who is dangerous.

      Somerby uses the misled formulation because he has argued in the past that Trump may not be responsible for his own plots and illegal acts, because he genuinely believes the election was stolen. Does a mistaken belief justify law breaking? Not in the eyes of the law. Nor does it make Trump harmless, if you think of him as misled by his own mistaken beliefs.

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    9. I don't think Biden walked back of adjusted his brief, I think he expanded on his statements about MAGA extremists and Trump. He said what he meant to say, so why should those who disagree rewrite his words as "adjusting his brief" instead of continuing the theme he began with his Thursday speech? That is presumptuous when this is the president speaking, with speechwriters and plenty of time to say what he meant. This wasn't some extemporaneous gaffe. Somerby is wrong to think that Biden spoke incorrectly or that he intended to say anything other than what he did say.

      I did vote for Biden and I would not vote for Somerby, not even as Biden's editor.

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  11. Horrible work from Somerby at his most craven, but at least he is moving his attacks toward the reactions to the remarks rather than attacking, solely, The President himself.
    And Bob laments the “Deplorable” comment to get in a kick at Hillary Clinton. Proud Boys and American Nazis, The Klan and Oath Keepers, always safe at The Daily Howler

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  12. The criticism of Trump and others who think the the 2020 election was stolen is exaggerated IMO, for several reasons.

    1. Doubt about an election's integrity is pretty common. The GA Gubernatorial election in 2018 is one example. Another is the count of votes for JFK in Chicago. Even in 2020, a popular slogan said that Trump was "selected", not "elected."

    2. Election doubters are often accused of "not accepting" the results. That's true in one sense but it's mostly false. Regardless of what the Trumpists say, they DO
    accept the results for all practical purposes. They obey laws and rules signed by President Biden and his Cabinet. There's no Government in Exile setting up alternative laws and rules.

    3. Election doubters don't do any real harm. Stacy Adams spent years claiming that she really won the 2018 election. So, what? He words don't have any particular effect on the state or the nation.

    4. These claims might do some good, if they encourage more efforts toward honest elections.

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    1. 1. Biden is not criticizing MAGA Republicans for doubting election results but for failing to support the peaceful transfer of office after all legal remedies to challenge such results had been exhausted.
      2. The Trumpists DID NOT accept the results when Trump and his cronies attempted in various illegal ways to keep Trump in office, ranging from failure to coordinate with the transition team, failure to turn over those documents to the archives, attempts to substitute fake elector lists, pressuring states to refuse to certify the results of their states, and the insurrection itself which was violent, planned and coordinated and nearly succeeded in harming Pelosi and Pence, among other targets. None of that is peaceful transition, and it all included not solely Trump but helpers including those Congress members who opposed the certification of Biden's win on the floor of congress. And yes, there is a "government in exile" plotting to allow states to overrule federal election results in their state legislatures, and there is Trump claiming powers he does not have as an ex-president while disobeying laws. And there are the congress members being fined for refusing to go through metal detectors or wear covid-masks in session to protect others. I believe we have not heard everything there is to hear about Trump's govt in exile and its relations with Saudi Arabia, for example.
      3. Election doubters undermine the faith of the public in our electoral system. That can result in fewer people voting, or in people refusing to accept valid election results. For some people, it justifies their sense that only violence will result in the outcomes they desire, not the will of the people (due to corruption). Yes, Stacey Abrams (try to get her name right) doubted the Georgia election and I doubt that Hillary lost the 2016 election, because of the meddling. But instead of mounting an armed insurrection, Dems have worked to make elections more fair and to get out more voters, so that margins are not close enough to be affected by interference. Trumps words encouraged his voters to engage in illegal acts, not solely on 1/6 but also by attempting to invade vote-counting venues and trying to violate procedures during elections. Republicans are being told that because of Democratic fraud, they should break the rules for those working or observing during elections.
      4. Working toward honest elections requires that Republicans stop telling their followers that any result that doesn't go their way was stolen. It requires that they stop trying to prevent Democrats from exercizing their franchise legally, and it requires that they stop gerrymandering and obstructing voting by those not of their party.

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    2. David, it's true dems have challenged past elections. Stacy Abrams, Trump's 2016 election, Bush's defeat of Gore & Kerry. But there has been nothing even to close the way Trump and his followers have carried on, basically undermining faith in democracy, moving us into banana republic territory. Pence vilified for not ignoring election results. Liz Cheney, and lots of other Republicans can see this, it's so obvious, but apparently not you. It's disappointing.

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    3. There has been nothing even close to the way your tribe (and the subservient establishment media) reacted to its 2016 defeat, either.

      Backlash. Blowback. That's just the law of nature.

