September 6, 2022

Biden’s Speech

President Joe Biden charged in a prime-time address that the ‘extreme ideology’ of Donald Trump and his adherents ‘threatens the very foundation of our republic,’ as he summoned Americans of all stripes to help counter what he sketched as dark forces within the Republican Party trying to subvert democracy.” AP News

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From the Left

The left defends Biden’s speech, arguing that the threats he identified are real and continue to be exacerbated by Trump’s rhetoric.

Right-wing political violence has been both threatened and real; local election administrators, school board members, FBI agents and IRS employees get death threats. Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested without condemnation that there’d be ‘riots in the streets’ if Trump is indicted for stealing top-secret documents…

“In state after state, Republicans have nominated election-deniers for top offices, changed laws to restrict voting and punished party members who defy Trump. They call the insurrectionists ‘patriots.’ Just hours before Biden spoke, Trump said that as president he’d pardon them and issue a government apology. ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ Biden retorted, ‘we can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American. They’re incompatible. We can’t allow violence to be normalized in this country.’… It was past time that [Biden] engaged those forces.”

Jackie Calmes, Los Angeles Times

“Conservatives [are] accusing Biden of discarding his campaign pledge to ‘unite our country’ and not stoke ‘division.’ (Republicans demonstrated their own commitment to unity and uplift after the speech by comparing Biden to Hitler and accusing him of being a ‘raving lunatic.’) But note that Biden wasn’t calling out all Republicans — he was not, contrary to the GOP talking points, attacking ‘half the country.’ He was careful to differentiate between normal Republicans and MAGA Republicans…

“‘Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans,’ he said. ‘Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.’… An NBC News poll found that only 41 percent of Republicans support Trump more than the party. Other polls show that only about 25 percent of Republicans approve of the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol… The GOP reaction to Biden’s speech has been so hysterical, one suspects, precisely because Republicans fear that his strategy — of turning ‘MAGA’ into a toxic brand — might succeed.”

Max Boot, Washington Post

How did Trump respond [to the speech]? By proving Biden 100% correct. At his rally Saturday in Pennsylvania, Trump was not content to serve up more lies about the 2020 election that he lost. He did far worse: He used his platform to demonize the FBI, Justice Department and the federal magistrate who signed the warrant authorizing the August 8 search of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida…

“Let's not forget that a Trump supporter incensed over Mar-a-Lago the search waged an armed attack on an FBI office in Ohio and died in a subsequent confrontation with the police. There have also been antisemitic threats directed at the federal magistrate who approved the search warrant…

“Before January 6, one could dismiss Trump's words as heated political rhetoric. But in a post-January 6 America, we ignore Trump's words at our own peril -- and that of our democracy.”

Dean Obeidallah, CNN

From the Right

The right criticizes Biden’s speech, arguing that he conflated democracy with the Democratic Party’s priorities and ignored anti-democratic behavior from the left.

The right criticizes Biden’s speech, arguing that he conflated democracy with the Democratic Party’s priorities and ignored anti-democratic behavior from the left.

“Biden’s speech conflated the refusal to accept election outcomes with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage — implying that the positions of his own Catholic Church are part of a ‘MAGA Republican’ threat to democracy itself — while touting a State of the Union‌-style list of policy achievements, a cascade of liberal self-praise…

“The speech’s warning against eroding democratic norms was delivered a week after Biden’s semi-Caesarist announcement of a $500 billion student-loan forgiveness plan without consulting Congress. And it was immediately succeeded by the news that Democrats would be pouring millions in advertising into New Hampshire’s Republican Senate primary, in the hopes of making sure that the Trumpiest candidate wins…

You may believe that American democracy is threatened as at no other point since the Civil War, dear reader, but they do not. They are running a political operation in which the threat to democracy is leverage, used to keep swing voters onside without having to make difficult concessions to the center or the right.”

Ross Douthat, New York Times

“Without a doubt, the [Jan. 6] riot was awful and embarrassing. But we also had ongoing insurrections in American cities from Seattle to Washington DC, where armed militants seized entire city blocks and held them as ‘autonomous zones’ where they claimed US authority didn’t exist. In Portland, left-wing domestic terrorists attacked the federal courthouse for weeks on end, if not months. In Minneapolis, where I lived at the time and which was the epicenter of these insurrections, armed mobs assaulted law-enforcement officers, burned out hundreds of businesses, looted thousands more, and created a lawlessness that still exists to this day…

“Did Biden ever bother to lecture America on those insurrections, those assaults on police — not just in Minneapolis, but across the country? No; instead, he played footsie with the significant number of ‘defund the police’ nihilists in his own party, including a number of Democrats in Congress. His defenders insist now that Biden never endorsed ‘defund the police,’ but he’s never rebuked his party for their own anti-law-enforcement rhetoric.”

Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Some argue, “I thought it was a perfectly defensible campaign speech… But it wasn’t billed as a campaign speech. It was an official primetime presidential address, introduced by the Marine Band and guarded by Marines…

“Countless defenders of Biden’s speech say he was perfectly within his rights to use a national monument and a presidential address for partisan purposes because Trump did that kind of thing all the time. They’re right that Trump did that kind of thing all the time, but if you condemned it for Trump, why are you celebrating it for Biden?”

Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch

A libertarian's take

“It's true that former President Trump threw a temper tantrum when he lost the 2020 election and that his supporters rioted at the Capitol. To this day, Trump and company nurse fantasies of stolen elections. But it's not clear what use for the Constitution and rule of law is harbored by his successor, who took office with an avalanche of executive orders that disconcerted even The New York Times editorial board and recently launched a half-trillion-dollar vote-buying scheme by unilaterally forgiving student loans…

“The FBI [recently] distributed a bulletin on symbols ‘used by Anti-Government or Anti-Authority Violent Extremists’ that included patriotic imagery from the American Revolution. It makes you wonder why the White House bothered to choose Independence Hall as the backdrop for last week's speech. And earlier, the Department of Homeland Security had to quickly deep-six its new Disinformation Governance Board after discovering that Americans aren't ready to let government officials define truth… Biden is right that Donald Trump and the Republican party represent an authoritarian threat to this country. But if he takes a clear look in the mirror, he'll see himself and his Democrats offering nothing better than competing authoritarianism.”
J.D. Tuccile, Reason

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