Friday, September 2, 2022

Time to Take the Offensive v. the Offensive

Do I think Donald Trump and too many of his supporters, particularly elected officials pushing the belief that the 2020 election was illegitimate and that Trump won, are a threat to democracy? Damn right I do.

President Biden on Friday might have walked back some of his right-on assessment delivered Thursday night in a speech outlining the threat to our form of government by hordes of Republicans, some of whom are candidates for election in November. But anyone who has witnessed how Trump mangles allegiance to our laws, norms and protocols, and how GOP officials have sought to overturn 2020 and reduce opportunities for minorities to vote and otherwise live life to the fullest, cannot plausibly argue with his original assessment.

If Biden and his advisors are guilty of any political faux pas it is in waiting too long to take the offensive against Trumpism’s offensive behavior. Speeches are fine for describing the broad outline of the danger before us. But for massive impact I favor repeated airing of the comments by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denouncing Trump for inciting the riotous insurrection in the Capitol January 6, 2021. 

McCarthy, especially, has shamefully backtracked on his of-the-moment reaction to the assault. He clearly was honestly reflecting on the danger he and his colleagues were in as their workplace was invaded by Trump’s orcs. His all-consuming lust for power to become speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency, has led him to kneel at Trump’s feet to kiss his ring and forget reality. 

Biden’s critical warning that extremist Republicans are a threat to our democratic republic is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” characterization of Trumpsters in 2016. You know what? She was right!

“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, refuse to accept the results of a free election,” Biden intoned.

To be a successful senator, and Biden claims to have been one, you have to be a good vote counter among your peers. In the days of bipartisanship, that meant figuring out how many senators from the opposition party would support your bill. Those days are long gone, though Biden clings to the past far too often.

Republicans attacked Biden’s speech for defaming the 74 million who voted for Trump. Yes, Biden is correct in now acknowledging they are not all out to burn down the system. 

But let’s be clear: Trump’s 74 million is 9 percent less than the 81 million voters—Democrats, Independents and Republicans—who chose Biden. Biden must play up to and energize those voters and not worry about offending the deplorables. 

Don’t expect many Trumpian Republicans except their political elite—in other words, those talking heads who want to be asked to pontificate on Fox News and other conservative media—to have viewed, much less be positively influenced, by the president’s speech on the fragility of our form of government.

It is time for Biden to abandon his hope to be a unifier. One doesn’t enter a battle hoping for a draw. 

For the sake of our country, during the next 68 days Biden must sharpen his laser to focus on challenging the “coalition of the democratic” (small “d”) to vote November 8 for candidates who respect the rule of law, personal choice in lifestyle and reproduction, and adherence to the Constitution.