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    4. People died as the result of the insurrection. Not entirely innocuous. Citing the results of the Chicago JFK election as an example of “frequent” events is rich. Circa 60 years ago. I would say that you can do better but I doubt it. Trump appointed a commission on election integrity in 2016 to root out all this so called fraud. They disbanded having found nothing, after about a year. When you decide to get your head out of Rupert Murdoch’s ass, David, you will be more prepared to level a rational argument of some sort here.

      Delete
    5. Tom Sullivan at Digby's blog writes about election integrity:

      "We’ve written plenty here over the years about the GOP’s obsession with election integrity and alleged rampant voter fraud believers can never seem to document. Trump’s Big Lie is just the most successful. Nurturing the impression that there are “so many problems” in elections is the point: to create public demand for solutions to an all-but-nonexistent problem. Barriers to voting operate like a one-way ratchet. Each new restriction passed means to shrink small-D democratic participation incrementally.

      Greg Sargent summarizes the lie powering the Republican fervor for election integrity:

      Here’s what’s really ugly about this saga: These Republicans aren’t just urging rule-breaking at the polls. They’re also justifying it by claiming in advance that Democrats are the real cheaters, per CNN, thus prefabricating a phony rationale for their own chicanery.

      This self-justifying ruse — Democrats will inevitably cheat, so pretty much anything goes to set things right — is absolutely foundational to right-wing efforts to corrupt democracy across the board, including laying the groundwork to steal future elections.

      After decades of Republicans promoting the narrative, “Democrats cheat” has become one of those “everyone knows” bits of mental flotsam conservatives take as given. No proof needed. Like “the Earth is flat.”

      Sargent recounts efforts by the GOP in Michgan to undermine election rules, all justified by the “reverse-justification” that Democrats cheat, so their cheating is just tit-for-tat:

      The 2020 results were confirmed by dozens of court cases and numerous audits. But no matter: The myth of a fraud-riddled 2020 will forever continue justifying whatever means Republicans decide are necessary at any given point.

      Republicans are just trying to restore the integrity of our elections, you see.

      […]

      For instance, Politico reported that the Republican National Committee recruited prominent Trumpist election deniers— including lawyer Cleta Mitchell — to train poll workers battleground states. This, too, is being done in the name of “election integrity.”

      Multiple GOP state-level candidates promise in the name of election integrity to overturn 2022 election results that do not fall Republicans’ way. The very opposite of integrity. Then again, those who talk about it the most….

      There is a corollary in right-wing media and in education policy, Sargent notes:

      As Nick Catoggio writes at the Dispatch, the presumption of corrupt mainstream media bias runs so deep that it has morphed into an automatic justifier of deceit by right-wing media, no matter how debased. Writer Jennifer Berkshire has located a similar dynamic in right-wing assaults on public education.

      Conservatives are forever victims in a diverse world hostile to recognizing their God-given right to minority rule. If they lose, someone must have cheated. Must have. No proof needed. (See post below.)

      When that happens, Sargent writes, “anything goes, and it’s all just a power struggle all the way down.”

      https://digbysblog.net/2022/09/10/just-a-power-struggle/

      Delete
    6. AC, lumping in the Dem losses in 2000 and 2004 together is lazy. In 2004,the griping came only from a pretty small group of spoilsports, 2000 was a very different situation. In both cases, a peaceful and honorable transfer of power took place. Any candidate has the right to recount a close election. Once it’s been litigated, only a crybaby, bully, and or crook won’t move on. Trump is obviously all three.

      Delete
  13. Somerby always provokes you uptighty whities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And they in turn provoke you. Just like clockwork.

      Delete
    2. Cecelia, how can you have any idea who here is white and who is not, aside from yourself?

      Delete
    3. Piece of cake, Anonymouse 3:43pm.

      Delete
    4. It's simple as a pimple.
      The white ones are the ones not having their votes suppressed by the Republican Party.

      Delete
  14. mh, please. My trigger is the opportunity to spout a bad joke.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem is that your bad jokes often reveal your political beliefs and attitudes and those are problematic here. For example, many liberals would not be so quick to assume that everyone on a blog is white, when nyms conceal identities and the only info is what people choose to say about themselves. But conservatives make such an assumption frequently because they consider white to be the dominant and rightful default in our society, without regard or respect for diversity.

      On other occasions your quips and jokes reveal a lack of empathy that is consistent among conservatives and not so much part of being liberal. That makes your jokes irritating and not as funny as you seem to find them.

      Delete
  15. Bobby has a habit of finding the world obtuse when facts are disagreeable to him.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is how you can tell a MAGA Republican extremist (from Political Wire):

    "Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) met with a Capitol rioter after her release from federal prison and gave her a flag that once flew over the Capitol as a gift.

    Gohmert falsely called the woman a “political prisoner.”

