Biden: MAGA Republicans Threaten Republic – Outside the Beltway

Biden: MAGA Republicans Threaten Republic

The President delivered a rousing stump speech from Independence Hall.

I was only barely aware that President Biden was giving a prime time speech last night and had forgotten about it by the time he did. It was, apparently, quite a doozy.

WaPo (“Biden warns U.S. faces powerful threat from anti-democratic forces“):

President Biden delivered a forceful address Thursday on what he called a dangerous assault on American democracy, warning that “too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal” as “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

Biden’s speech, outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, was a remarkable assessment from a sitting president that the fabric of American governance is under serious threat — “we do ourselves no favors to pretend otherwise,” he said. While Biden did not name Republicans other than the former president, he warned of election deniers who have won Republican primaries and those who have sought to overturn legitimate elections.

“We are still at our core a democracy — yet history tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader, and the willingness to engage in political violence, is fatal to democracy,” Biden said. “There is no question that the Republican Party is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.”

Biden on Thursday appeared to seek a balance between the lofty tones of a presidential address and the sharp, personal criticism of Republicans that many in his party believe is necessary to meet a moment of crisis. While paying tribute to the country’s grand historical traditions, Biden also suggested the upcoming election is a battle between those embracing American values and those trying to destroy them.

White House officials stressed repeatedly that Biden’s speech was not political, saying the defense of democracy is hardly a partisan topic. While Biden did criticize Republicans, he made it clear he was only attacking what he called “MAGA Republicans,” a reference to those who are loyal to Trump and his false claims of rigged elections.

Staff writer Amber Phillips:

Biden isn’t trying to come across as partisan when he talks about democracy, a senior White House official told reporters earlier in the day — and he would not try to persuade the public to vote for his party.

And no matter what the president said tonight, it was probably inevitable that this speech would be received as partisan. Republican candidates far more frequently deny election results than Democrats. Biden has been out in front with his party in talking about this, with sharp language that made even some Democrats flinch. “It’s like semi-fascism,” he said on the campaign trail recently, of the ethos he says underlies the right wing of the Republican Party.

That has given Republicans an opening to attack him as overreaching with his warnings about the state of democracy. Right before the president’s address, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Biden should first apologize to Trump supporters “for slandering tens of millions of Americans as ‘fascists.’ “

Instead of shying away from that kind of language, Biden mentioned his potential 2024 opponent by name.

Though the president did take care to say there are “mainstream Republicans” who do not subscribe to an “extreme ideology” — a line that drew applause — he also continued: “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.”

He went on to tie what he called “MAGA Republicans” to many GOP state legislatures’ unpopular abortion bans, as well as to the most conservative Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, who suggested in his recent abortion opinion that the court could roll back same-sex marriage rights.

“MAGA Republicans want to take America backwards, backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love,” Biden said.

NPR’s Domenico Montanaro observes, “Biden’s speech walks a fine line in its attack on MAGA Republicans.”

Lots of his candidates have won contentious primaries; he’s consolidated his base; and his renewed presence has threatened to make the November elections a choice rather than a referendum on President Biden.

Biden and the White House leaned into that Thursday night with an unusual prime-time address that broke no news or made any big announcements. Instead, Biden took the opportunity to elevate Trump and make it a choice between what Biden and Democrats stand for and MAGA Republican extremism, as he sees it, and their rising influence in positions of power throughout the country.

[…]

Elections, especially midterm elections, are traditionally a check on the president. Inflation is high, Biden is unpopular and people are pessimistic about the direction of the country. That usually would mean a wipeout in a president’s first midterm.

So this gave Biden an opportunity to deflect from that – and lay out a choice.

“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards,” Biden said, “backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”

He highlighted threats to democracy as being urgent and instigated by Trump. Biden doesn’t often use Trump’s name, but he name-checked him three times in this speech. And when you do that, it’s going to look and sound political. And that was obviously intentional.

With Trump back in the news, it offered Biden a way to elevate him, hold him up as the standard-bearer of the GOP, what it stands for, and draw a line in the sand.

“It’s pretty clear they want to amplify the MAGA message,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. “Almost feels like a pre-argument against what a Republican House might be pushing for the next two years, setting up a broader narrative about how he is fighting to stop Republicans from anti-democratic moves.”

In a column written before the speech was delivered, former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen goes much further, exclaiming that “Biden is disgracing the institution of the prime-time presidential address.” After a long discussion about the serious topics such speeches have been devoted to in recent years, he observes,

Biden is the only president in more than four decades to ask the major news networks to preempt their prime-time programming just weeks before an election and broadcast a campaign speech whose stated purpose is to attack the opposition party.

For the sitting president to commandeer the institution of a prime-time presidential address — one that has been employed by his predecessors to comfort us in tragedy, announce military action and make the case for policy initiatives of great consequence — and use it to for partisan attacks is not a legitimate use of such a forum.

There’s simply no excuse for networks to give Biden free airtime for this speech — much less to do so without giving Republicans equal time to respond. If Biden wants to deliver a prime-time campaign ad attacking Republicans, he should have to pay for it.

I’m inclined to agree. But also torn.

The job of the President is inherently political and separating politics from partisanship is next to impossible in this era. Taking to the airwaves to tout his own legislative successes or urge the passage of stalled bills would naturally be seen as stumping but would still be within the normal bounds of these speeches. Biden went well beyond policy advocacy, though, and essentially delivered a 30-minute campaign ad. And networks have, going back to the first year of the George W. Bush presidency, refused to carry speeches that were deemed either insufficiently newsworthy or electioneering.

At the same time, this is an extension of a problem that’s been ongoing since at least the inauguration of Donald Trump if not his campaign: rules designed for normal times and normal politicians don’t work well in extraordinary circumstances. Declaring that Trump and those who aid and abet him are a threat to the Republic is both hyperpartisan grandstanding unbefitting a prime-time presidential address and undeniably true.

Similarly, this is both electioneering* and a call for a return to normalcy:

MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution.  They do not believe in the rule of law.  They do not recognize the will of the people. 
 
They refuse to accept the results of a free election.  And they’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.
 
MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.
 
They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.
 
They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th — brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.
 
And they see their MAGA failure to stop a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections.
 
They tried everything last time to nullify the votes of 81 million people.  This time, they’re determined to succeed in thwarting the will of the people.

Still, at the end of the day, this is a campaign speech, not a prime-time presidential address. He’s not stumping for election reform or other policy changes to strengthen democracy. Rather, he’s calling on Americans to vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.

His close is very much a stump speech:

I want to say as clearly as we can: We are not powerless in the face of these threats.  We are not bystanders in this ongoing attack on democracy.

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

And, folks, it is within our power, it’s in our hands — yours and mine — to stop the assault on American democracy.

I believe America is at an inflection point — one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s to come after.

And now America must choose: to move forward or to move backwards?  To build the future or obsess about the past?  To be a nation of hope and unity and optimism, or a nation of fear, division, and of darkness?

MAGA Republicans have made their choice.  They embrace anger.  They thrive on chaos.  They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.

But together — together, we can choose a different path.  We can choose a better path.  Forward, to the future.  A future of possibility.  A future to build and dream and hope.

And we’re on that path, moving ahead.

I know this nation.  I know you, the American people.  I know your courage.  I know your hearts.  And I know our history.

This is a nation that honors our Constitution.  We do not reject it.  (Applause.)

This is a nation that believes in the rule of law.  We do not repudiate it.  (Applause.)

This is a nation that respects free and fair elections.  We honor the will of the people.  We do not deny it.  (Applause.)

