TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2022
The misleaders and the misled: Joe Biden began to deliver the message on Thursday, August 25.
That said, what exactly was the message? The messaging was extremely tough—but who was he talking about?
He spoke at a public event in Maryland. Here's part of what he said:
BIDEN (8/25/22): Look, I believe America is at a genuine inflection point that occurs every six or seven generations in world history—one of the moments—one of the moments that changes everything. And Americans are going have to choose.
You must choose. Will be it—will we be a country that moves forward or backward? Will we build a future or obsess over the past? Will we be a nation of unity, of hope, of optimism—not a nation of anger, violence, hatred, and division?
Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans have made their choice: to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate, and division.
Setting generational chronology to the side, we agree! We agree that the nation has reached a serious "inflection point"—an inflection point which may change a great many things moving forward.
It was at this point that President Biden cast the blame for this state of affairs. He blamed "the extreme MAGA Republicans" for this dangerous state of affairs—but who was he talking about?
According to Biden, these MAGA Republicans have made "the choice: to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate, and division." Depending on who he was talking about, we don't disagree with that—but as he continued, Biden made a fairly remarkable statement:
BIDEN (continuing directly): Well, here’s the deal. Here’s the deal: What’s happened is—what’s happened is there are no—there are not many real Republicans anymore.
By the way, your sitting governor [Larry Hogan]—he’s a Republican you can deal with. We disagree—no, no, I’m serious! But at least he’s within the mainstream of the Republican Party.
I respect conservative Republicans. I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans.
"I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans," the president now said. We don't exactly respect such people either—depending, of course, on who it is that Biden was talking about.
The president of the United States doesn't respect a group of Republicans—people who, the president said, are committed to hate and violence. Depending on who he was talking about, that would be a fairly remarkable thing for a sitting president to say.
As the president closed, he drove his point home. But he still hadn't made it entirely clear who he was talking about:
BIDEN (continuing directly): I’ll close with this: We’re at a serious moment in our nation’s history. The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security, they’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace—embrace—political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.
This is why, in this moment, those of you who love this country— Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans—we must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving America than the MAGA Republicans are to destroying America.
The group of people of whom Biden spoke are "a threat to our very democracy." And yes, it gets even worse:
In fact, the group of people of whom Biden spoke "are [committed] to destroying America!" Or so the American president said, producing a round of applause.
At this point, we're prepared to admit it. When we watched these excerpts that night, we almost thought we heard echoes of human disasters from various points on the globe. These human disasters have occurred, with great regularity, all through the annals of time.
We'll make another admission. As we watched those excerpts that night, we thought the president's tone was ill-advised. Most of all, our reaction was this:
If a sitting president is going to make such striking remarks, he should go to great lengths to be very clear concerning who he's talking about. But in this speech, President Biden named only one name:
He named Donald J. Trump, two times—but he named no one else.
As we watched these excerpts that night, he thought we might be hearing echoes of human disasters from around the world. We'll name some locales before the week's done. For today, we'll quit with this:
We wondered who Biden was talking about as he painted this startling portrait of a world of Us Against Them.
Who were the unnamed Others, the people he said we must stand to oppose? In particular, our question would be this:
Was he talking about Republican leadership cadres—the political and journalistic figures who have followed Donald J. Trump in producing waves of dis- and misinformation over the past seven years?
Or was he talking about the Republican rank and file—the 74 million people who voted for Trump the last time out? The millions of people who, by and large, don't know that they're being misled by their tribe's leadership cadres.
We agree with most of what Biden said, depending on who he was talking about! But who was he talking about? During this address, and an earlier private event that day, he had named only one name—that of Donald J. Trump.
(At the earlier private event, Biden has used the term "semi-fascism" to describe "the entire philosophy that underpins" the conduct of this heinous group.)
Biden was using remarkable language as he urged us to go to war with these demonic Others—with the people who are "committed to destroying America."
Biden was using remarkable language. Depending on who he was talking about, we'd say he was basically right.
But if history has taught us anything, history has tried to teach us this. It actually does make a major difference who Joe Biden was talking about:
Who was the president talking about? The misleaders or the misled?
Tomorrow: Some things some Trump voters believe