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Joe Biden: Democracy, Girl, You In Danger
First, DO NOT go up to the attic alone.
This week — just this week! — congressional Republicans are bent on shutting down the government while also pursuing an impeachment of Joe Biden on the basis of no evidence at all. Republican presidential candidates held a “debate” where none of them could articulate anything like a vision of governing. And the former “president” of the United States called for Gen. Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and Trump’s own appointee), to be executed for “treason,” but fellow Republicans said virtually nothing about it, although Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) also called for Milley’s execution, because as you may have noticed, the Republican Party is full of crazy assholes these days.
That’s the context for the speech President Biden gave yesterday in Tempe, Arizona, at an event to mark a new library honoring the late Sen. John McCain. Biden pointed to his long friendship with McCain, and in sharp contrast to the threat posed by today’s MAGA cult, their ability to work together at times despite their real political differences. He warned, “There’s something dangerous happening in America right now,” calling Trumpists “an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs in our democracy.”
Biden noted that he used to think the commonplace idea from political science classes that “every generation has to protect democracy” was merely a saying, then added, “But here I am, as president of the United States of America, making this speech about my fear of the diminishment of democracy.” And while we still face the danger of political violence, as on January 6, 2021, he warned, there are other ways to lose a nation, too:
“Democracies don’t have to die at the end of a rifle. They can die when people are silent, when they fail to stand up or condemn the threats to democracy, when people are willing to give away that which is most precious to them because they feel frustrated, disillusioned, tired, alienated. I get it. I really do.”
This was the fourth speech in the last two years Biden has given about the threats Donald Trump and his followers pose to democracy, and if you have a spare half hour today, you should watch it. Yes, even if you aren’t a big John McCain fan. (We’ve cued the video to the beginning of Biden’s remarks; sorry, Cindy McCain, we’re monsters.)
Biden called attention to Trump’s call for Milley to be killed, underlining how absolutely bizarre it is that the likely Republican nominee for 2024 would say that, here, in the USA. Just as bizarre, he noted, is Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s one-man stand against … military readiness.
“And although I don’t believe even a majority of Republicans think that, the silence is deafening. The silence is deafening.
“Hardly any Republican called out such heinous statements, just as they watch one MAGA senator outrageously — instead, blocking the promotions of hundreds of top military leaders and affecting not only those leaders but their families, their children.
“MAGA extremists claim support of our troops, but they are harming military readiness, leadership, troop morale, freezing pay, freezing military families in limbo.”
He went on to remind the audience that Trump couldn’t be bothered to visit a WWI military cemetery in France during the centenary of the Armistice, dismissing American war dead as “suckers” — and again, Biden reminded us that we should all be astonished by an American president saying such a thing:
“I’m not making this up. I know we all tried not to remember it, but that’s what he said. He called servicemen ‘suckers’ and ‘losers.’
“Was John a sucker? Was my son, Beau, who lived next to a burn pit for a year, came home, and died — was he a sucker for volunteering to serve his country?
“The same guy who denigrates the heroism of John McCain. It’s not only wrong, it’s un-American. But it never changes.”
Biden called attention to Trump’s repeated claims that the Constitution gave him “the right to do whatever he wants as President,” adding that “I’ve never even heard a president say that in jest. Not guided by the Constitution or by common service and decency toward our fellow Americans but by vengeance and vindictiveness.”
He went on, calling out Trump’s vow to his cult that “I am your retribution,” Ron DeSantis’s talk of “slitting throats” of civil servants, the GOP’s whitewashing of the January 6 coup attempt as “legitimate political discourse,” and Paul Gosar’s insistence that “we must destroy the FBI.”
“It’s not one person,” Biden noted. “It’s the controlling element of the House Republican Party.”
Biden also, of course, recalled Trump’s 2015 dismissal of McCain as not really a hero because he’d been captured. We were so naive back then, early in the 2016 campaign, that we illustrated our story about it with a gif of an airliner crashing and breaking apart, as we thought Trump’s campaign surely would after such an outrageous statement. Silly us.
Instead, Trumpism won and we need to make sure that Donald Trump and his mob of terrorists never ever get past the cockpit door again.
As in his other speeches on the MAGA cult, Biden emphasized that while the threat to democracy is real, the true strength of American democracy is that we can come together and stop the crazies from taking over. As if to illustrate that, when a protester angrily demanded that Biden declare a climate emergency immediately (yes he should), Biden didn’t call for security to “knock the crap out of him,” but instead put up with it for a few seconds and said, "If you shush up, I'll meet with you immediately after this," to applause.
Biden followed that by adding, “But democracy never is easy, as we just demonstrated.”
As it turns out, the protester said afterward he didn’t hear that invitation, but yes, he would like to meet with Biden.
That’s a lot better than calling for the protester to rot in prison or be executed. Let’s keep running this country Joe’s way, please.
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