And this is a nation that rejects violence as a political tool.  We do not encourage violence.

We are still an America that believes in honesty and decency and respect for others, patriotism, liberty, justice for all, hope, possibilities. 

We are still, at our core, a democracy.  (Applause.)

And yet history tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.

For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed, but it’s not.

We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for it — each and every one of us.

That’s why tonight I’m asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.  (Applause.)

We’re all called, by duty and conscience, to confront extremists who will put their own pursuit of power above all else. 

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. 

We, the people, will not let anyone or anything tear us apart.  Today, there are dangers around us we cannot allow to prevail.   We hear — you’ve heard it — more and more talk about violence as an acceptable political tool in this country.  It’s not.  It can never be an acceptable tool. 

So I want to say this plain and simple: There is no place for political violence in America.  Period.  None.  Ever.  (Applause.)

We saw law enforcement brutally attacked on January the 6th.  We’ve seen election officials, poll workers — many of them volunteers of both parties — subjected to intimidation and death threats.  And — can you believe it? — FBI agents just doing their job as directed, facing threats to their own lives from their own fellow citizens. 

On top of that, there are public figures — today, yesterday, and the day before — predicting and all but calling for mass violence and rioting in the streets.

This is inflammatory.  It’s dangerous.  It’s against the rule of law.  And we, the people, must say: This is not who we are.  (Applause.) 

Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t be pro-ex- — pro-ex- — pro-insurrectionist and pro-American.  They’re incompatible.  (Applause.)

We can’t allow violence to be normalized in this country.  It’s wrong.  We each have to reject political violence with — with all the moral clarity and conviction this nation can muster.  Now.

We can’t let the integrity of our elections be undermined, for that is a path to chaos. 

Look, I know poli- — politics can be fierce and mean and nasty in America.  I get it.  I believe in the give-and-take of politics, in disagreement and debate and dissent.

We’re a big, complicated country.  But democracy endures only if we, the people, respect the guardrails of the republic.  Only if we, the people, accept the results of free and fair elections.  (Applause.)  Only if we, the people, see politics not as total war but mediation of our differences. 

Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: either they win or they were cheated.  And that’s where MAGA Republicans are today.  (Applause.)

They don’t understand what every patriotic American knows: You can’t love your country only when you win.  (Applause.)  It’s fundamental. 

American democracy only works only if we choose to respect the rule of law and the institutions that were set up in this chamber behind me, only if we respect our legitimate political differences.  

I will not stand by and watch — I will not — the will of the American people be overturned by wild conspiracy theories and baseless, evidence-free claims of fraud. 

I will not stand by and watch elections in this country stolen by people who simply refuse to accept that they lost.  (Applause.) 

I will not stand by and watch the most fundamental freedom in this country — the freedom to vote and have your vote counted — and — be taken from you and the American people.  (Applause.) 

Look, as your President, I will defend our democracy with every fiber of my being, and I’m asking every American to join me.  (Applause.)

(A protestor disruption can be heard.)

Throughout our history, America has often made the greatest progress coming out of some of our darkest moments, like you’re hearing in that bullhorn. 

I believe we can and we must do that again, and we are. 

MAGA Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and despair.  They spread fear and lies — lies told for profit and power. 

But I see a very different America — an America with an unlimited future, an America that is about to take off.  I hope you see it as well.  Just look around.

I believed we could lift America from the depths of COVID, so we passed the largest economic recovery package since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  And today, America’s economy is faster, stronger than any other advanced nation in the world.  (Applause.)  We have more to go.

I believed we could build a better America, so we passed the biggest infrastructure investment since President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  And we’ve now embarked on a decade of rebuilding
the nation’s roads, bridges, highways, ports, water systems, high-speed Internet, railroads.  (Applause.)

I believed we could make America safer, so we passed the most significant gun safety law since President Clinton.  (Applause.)

I believed we could go from being the highest cost of prescriptions in the world to making prescription drugs and healthcare more affordable, so we passed the most significant healthcare reforms since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act.  (Applause.)

And I believed we could create — we could create a clean energy future and save the planet, so we passed the most important climate initiative ever, ever, ever.  (Applause.)

The cynics and the critics tell us nothing can get done, but they are wrong.  There is not a single thing America cannot do — not a single thing beyond our capacity if we do it together.

It’s never easy.  But we’re proving that in America, no matter how long the road, progress does come.  (Applause.)

Look, I know the last year — few years have been tough.  But today, COVID no longer controls our lives.  More Americans are working than ever.  Businesses are growing.  Our schools are open.  Millions of Americans have been lifted out of poverty.  Millions of veterans once exposed to toxic burn pits will now get what they deserve for their families and the compa- — compensation.  (Applause.) 

American manufacturing has come alive across the Heartland, and the future will be made in America — (applause) — no matter what the white supremacists and the extremists say. 

I made a bet on you, the American people, and that bet is paying off.  Proving that from darkness — the darkness of Charlottesville, of COVID, of gun violence, of insurrection — we can see the light.  Light is now visible.  (Applause.)

Light that will guide us forward not only in words, but in actions — actions for you, for your children, for your grandchildren, for America.

Even in this moment, with all the challenges we face, I give you my word as a Biden: I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future.  Not because of me, but because of who you are.

We’re going to end cancer as we know it.  Mark my words.  (Applause.)

We are going to create millions of new jobs in a clean energy economy.

We’re going to think big.  We’re going to make the 21st century another American century because the world needs us to.  (Applause.)

That’s where we need to focus our energy — not in the past, not on divisive culture wars, not on the politics of grievance, but on a future we can build together.

The MAGA Republicans believe that for them to succeed, everyone else has to fail.  They believe America — not like I believe about America. 

I believe America is big enough for all of us to succeed, and that is the nation we’re building: a nation where no one is left behind.

I ran for President because I believed we were in a battle for the soul of this nation.  I still believe that to be true.  I believe the soul is the breath, the life, and the essence of who we are.  The soul is what makes us “us.”

The soul of America is defined by the sacred proposition that all are created equal in the image of God.  That all are entitled to be treated with decency, dignity, and respect.  That all deserve justice and a shot at lives of prosperity and consequence.  And that democracy — democracy must be defended, for democracy makes all these things possible.  (Applause.)  Folks, and it’s up to us.

Democracy begins and will be preserved in we, the people’s, habits of heart, in our character: optimism that is tested
yet endures, courage that digs deep when we need it, empathy that fuels democracy, the willingness to see each other not as enemies but as fellow Americans.

Look, our democracy is imperfect.  It always has been.

Notwithstanding those folks you hear on the other side there.  They’re entitled to be outrageous.  This is a democracy.  But history and common sense — (applause) — good manners is nothing they’ve ever suffered from. 

But history and common sense tell us that opportunity, liberty, and justice for all are most likely to come to pass in a democracy.

We have never fully realized the aspirations of our founding, but every generation has opened those doors a little wider to include more people who have been excluded before.

My fellow Americans, America is an idea — the most powerful idea in the history of the world.  And it beats in the hearts of the people of this country.  It beats in all of our hearts.  It unites America.  It is the American creed.

The idea that America guarantees that everyone be treated with dignity.  It gives hate no safe harbor.  It installs in everyone the belief that no matter where you start in life, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.

That’s who we are.  That’s what we stand for.  That’s what we believe.  And that is precisely what we are doing: opening doors, creating new possibilities, focusing on the future.  And we’re only just beginning.  (Applause.)

Our task is to make our nation free and fair, just and strong, noble and whole.

And this work is the work of democracy — the work of this generation.  It is the work of our time, for all time.