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sunday morning and Tom Sullivan at Digby's blog is discussing the value of a humanities degree -- even one in philosophy:

    https://digbysblog.net/2022/09/11/moloch-returns/

    ReplyDelete
  18. Rude Pundit said this about the speech:

    "Biden's speech was about threats to democracy. The one time he mentioned Democrats was in a list with others: "Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans: We must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving American democracy than MAGA Republicans are to destroying American democracy." Everyone united against a threat: honestly, how is that any different than a speech condemning terrorists for attacking the country? You don't ask for the terrorists to get a minute to explain the bombing because otherwise the speech is too "political." MAGAmites are trying to tear down democracy. That's a threat to the whole nation. Hell, it's even a threat to the MAGAmites, except they're too fucking stupid or corrupt to see it or care. "

    https://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2022/09/dark-brandon-ascending-random.html

    ReplyDelete
  19. Replies
    1. 16/59 actually = 27.11%

      Delete
    2. Meh. Sometimes the word-salad bot logs in, and sometimes it doesn't (see 4:12 PM for example). So, it's definitely more than 30%.

      Delete
    3. Same with you Mao, or Cecelia or AC/MA or anyone else who logs in. That's why it is silly when Cecelia assumes the anonymous commenters are all the same person. And 11:54 doesn't even log in. He/she could be the anonymous who does log in, for all we know. That's partly why this counting is silly. The other reason is because it is an empty comment with nothing of value to readers, taking up space and reader time without making any particular point, providing any information about any relevant topic or participating in discussion. A lot like a troll.

      Delete
    4. Whoever they are, it's very sad as they are obviously damaged.

      Delete
    5. Anonymouse 1:26pm, the irony is that you could register the name “Jane Doe” and be distinguishable in a way you aren’t now.

      You acquire a nym and I’ll call you that. Even if it’s a howling misnomer such as “Empathetic Sage”.




      Delete
    6. Or you could stop the ad hominems.

      Delete
    7. You’re the one calling people rodents because you don’t like their chosen names.

      Delete
    8. “Anonymous” is the default for commenters who do not choose a nym because they do not wish to be distinguishable from other commenters.

      It doesn’t matter if I label you Anonymous, Anonymouse, or more aptly- The Borg.




      Delete
    9. People are distinguishable here by their comments, not by their personal characteristics. There is nothing wrong with that. Calling other commenters things like "the borg" marks you as an uncivil person, a troll, who spends more time irritating people and making ad hominem remarks than talking about any political issue, much less the things Somerby has said in his essays.

      Delete
    10. You aren’t distinguishable by your comments or style. Anonymices repeat the same thing every day.

      You don’t agree with Somerby, so you insult his mind and say he’s of weak character, just as you do with anyone who disagrees with you.

      No one gives a rip about that, however, it is incongruous for anonymices to then moan about being called a mouse.

      Frankly, the only *legitimate beef over me calling anonymices “anonymices” could only come from real rodents.

      Delete
    11. I took Bob's advice about listening to "the Others". Turns out they only care about bigotry and white supremacy.

      Delete
  20. Charles Blow isn't a good, decent person.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Here is more actual media criticism from Aaron Rupar at Substack, interviewing Jay Rosen:

    https://aaronrupar.substack.com/p/jay-rosen-both-sides-journalism-cnn?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

    "In the Trump era, the stakes of each election are far greater than which party gets to set tax and spending policy. But that puts journalists in a challenging position. Covering the MAGA assault on truth and elections accurately makes it easy for the Fox Newses of the world to dismiss their coverage as biased and partisan. Political reporters face an uncomfortable dilemma where doing their job well means opening themselves up to attacks from Trumpers, but appeasing them requires treating misinformation and authoritarianism as though they are valid sides of a debate.

    Rosen has been a prominent critic of this “both sides” mode of journalism — one that often seems more concerned about offending Trump supporters than it does reporting honestly about their assault on democracy."

    Somerby, last week, placed himself squarely with the offended Trump supporters, not with those who see the urgency of protecting democracy, among them President Biden. Somerby is not a journalist, however, and thus does not have the duty to protect, other than as a citizen (the duty we all share), whereas journalists are part of the checks and balances intended to keep our government from becoming fascism, an authoritarian regime under an ignorant narcissist such as Trump. It would be better if Somerby took his citizen's duty as seriously as journalists like Rosen and Rupar do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You say this because you don't want Democrats to be criticized. It's not about Somerby, it about your inability to face criticism of the party that you've made a part of your identity. You're a neurotic fucking mess.

      Delete
    2. Bullshit.
      When Hillary Clinton said only half of Donald Trump's supporters were "deplorables", I was the first to criticize her for putting rosy optimism ahead of the truth.

      Delete