We can’t afford to have — leave anyone on the sidelines.  We need everyone to do their part.  So speak up.  Speak out.  Get engaged.  Vote, vote, vote.  (Applause.)

And if we all do our duty — if we do our duty in 2022 and beyond, then ages still to come will say we — all of us here — we kept the faith.  We preserved democracy.  (Applause.)  We heeded our wor- — we — we heeded not our worst instincts but our better angels.  And we proved that, for all its imperfections, America is still the beacon to the world, an ideal to be realized, a promise to be kept.

There is nothing more important, nothing more sacred, nothing more American.  That’s our soul.  That’s who we truly are.  And that’s who must — we must always be.

And I have no doubt — none — that this is who we will be and that we’ll come together as a nation.  That we’ll secure our democracy.  That for the next 200 years, we’ll have what we had the past 200 years: the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. 

We just need to remember who we are.  We are the United States of America.  The United States of America.  (Applause.)

And may God protect our nation.  And may God protect all those who stand watch over our democracy.  God bless you all.  (Applause.)  Democracy.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

It’s a very good stump speech. As written, it’s perhaps the best one Biden has ever given. I hope it’s an effective one. But an attack on the opposition party and a call to vote for Democrats is not what Presidential addresses to the nation are supposed to be.

____________________

*The case that this is about preserving democracy and not politics would have been strengthened by omitting the line “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.” Aside from being hyperbolic, much of this is mainstream conservatism—and believed in by not insignificant numbers of Democrats—rather than something uniquely MAGA.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Still, at the end of the day, this is a campaign speech, not a prime-time presidential address.

    I am not sure this is fair. On the one hand, as you allude, any speech is inherently political, even in the campaign sense of the term. Any speech given is at least in part about the next election and any speech given at this time of the year is going to be accessed of being more about party than office.

    Still, I am not sure that there is such a thing as a pure “prime-time presidential address” in any real sense. They are always about boosting the message and fortunes of the sitting president, and thereby his party, yes?

    And when you have a faction of a major party threatening core democratic principles, one would expect a pro-democratic president to hopefully say something, and doing so after the election is fixing the barn door after the cows have come home, yes?

    And it is impossible for such a speech not to make a lot of Rs mad.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Oh, sure. And, again, that’s why I’m torn. But (as noted in the quote from NPR’s Montanaro that I added in shortly after posting) there is no news here. It’s highly unusual to have a prime-time presidential address that doesn’t break news. And, when it doesn’t, it’s almost about passing a policy agenda. This was pure politics: The opposition party is a danger to the Republic so, please, vote Democrat.

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  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    If Biden had scheduled a prime time address to deal with a plague of locusts we would not be calling it political and no one would suggest that the locusts should get free air time to argue their case. The threat to democracy is a real threat, not a manufactured one. The notion that the very people attacking democracy should get equal time is absurd.

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  4. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner:

    This was pure politics: The opposition party is a danger to the Republic so, please, vote Democrat.

    This is about the survival of American democracy. Full fucking stop. Biden’s speech was an impassioned defense of the very foundation of American governance and to reduce it to mere politics is exceedingly unfair to the President. He gave the speech that needed to be given.

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  5. Kathy says:

    “Republicans outraged that Biden is saying the quiet parts loud.”

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.” Aside from being hyperbolic, much of this is mainstream conservatism

    On the one hand, it’s hyperbolic. On the other, it’s true. Pick one, James.

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  7. Scott F. says:

    But an attack on the opposition party and a call to vote for Democrats is not whatPresidential addresses to the nation are supposed to be.

    Using a Presidential Address to defend democracy from the opposition party is unprecedented, because the MAGA Republican threat is unprecedented. That such unprecedented action was deemed necessary is not on Biden, but on the Trumpists.

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  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Thiessen is among the anti-anti Trump partisans, he would be happy if R legislatures rigged elections so that only R’s won, just don’t ask him to show you his dirty hands.

    Sometimes leadership means going beyond measured tones and calls for unity. A not insignificant part of our citizenry is seeking to destroy democracy and and another junk is willing to let them to serve selfish, short term goals.

    @James, this is an occasion where your predisposition to dispassionately examine something and give equal time to both arguments is partially blinding you to the danger we face. Yes, this speech is extraordinary when looking at presidential addresses, but we are living in extraordinary times.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    On the one hand, Ginni Thomas lobbied Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn 2020 election but on the other, Biden told the truth about Republicans in a prime time speech.

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    David Frum gets it right.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/joe-bidens-speech-trump-republicans/671326/

    During his presidency, Trump repeatedly used places of national memory for partisan purposes. He gave a slashing partisan interview to Fox News from the Lincoln Memorial. At Mount Rushmore, he denounced “a new far-left fascism” that seeks “to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.” Accepting the 2020 Republican nomination on the grounds of the White House, he predicted that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, would be “the destroyer of American greatness.”

    ———————-
    The response from Biden’s Republican opponents has been hotter than mere tut-tutting. Biden’s sharp speech has only one justification: So much of it is true.

    “There are public figures today, yesterday, and the day before predicting and all but calling for mass violence and rioting in the streets,” Biden said. That’s a reference to the threats from Senator Lindsey Graham and others of “rioting in the streets” if Trump were to face charges for taking classified documents home with him after he left the White House.

    “We’ve seen election officials, poll workers, many of them volunteers of both parties, subject to intimidation and death threats,” Biden said. As he could have said but did not, the intimidation and threats have come almost exclusively from Trump supporters in the grip of delusions about the 2020 election spread by the defeated ex-president.
    ———————————-
    Trump changed the rules of politics. Everybody, on all sides of politics, has no choice but to adapt. You may feel nostalgia for other days, but these are your days. Emphasis mine.

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  11. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds and @Mikey: Again, I fundamentally agree with that. The problem is that, when the “threat to democracy” is the opposition political party, it’s inherently a partisan speech.

    @OzarkHillbilly: It’s hyperbolic because essentially nobody is against privacy rights or for banning contraception. There are obscure legal debates as to whether Griswold was correctly decided but essentially no policy interest in changing the outcome. It’s true that large numbers of Republicans oppose abortion but, then again, so do a significant number of Democrats. Ditto, in smaller numbers, same-sex marriage. But, if you’re making the argument that “Hey, this is just about MAGA, not normal Republicans,” then bringing up mainstream Republican issues is decidedly unhelpful.

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  12. KM says:

    But an attack on the opposition party and a call to vote for Democrats is not what Presidential addresses to the nation are supposed to be.

    Technically it was an attack on an ideology and it’s subsequent methodology that party has embraced. If the GOP had suddenly taken up mass cannibalism and started passing state laws that murder was ok if you ate the person afterward, you’d better believe there would be a Presidential Address about it. It would be weird if he didn’t and everyone was getting really worried about the maybe-zombies killing everyone around them. Just because it’s “political” doesn’t mean it’s not a threat to the safety and security of the nation POTUS must address; when p0litical entities take political actions based on notions inherently contradictory to democracy, the leader of that democracy has a duty to publicly speak about it.

    The simple truth is the GOP is going down a bad road and Biden’s using commonly acceptable tools of democracy to deal with it. He’s functioning with the rules, even if it displeases traditionalist interpretations of it. The GOP has been hardcore norm breaking for over a decade now so Biden’s speech shouldn’t make a dent….. except the mindset always seems to be it’s not OK for a Dem to step outside “the way we do things”. Well, that’s how we got here in the first place. We’re losing rights and creeping fascism is starting to have real, measurable effects on people’s lives. Stump speeches where he tells it like it is on primetime are the least of our problems. He’s not stumping for election reform or other policy changes to strengthen democracy. He’s not stumping for election reform or other policy changes to strengthen democracy.

    Biden was absolutely stumping for policy changes to strengthen democracy by pointing out the people enacting the harmful ones will do worse if you keep putting them in power and electing Dems would prevent or reverse that. Elect the arsonist to get more fire, elect the fireman to put it out. Sorry if that fact is “political” as well as true.

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  13. Mikey says:

    I’ve one thing to say to the Republicans who are angrily denouncing the President’s speech:

    You cobbled those shoes, you willingly put them on. It takes a lot of gall to start complaining when we point out how well they fit.

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  14. Jon says:

    @James Joyner: First law of holes: “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

    Related: “If you’re pissed about Biden’s speech, he was talking about you.”

    26
  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: It’s hyperbolic because essentially nobody is against privacy rights or for banning contraception.

    I have heard a number of state Republican politicians saying exactly that James. Sorry, I don’t recall the particulars, but they said it and I heard it.

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  16. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s hyperbolic because essentially nobody is against privacy rights or for banning contraception.

    Ditto, in smaller numbers, same-sex marriage.

    Ok, this is a lie. “Essentially nobody”, @James? Now who’s being hyperbolic?

    Before the backlash against Dobbs started manifesting in the ballot box, there were politicians who talking about banning both contraception and same-sex marriage. The whole point of Dobbs was to kick these rights to the state level, wherein the bans could be enacted. I’m not hunting down links but think-tnak groups that regularly give the GOP the language to put into law were drafting life-at-conception bans (necessitating contraception restrictions) and SSM bans. I believe it was Rubio or Cruz who also publicly talked about the bans as an inventible good that would come out of Dobbs.

    They stopped talking about it once Kansas showed that whoops, not something that would win them elections. Websites are currently being scrubbed of pro-life language in a lot of conservatives runs that might tip people off this idiot will continue stripping your rights if elected. They stopped talking about getting rid of SSM, banning IUDs or other “abortifacients” because they got the memo to keep their mouths shut till after the election. Nobody changed their minds and the plans will still be the same if they keep power. Just the other day, the GOP shut down an effort in Michigan to have an abortion rights referendum on the ballot over spacing typos. States are still quietly working on creating or increasing bans to the point people can’t get basic meds to treat common conditions since it “might” cause an abortion but they’ll leave contraception alone when they’ve screamed for decades it does cause abortions?

    The gag order was issued but the plan continues apace. They already told us contraception was next in the immediate aftermath of Dobbs till someone shushed them. Only a fool would think that just because it’s a deeply unpopular position that “essentially nobody” in power would try to enact it. It’s what they do.

    31
  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    No edit, meant to address this as well:

    @James Joyner: But, if you’re making the argument that “Hey, this is just about MAGA, not normal Republicans,” then bringing up mainstream Republican issues is decidedly unhelpful.

    They are one and the same now James. That’s why you left the party, remember?

    26
  18. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:

    The problem is that, when the “threat to democracy” is the opposition political party, it’s inherently a partisan speech.

    I hope you can reflect for a moment on why that is “the problem.” Is it the “threat” part or the “opposition political party” part or the “partisan” part of the equation that makes the problem. I think you know it’s not the “speech” part that is the problem.

    16
  19. CSK says:

    Trump reacted to the speech in predictable fashion, saying that Biden “must be insane, or suffering from late-stage dementia.”

    2
  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    The problem is that, when the “threat to democracy” is the opposition political party, it’s inherently a partisan speech.

    Yes. So? Is the President of the United States to remain mute in the face of an existential threat to our country?

    31
  21. Rick DeMent says:

    I am absolutely stunned at the double standard That Joe Biden increasingly has to put up with. Donald Trump has said things that are exponentially words in casual conversation let alone in his “addresses” either in his official capacity or in off-the-cuff remarks.

    Does the OP think that Biden would have done a speech like this if any other Republican president in the field in 2016 had been elected? Trump is the one who is thumbing his nose at norms, throwing around incendiary rhetoric, and outright telling his people to be violent. None of this is normal. I could see if Biden had given this speech after, say, the Bush Administration, even though there was a lot about the Bush’s Administration that was straight-up Criminal. At least the Bush administration gave lip service to bipartisanship.

    I guess Trump gets the advantage of saying so many horrible things so much that it just becomes part of the background noise of his existence. Very few on the Republican side have ever called out Trump for being divisive and even when they do it only seems to last as long as it takes for Trump to call them up and dress him down and get them back in line.

    I get that grifters are going to grift, and at this point the Republican party is putting on a full frontal assault on Biden and every American who believes in a democratic republic, calling him a Nazi calling him a fascist, calling him divisive, and doing so without any apparent introspection on what they themselves have been fermenting for the last 30 years. Better than half of the Republican Party straight-up believes in the absolute lie that the 2020 election was stolen. That somehow the Democrats are the ones delivering fascism in the United States simply because they want people to treat each other with the respect due a fellow US citizens or actually want to address problems that affect people and not just hand out tax cuts to the rich and their donors.

    I just want to suggest to James that posts like this are really not all that helpful. The Republican party is going to treat the Democrats as if they are the enemy and has been doing so since the 90s. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, when Joe Biden actually calls a spade a spade you get all squishy and worried about the norms of respectful discourse. Where have you been the last few years. Why does Biden need to pull his punches exactly? The GOP sure as heel doesn’t give a rat’s ass about respectful discourse.

    All the while all I can think to myself is, will anybody go to jail for any of this?

    It seems to me that the only thing that the Republicans are mad at right now is the Democrats are trying to flip the script. They’re more than happy to call Democrats pedophiles, drug abusers and accuse them of flooding the US with drugs on the back of asylum seekers (all without a shred of evidence), but oh my God, correctly call the Trump wing of the Republican party fascists and everybody heads for the fainting couch.

    To quote a stupid movie, “… they drew first blood not us”.

    PS: The only thing that gives me hope is that the current lamentations of the Republicans won’t land on independents this time around the way they did on Hillary Clinton in 2016. We have seen this show before.

    27
  22. @James Joyner:

    This was pure politics

    I understand what you mean, but I am of the view that almost everything a politician does is “pure politics.”

    And I think it is news for the sitting president to be willing to say what he said about elections and democracy.

    But you are certainly correct that this was not about a policy initiative.

    8
  23. drj says:

    “Is it too partisan to defend democracy in the face of a clear and present threat?”

    6
  24. @James Joyner:

    when the “threat to democracy” is the opposition political party, it’s inherently a partisan speech.

    Indeed.

    But that means the normal (such as they are) metrics for judging what is “political” 0r even “partisan” probably need to be thrown out the window.

    The news has been struggling with this (and continues to do so) since Trump came down that escalator.

    16
  25. @Rick DeMent:

    I am absolutely stunned at the double standard That Joe Biden increasingly has to put up with

    This is a good point and intersects with my point about “normal” news coverage. At some point all of the nonsense that flows from Trump and that his supporters excuse, ignore, or even endorse has to be addressed. Too many mainstream types have hoped that it would all go away at some point if they just keep behaving the old way despite the new circumstances.

    14
  26. Remember when the tactic was not to say Trump’s name in the hope that he would just fade away?

    6
  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    It’s a literary trope that I first noticed in LOTR. (May have appeared earlier.) Saying Sauron’s name was verboten. JK Rowling pulled the same trick with Voldemort. I use Trump’s name – refusing to do so actually elevates him, makes him seem more powerful and not less.

    7
  28. Modulo Myself says:

    All of these anti-Trump Republicans digging deep to give useful advice on how to stop Trump is really something. We know how your story ends.

    Oh yeah, and Marc Thiessen torture apologist gets upset about politics and norms in a speech. Give him a raise, I guess, for doing what he’s paid to do.

    4
  29. Stormy Dragon says:
  30. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I repeatedly called out Trump’s violations of norms, starting with his inaugural address. Trump can’t be the standard.

    I’m not really even calling out Biden here. I agree with 99% of what’s in the speech. My quibble is with the forum: this isn’t a Presidential address. It’s a stump speech for Democrats.

    3
  31. Jon says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s a stump speech for Democrats.

    It’s a speech for *democracy*. It only looks like a stump speech for Democrats because they are currently the only party that actually supports democracy in this country.

    32
  32. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    This is because out of the two major parties only one cares at all about democracy. If you politicize the right to have real elections, you’re going to make defending elections a stump speech.

    15
  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I always use his name too, but I refuse to give him the respect of capitalizing the “t”.

    3
  34. Neil Hudelson says:

    It’s hyperbolic because essentially nobody is against privacy rights or for banning contraception.

    Oh FFS.
    -Missouri Republicans try to ban IUDs and emergency contraceptives from Medicaid. They only fail because they tried to attach the amendment to a must-pass bill, causing consternation that the amendment could hold up passage.
    Idaho Lawmakers considering ban on IUDs and other contraceptions.
    -Louisiana general assembly considers law to ban IUDs and emergency contraceptives.
    -Bill guaranteeing right to birth control blocked in US Senate by…Republicans.
    -Ohio: bill introduced to ban IUDs along with abortion.
    -Blake Masters, the GOP candidate for Senate in AZ. The candidate that beat out all the other candidates. The candidate backed by the head of the GOP, Trump. The candidate getting support from the NRSC et al. announces he will only vote for SCOTUS nominees who would overturn cases that protect the right to contraceptives.
    -Marsha Blackburn denounces Griswold. the case that struck down restrictions to married couples’ access to birth control.
    -Mississippi Governot Tate Reeves refuses to rule out banning contraceptives.
    -Texas lawmakers seeking paths toward banning contraceptives.

    34
  35. Neil Hudelson says:

    Please spring me from moderation. I used many links, but it was necessary.

    2
  36. Matt Bernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Done. 🙂

    10
  37. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: You haven’t noticed what the forced-birthers have been up to, have you?

    There’s a hell of a lot of states that have been tip-toeing up to the “life starts at conception” line. Which means, according to their arguments, that almost all contraception methods are No-Go because one can’t guarantee there will be a nice hospitable womb lining to receive that all-important zygote and that would be a Bad Thing.

    Honestly, James–have you even read what the people on your side of the aisle are saying? We’ve got idiots who claim that doctors can “reimplant” zygotes from ectopic pregnancies (doctors: no, we can’t), that Plan B can be reversed (similarly, no), abortions lead to breast cancer (no they don’t) and similar stupidities that medical science has denied. (They’re also claiming that a sizeable percentage of zygotes get generated even using standard birth control and that they just don’t implant because of said lack of womb lining–also false. It’s that the eggs from the ovaries don’t ovulate.)

    14
  38. Chip Daniels says:

    Decrying a call to defend democracy as “partisan” is kind of a startling confession.

    18
  39. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “It’s hyperbolic because essentially nobody is against privacy rights or for banning contraception”

    Well, nobody but at least two members of the nine-member body that has the power to eliminate any rights they choose. My memory is that those two members — and another three or so who might go along with this — were all appointed by the party in which nobody is against those rights.

    16
  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Once again, Ozark beat me to it. One significant problem with conservative political philosophy is that its core principles include “there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.” And it doesn’t matter how many Democrats believe that, too; it’s still antithetical to what we’ve been trying to build here for 300-some years. And I no longer give a flying flingaburger about the fact that “the founders” were behind the curve on implementing this vision and were probably mostly a bunch of crackers anymore, either.

    Frankly, I disagree with MR (no surprise here 😉 ). I’m happy to let the locusts have equal time. Bring conservatism’s best spokesman for its ideals to primetime network television and let him explain why “no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love”–and no guaranteed right to vote, no security that your vote will be counted accurately, placement of the rights of capital over the rights of people, and all the rest of it represent the America people have been leaving their homes to live in for 3 fucking centuries now. I await his wisdom on that point.

    6
  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Biden bumps back
    At things that go bump in the night

    Whaddya know? The anti-democracy, pro-insurrection, authoritarian cult of personality that gleefully brands Democrats America-hating, child-trafficking, Marxist pedophiles can dish it out but can’t take it.

    Thursday night, President Joe Biden dished back in a primetime speech outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. I guess I’m in synch with Never Trumper Rick Wilson on this one.

    “Biden risks backlash” from people who routinely call him a communist groomer pedophile hitler is, to be sure, an unsurprising development.
    — Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) September 2, 2022

    Plenty more at the link.

    8
  42. Jay L Gischer says:

    If you watch “Darkest Hour”, you will note that Churchill’s first famous speech: “We will fight them in France, we will fight them on the sea, we will fight them on the beaches, … and we will never surrender”, was, in fact, a political speech. In addition to rallying the nation, it also changed his political fortunes, consolidating Parliament behind him.

    Because Chamberlain was still a powerful force in Parliament at the time, and wanted to sue Germany for peace. That speech was a partisan speech. “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” was also a partisan speech. Like Steven says, mostly anything they say has a political/partisan purpose.

    So arguing about whether it’s partisan is kind of pointless. Let’s review what high office holders have done recently:
    1. Planned and incited an insurrection intended to overturn the results of a legally conducted election.
    2. Continue to insist, despite having more than their day in court, that the election was “stolen”.
    3. Develop threats of violence intended to deter the normal workings of the justice system.
    4. Lied under oath to Congress in order to gain seats on the highest Court in the land.
    5. Proposed, in an official opinion, that the court roll back a bunch of long-established rights. Introduce legislation in many state governments to do that.

    And of course, they are going to try to frame any pushback as “partisan” or “shrill” or “insane”. Don’t pay any attention to those guys! They are talking garbage!

    That’s their only rhetorical defense. They can’t argue the point, because it’s all based on factual stuff.

    What I find much more interesting is whether there’s some followup. What other news is going to break, what other actions will Biden take, that will reinforce and amplify this message?

    Getting through this crisis safely will require politics, since it is, at root, a political problem. Getting people organized around a particular plan of action is what politics consists of, at the highest and best level.

    9
  43. gVOR08 says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Thank you for doing the homework on this. It’s a comment on the supposedly liberal MSM that a reasonable and well informed person like James can be unaware of the seriousness of GOPs on this. Meanwhile, all Democrats are tarred with Defund the Police, even pols like Biden who have explicitly opposed it. It’s another example of the soft bigotry of low expectations. Republicans are expected to support nonsense, so it’s not news when they do.

    12
  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It’s hyperbolic because essentially nobody is against privacy rights or for banning contraception. There are obscure legal debates as to whether Griswold was correctly decided but essentially no policy interest in changing the outcome.

    Good feint, Dr. Joyner! Pick the decision about which there have been no direct actions to change conditions…

    …yet.

    That will surely show that conservatives mean no harm and that what’s going on is simply dorm room debates over a half-rack.

    3
  45. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Yep, I say “Trump” too, for pretty much the exact same reasons. Another literary source is the name “Haster” from Lovecraftian things.

    1
  46. Modulo Myself says:

    Saw this story about a woman accusing Clarence Thomas of groping her in 1999. Pretty credible. Note that she made the accusation the night that the Access Hollywood tape was released. I have 100% recall of being that it’s for Trump, and I wasn’t alone. Everyone thought he was finished because he was bragging about sexually assaulting women and who would support that?

    It’s cringe now to ponder how terrible he is, but the damage he has done to this country is profound, and almost all of it has been done to the people who support him and who would riot for him or waive away the rioting. But there is absolutely zero damage to whatever ‘norms’ exist which have to be changed in order to call his party what it is. Nothing has been damaged. Trump has not ruined people who think he is a fascist or MAGA is fascist and all of the uglier-than-sin McArdles and Thiessens pretending that there’s some mutuality in this problem are wastes of existence.

    3
  47. Skookum says:

    @Rick DeMent: I agree with a double-standard. When I read Dr. Joyner’s analysis, I thought to myself, “I don’t remember Trump ever giving a pure policy speech.”

    5
  48. Jon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Another literary source is the name “Haster”

    The King in Yellow, please. I have no desire to get murdered (or worse) by a Great Old One.

    3
  49. Skookum says:

    Whatever one may think about the speech, I believe that it will a significant historical moment in our country’s history. It may not have been Lincolnesque, but it was blunt and clearly outlined the threat to democracy.

    President Biden informed those who oppose the MAGA (and Federalists) forces that they must vote, vote, vote and why.

    Also, I believe that his mention of his accomplishments during his presidency were listed for two reasons:

    1. To counter the trend toward populism, which is fueling MAGA, and
    2. Motivate voters to not give up–that their 2020 vote made a significant difference.

    6
  50. reid says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Bring conservatism’s best spokesman for its ideals to primetime network television and let him explain why “no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love”

    They’re not going to do that, of course. They’ll just rail about Biden’s divisiveness and how Democrats are evil marxists destroying America. Combine the propaganda with anti-voting efforts, and maybe they’ll win, and then they’ll just quietly enact their disturbing agenda and wait for the uproar to die down.

    3
  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    s@KM: When people use modifiers (like “essentially nobody”) in assertions of fact, that use can be reflective of the fact that the statement is materially untrue in some way the speaker doesn’t wish to admit (to him or herself even). My favorite example was from a parent who said “my son is essentially a good kid, but I can’t trust him to tell the truth.”

    2
  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    @James, this is an occasion where your predisposition to dispassionately examine something and give equal time to both arguments is partially blinding you to the danger we face.

    I don’t think this is fair. He is not engaging in both siderism here, he’s simply pointing out, correctly, how it will be perceived.

    4
  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I hope somebody saves these statements. Future Wikipedia contributors are going to need them for revisions to the entry on “projection.”

    1
  54. gVOR08 says:

    With recent polling showing threats to democracy as the top issue for more voters than anything else, it would be malpractice for Biden to not hit it hard before the midterms. A fair number of the 21% who rate it tops are Republicans, who may be confused about the true nature of the threat. (Some of whom seem to be in favor of threatening democracy.) Biden has a duty as prez to counter that threat, and I’m glad he’s clarifying just what the threat is. If that’s also partisan, so be it. The only practical difference labeling it political or policy makes is whether networks will carry it free, and I believe only CNN and MSNBC did. I wonder if ABC, NBC, and CBS are regretting taking a pass on free content that was apparently pretty entertaining.

    2
  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It’s not an existential threat to the country. It’s a handful of radicals who were different from the (mostly) ordinary tourists who simply got caught up in the excitement of 1/6 and who will disappear as if they were a bad dream once FG has shuffled off this mortal coil. It’s essentially nobody.

  56. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Trump apparently wrote them on TruthSocial, so they’re preserved at least for now.

  57. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Neil Hudelson: @KM: @grumpy realist: @gVOR08:

    Forgot to add Clarence Thomas’s Dobb’s Concurrence where he straight out says that contraception and marriage equality are in his sights.

    This conversation feels like a throwback to 2015 when everyone was debating whether we should take all of Trump and the GOP’s threat to liberty as “literal but not serious, or serious but not literal?”

    The answer then and now is “yes.”

    “Remember this because it will happen many times in your life. When people show you who they are the first time believe them.”
    -Maya Angelou

    I, for one, believe Republicans when they show me who they are.

    12
  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: He might fade away if we’d stop letting him suck all the air out of every room into which he walks by reporting every burp that issues forth from him. Isn’t it worth a try anyway?

    3
  59. Thomas Hilton says:

    Declaring that Trump and those who aid and abet him are a threat to the Republic is both hyperpartisan grandstanding unbefitting a prime-time presidential address and undeniably true.

    Um…if it’s true (and you say it’s undeniably so) then it’s also necessary. And if it’s necessary, then how can it be “hyperpartisan grandstanding”?

    The incoherence of your position here is encapsulated in that single sentence.

    9
  60. Blue Galangal says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Just curious, is voting to fund Social Security and Medicare every 5 years a MAGA position or a mainstream Republican position? I think the guy who proposed that is the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

    2
  61. Blue Galangal says:

    @reid: Exactly, the lawmaker who voted for the total abortion ban, then said he had a sad because a woman experiencing a miscarriage could be endangered by a septic uterus voted again for the total abortion ban the week after.

    7
  62. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: Is Dr. Joyner unaware, or in denial? I honestly don’t know which anymore (assuming I ever did).

    3
  63. JKB says:

    Biden sent permission to the less stable of the Make America Decline Democrats, MAD Democrats, to go after MAGA Republicans.

    It’s obvious that the speech was designed to hopefully provoke violence they can exploit like January 6. Hopefully, everyone will follow Road House rules, be nice, walk them to the door

  64. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s hyperbolic because essentially nobody is against privacy rights or for banning contraception.

    I think you are woefully underestimating the numbers in the anti-abortion community who are seeking to ban contraception , and I suspect it’s because of the language they use. They talk about banning “abortifacients” and most people think they are talking about Plan B and similar home abortion meds. While that’s true, they put anything that prevents a fertilized egg from gestating in that category. That includes the pill and IUD’s, among others. They don’t lead with this but if you do even a little digging you will find this effort is mainstream in the anti-abortion leadership. It’s one of the reasons they are so big on the “life begins at conception” nonsense. With the pill, the fertilized egg is sloughed off within a few days of fertilization. With an IUD it happens almost right away, because it never adheres to the wall at all.

    The anti-abortion / anti-contraception strategy is very straightforward: 1) Get politicians to ban abortifacients. 2) Get laws on the books mandating that life begins at conception. 3) Get Republican judges to connect the two dots and conclude that the birth control pill, IUDs and all other such products are abortifacients and therefore banned. Like I said, they don’t lead with this but it is not hard to find.

    8
  65. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: I think you (and pretty much everyone else focused on the politics of the speech) seem to have completely missed what is both new and presidential-address worthy about it: He put potentially traitorous Republican officials involved in elections that he will bring the full power of the US Government down on them. And he told all such officials, Dem or Repub, that he has their back if they are doing the right thing, hopefully stiffening their spines.

    Everyone has focused so much on him calling out the Republicans, or the political stuff at the end, that they seem to have completely missed his core message: we have an election coming up and if you f*ck with that the Feds will come for you. But it is clear and he led with it. Re-read it and you’ll see.

    6
  66. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    That’s called ‘projection.’ See, we are not the ones who formed an armed mob threatening to murder the Vice President and Speaker of the House in an attempt to overthrow the elected government.

    That’s you.

    Not us: you.

    18
  67. David S. says:

    James, please share the exact sentence where he makes a call to vote for Democrats.

    6
  68. DK says:

    Ha. Torture-apologist Marc Thiessen clutching pearls about norms and disgraces is as unpersuasive as the “F*** your feelings snowflake, his mean tweets tell it like it is!!11!!” crowd howling about divisiveness.

    Biden’s oath is to the defense of the US Constitution, not to nonpartisanship and kumbaya.

    The constitution is threatened by the semi-fascism of the MAGA cult that worships Donald Trump — a patholgical lying pervert who launched his toxic political career with racist birther lies, sexualized his then-underage daughter, paid $200k to the China Communist Party while evading US taxes, mocked a disabled reporter, praised those who marched alongside tiki torch Nazis in defense of monuments to pro-slavery Confederate traitors, wrote love letters to communist North Korea, has repeatedly sold out the US and its allies to Putin, caused mass death and record unemployment with his coronavirus lies, tweeted a White Power video on 28 June 2020, incited the deadly Jan 6 QAnon #MAGATerrorist attack to destroy democracy based on sore loser election lies, and stole top secret classified documents.

    Dark Brandon should give a primetime, partisan, political, pro-abortion, pro-Democrat stump speech every single day if that’s what it takes to defend the constitution, our republic, and Western democracy from violent, white supremacist MAGA Republicans and their dangerous, vicious, narcissistic scumbag cult leader Trump.

    Breaking norms in a presidential address (O! the horror! Pass the smelling salts!) is the *the least* he should do.

    Never imagined saying it back when I was a McCain voter, but give em hell Joe Biden.

    18
  69. DK says:

    @David S.:

    James, please share the exact sentence where he makes a call to vote for Democrats.

    If he didn’t, he should have. #VoteBlue #RedTrickle2022

    3
  70. Andy says:

    Like so much these days, reaction to this speech predictably falls along the lines of “where you stand is where you sit.”

    I’m with the “meh” crowd. I thought it was mostly irrelevant, in that its greatest effect will be to confirm everyone’s existing biases for a news cycle or two and then be largely forgotten.

  71. Mu Yixiao says:

    @David S.:

    There was a scene in The West Wing where the group was trying to write up promotional material that didn’t violate election laws regarding soft money.

    “Let’s just talk about education. Is there anyone who isn’t going to think of Bartlett as the Education President?”

    You don’t have to explicitly say “Vote Democrat” in order to say “Vote Democrat”.

  72. DK says:

    @JKB:

    Biden sent permission to the less stable of the Make America Decline Democrats, MAD Democrats, to go after MAGA Republicans.

    It’s obvious that the speech was designed to hopefully provoke violence they can exploit like January 6.

    Except the violent January 6 terror attack was provoked by Drama Queen Donnie’s sore loser election lies that exploited the stupidity and entitlement of the mentally unstable MAGA cult. Similar to how Trump, Sen. Graham, Fox News grifters and other radical right extremists are now trying to provoke violence to prevent accountability for Tangerine Hitler’s theft and mishandling of top secret documents.

    And speaking of decline, does super-Republican Mississippi have drinkable water yet? Or are they still struggling due to incompetent conservative governance and climate change denial?

    13
  73. Jay L Gischer says:

    If this gets under Rich Lowry’s skin and makes him angry for weeks – good. If this bothers Lindsay Graham – they guy who said, “If we nominate Trump, the Republican Party will be destroyed” – for the next month – great!

    That irritation, that anger, that emotion is absolutely necessary to change. I’m citing people who really, really should know better. But they haven’t jumped yet. They have justified in their minds their current courses. And a direct confrontation like this will sting and burn. As it should.

    I’m not saying all or any particular one will change. That’s hard to predict. What I am saying is that the kind of things they are feeling right now are absolutely necessary precursors to changing one’s course.

    7
  74. Gustopher says:

    I think Biden needed to give specifics — name a few of the fascists, and what they have said, and what they have done. Just a few examples so it doesn’t seem like hyperbole.

    1
  75. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    To laugh or cry: My father is texting me this morning about how upset he is that “Comrade Biden” called him a traitor. But he’d be ok as long as he was allowed to vote for the candidates he wanted to and they were “allowed” to be seated. I pointed out that only one side forced their way into Congress trying to decide which votes counted. He responded it was only a matter of time because the best way to predict liberal behavior was to listen to what they “accuse” conservatives of doing. But he’s ready for the “war” we are going to start.

    “Accuse”?!?! How do we survive a world where millions like my father honestly believes that 1/6 was NOT nutcases threatening to overturn a vote they didn’t like and that WE are doing the projecting and inciting violence?

    I want to laugh, but he’s still my father…I wish Trump would just die. Not sure the fever would break then, but it has no chance of cooling down until he does.

    PS-I doubt very much my father (or JKB, or the rest of them) actually bothered to LISTEN to Biden’s speech. As usual they get their opinions from the sick media they consume.

    Free speech is critical to a functioning democracy/republic. Propaganda is pure poison to a democracy/republic. Propaganda is winning. I don’t know how to fix it.

    6
  76. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I want to 2nd @gVOR08: Neil. My googlefu isn’t all that good and I was just feeling a little too lazy to do the work of fighting thru it this AM. Thanx much.

    3
  77. OzarkHillbilly says:
  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: “It’s dead, Jim. Let it go.”

    1
  79. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB: Fuck off. Your tribe has been bringing AR-15s and AK-47s to “protests” for years now. Just daring lefties to do the same. Well guess what, you got your wish. The only thing missing was the blood you so lust for. Don’t worry, it will flow eventually and then you can blame the lefties for having the nerve to stand up to the whacko gun nuts.

    11
  80. Kathy says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    Only Democrats have agency.

    As to the untimely demise of Benito (it would have been timelier decades ago), I see two likely scenarios and one unlikely.

    1) The post-Stalin. The boys at the top quietly wrestle each other for power, largely behind the scenes, until one emerges victorious and hegemonic over the GQP.

    2) The post-Alexander (not equating el Cheeto with Mr. The Great, just the outcome). The boys at the top fight each other openly and violently, until the victors each get a much diminished fiefdom to call their own. Someone claims the orange remains as a relic to draw tourist to his new capital.

    The less likely is the GQP remains a loyal servant of the donor class and champion of voter suppression , but goes back to a less strident tone, kind of like in the days of Bush the younger but they’re more open about it. I think this is less likely, because knowing wielding power is possible, people tend to want to do it. Call this model the post-Sulla.

    5
  81. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @James Joyner: Granted, but like it or not— POTUS is simultaneously the Head of State, Commander-in-Chief, AND Head of their Political Party.

    I would love for POTUS to shed the third role but he’s actually doing his Job.

    More fundamentally, I think post like yours from “both sides” come from a sincere place but are blind to the inevitable: Confrontation is unavoidable. The only variable is the degree of confrontation… but it’s clear to me (based on watching the same thing happen overseas) that we are beyond words and debate.

    I suppose this will be a lesson to future generations of Americans that to allow one voice to maliciously demean another group of Americans for decades, uncontested, is the primary threat to democracy—-but we are we’re we are.

    Frankly, if the garbage these people are fed IS true..they have no choice but win at any cost. They don’t want unity or peace with communist, pedophile, perverts, who want to enslave Americans under a yoke of Big Government, poverty, and debt. They are currently in the phase where the ballot box isn’t working to eliminate the threat to Americans. We all know what the next step is.

    10
  82. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: How bout splitting the difference–still subservient to the donor class AND keep the strident tone. After all, the Chinese figured out that you can be Capitalistic AND authoritarian at the same time; why not this, too?

    2
  83. Lounsbury says:

    It is rare when I find myself in broad agreement with the Lefty commentariat, but really… the pearl-clutching over appropriateness of Mr Biden’s speech is worthy of a Weimar conservative.

    (and the bit about nobody challenging contraception is truly strange – not only unfactual but political idiocy, if the centre is to build something, Biden and the centrists need to take their knives and gut the Trumpist, and that’s one of the knives, a very good and genuinely founded knife).

    @DK:

    Torture-apologist Marc Thiessen clutching pearls about norms and disgraces is as unpersuasive

    I have the unfortunate circumstances to have once known Thiessen personally. He is a smarmy despicable racist in person (or was, but no chance he has changed). Vile smary cunt would merit being hit by a bus.

    10
  84. Matt says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s hyperbolic because essentially nobody is against privacy rights or for banning contraception.

    Holy fucking delusions batman. People on the supreme court itself are talking about the need to re-examine the legality of contraceptives and you’re like “oh no one is for banning contraceptives. You know except the people who the GOP base have elected and the judges they appointed..

    Have you not been paying attention to the anti-choice crowd? Conflating contraceptives and abortion has been a standard part of the anti-choice movement for a long time now. I can link you to dozens of facebook posts by women AND men in my friend’s list from my hometown supporting the banning of contraceptives and they ARE the GOP base. Keep in mind I’ve been unfriended or not even friended by the hardcore GOPers on facebook already..

    The right (especially religious right) still wants to ban people from engaging in consensual activities in the privacy of their home. Revoking gay marriage is part of that movement to revoke your rights to privacy. Then there’s the law and order GOP who always yell “If you’re doing nothing wrong you have nothing to hide” when they push for further erosion of the fourth amendment and atrocious concepts like the original patriot act. If I want to smoke a plant in the privacy of my home it really shouldn’t be anyone’s concern but the way the GOP talks you’d think I was destroying the country and thus shouldn’t be allowed that privacy.

    Come on James you’re being absolutely ridiculous here..

    11
  85. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Thing is Benito is incapable of changing his tone, no matter how it hurts him, how many people advise him to tone it down, etc. others are more susceptible to suggestions from donors, and would have trouble keeping it up.

    1
  86. Kari Q says:

    Thanks to those who have pointed out that yes, contraceptives are indeed threatened. This should surprise no one. Banning contraceptives is the natural outcome of MAGA’s belief in the Great Replacement theory. To counter the influx of immigrants, white women need to have more babies so contraceptives must be banned. I haven’t seen the linked idea that non-whites should be forced to use contraceptives or have abortions, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it’s on some pro-fascist sites.

    (The link contains a brief description of Nazi Germany’s attitude to abortion and contraceptives, and has anti-semitic image)

    1
  87. Kathy says:

    @Kari Q:

    If they force something on groups they don’t like, it will be surgical sterilization.

  88. Kari Q says:

    @Kathy:

    You are right, of course.

  89. mattbernius says:

    While it wasn’t a primetime national address, folks have found video of Trump, on the the campaign trail, with Marines flanking in the background, accusing Democrats of being fascists (no semi).

    But if chose he will always be graded on a curve, especially by anti-anti-Trumpers.

    https://crooksandliars.com/2022/09/two-years-ago-trump-called-democratic

    Ironically, what he said was not that different:

    Speaking to a crowd of several hundred supporters outside an aircraft hangar, Trump alleged that a Biden victory would “replace American freedom with left-wing fascism.”

    “Fascists. They are fascists,” Trump continued, though fascism is a form of far-right nationalism. “Some of them, not all of them, but some of them. But they’re getting closer and closer.”

    1
  90. Ken_L says:

    None of the networks broadcast the speech live, so I fail to see what Thiessen is on about. Trump gave countless rally speeches in “prime time”, but I wasn’t aware they were considered an “institution”. And of course they were far more inflammatory than anything this president said. Did Thiessen condemn Trump for saying things like “We have blood, death and suffering on a scale once unthinkable because of the Democrat Party’s effort to destroy and dismantle law enforcement all throughout America”? Of course not.

    Biden called out the real threat to representative democracy posed by Trump Republicans. Their response was typical: play the victim. No doubt many in the media will be pleased to stroke their chins and observe that both sides deserve criticism for stoking divisiveness in the country.

    3
  91. How is it a threat to the Republic when legal means are used to change the laws of the Republic?
    I was vehemently and bitterly opposed to the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, I thought they were stupid, evil, and crazy laws. But they were done more or less according to Constitutional procedures, though unethical shenanigans were involved. Eventually enough people came back around to my way of thinking and the idiocy was repealed, albeit after the damage was done. But a valuable lesson was learned, or, should have been learned. I wish it was learned.
    In any case, it’s actually more a threat to the Republic to oppose legal processes of the Republic. There are legal ways to change the laws. If you make it illegal to change the laws, you are making peaceful change impossible, and that means you are making vi0l3nt change inevitable. But perhaps that what you guys want?

    1
  92. @Ken_L:
    You sound like a Globalist who only pretends to believe in “democracy.”

    You believe in “Your Democracy,” but you will not allow anyone else’s “Democracy.”

  93. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Solbakken:
    In Germany the Nuremburg Laws were properly passed and led to the murder of six million Jews.

    There is right and wrong, good and evil. ‘Process’ does not, cannot, justify evil.

    Also, the Volstead Act was passed in 1919, so unless you are well over 100 years old, maybe clarify that your opposition to the Volstead Act is retrospective?

    And finally, ‘globalist’ is Nazi for Jew. Might want to re-think that word. I mean, you’re not a Nazi, right?

    5
  94. Liberal Capitalist says:

    There has been quite a kerfuffle. It’s understandable. Here at the Southern Estate my neighbor is still flying his Trump flag.

    If we are to take POTUS Biden at his word, then he was calling out about 30% of the GOP as the MAGA Republicans. (About 15% of the US electorate, by my guess).

    The outrage is understandable from that 30%, as they see themselves as the true Americans and they firmly believe that it’s the other 85% of the electorate that have lost their way… but of course, the criticism of the MAGA also strike with the same broad brush those 50% of Republican voters that may have disliked the MAGA but went along because they have always voted Republican. It’s what they do. It’s tribal.

    And there is nothing wrong at all with conservative thought. Clearly, it tempers liberal thought and allows for debate and consensus as democracy grinds forward.

    And the 20% of the GOP that chose not to go along? They were called “Never-Tumper’s” (or when they spoke out against the MAGA were IMMEDIATELY labeled “RINO”). They hold fast to the concepts of conservative ideology. (ex: former Atty General Bill Barr being thrown into the RINO pile today)

    MAGA is not interested in conservative ideology: They are interested in a strong leader that will fight, win and persecute those who do not bend to their world view.

    But the challenge for the traditional GOP conservative is: At first, the road was wide. Then as things became more evident, the road became a trail, then a narrow path, that now has led to a plank dangling over the water. And they are at the far end of that plank looking into the water.

    Biden has welcomed that 50% back to democracy.

    But is it too late for the lemmings to stop? Or if not lemmings, are the MAGA pushing so fast, so hard and so loud that the GOP has no choice?

    We see in James that struggle. He is part of that loyal 50% that has now stepped away from the MAGA but is still torn in his loyalty for country and his passion for his ideological position. Again, I completely understand.

    But to steal from a meme about a honey badger: MAGA don’t care.

    The GOP challenge: 20% of reasonable people trying to stop a rush of 80%… well, if you have ever been in a riot, you know that is not going to happen.

    I look forward to seeing what takes place when formal inditement occurs due to the documents found at MAL. And again, what occurs at the end of that case.

    Then we will see the soul of our nation.