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Biden needs to give that 1/6 speech every day
And so does every Democrat. January 6th is kryptonite to Republicans. Use it.
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President Biden’s speech on January 6th was enormously powerful, but not so much because it targeted and pulverized Donald Trump, a former president who’s a dangerous force in American society — which was surely energizing for a lot of us to see.
No, most of its impact actually was due to the fact that it homed in on January 6th and the embrace of insurrectionists by the Republican Party, which is of course led by Trump, to whom the party is completely obedient.
January 6th and any mention of it is kryptonite to GOP leaders, who, after Democrats in Congress planned on commemorating the day, fled town like roaches scampering away after a light was turned on.
Republicans believe they have no choice but to embrace Trump, whose hold on the base is a form of “magic,” as Senator Lindsey Graham put it last year, but they are aware they have to steer very clear of January 6th, which well over 70% of Americans see as an attack on democracy in every poll. It’s desperate and futile to separate Trump and January 6th, of course.
And that’s why Biden and every Democrat must give this speech every single day if we’re to expose the GOP’s danger heading into the 2022 mid-terms.
Yes, Trump is at the center of January 6th and so it’s inevitable that he’s in the mix in any discussion about it. But the focus needs to be squarely on the GOP, excusing an attack on the Capitol while coddling insurrectionists and those within its own ranks who are promoting the same political violence.
The GOP’s fear was palpable yesterday, as the aforementioned Graham railed against Biden, absurdly accusing him of using January 6th for political purposes — as if the attack itself wasn’t a political act of violence.
Graham was stunned and scared because he reportedly was among those who talked Trump out of giving a press conference on the anniversary, telling him he wouldn’t get the kind of press coverage he was seeking. But it’s clear GOP leaders had more important reasons to stop that presser: they needed to stop him from feeding fuel into the January 6th anniversary story as they ran far away from it.
Biden’s speech in fact forced them to engage, even as they attacked him and Democrats from afar, having left the Capitol — beyond Liz Cheney, not one sitting Republican House member was present for the House commemoration — becoming all defensive about the marking of the anniversary.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who just a year ago blamed Trump for everything that happened, now, too, claimed Democrats were trying to politicize it. Senator Steve Daines of Montana said, “I think it’s disappointing that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have chosen to politicize that day and further divide our country.” The flip-flopping underscored the GOP’s rightful paranoia. This supercut below says it all.
It was appalling — and certainly noticed by the American public — that Republicans were MIA as political leaders gathered to honor law enforcement officers who died as a result of January 6th, and discussed the mob threatening to kill the vice president and other leaders as it ransacked and looted the Capitol. The public needs to be reminded of it constantly, which will keep the GOP on the defensive every single minute of the day.
The inability of the GOP to deal with January 6th was most evident in the meltdown that Senator Ted Cruz had, having tried to appeal to the majority opinion about 1/6 by calling it a “violent terrorist attack” on Wednesday, only to be completely excoriated by Tucker Carlson, who humiliated Cruz on his Fox News show on Thursday. Cruz was forced to say his wording was “sloppy,” but he was still called a “liar’ by Carlson, as Cruz groveled and pleaded for forgiveness, calling his comment a “mistake.”
As The Washington Post notes, Biden made a sharp turn in going full throttle against Trump, having spent much of the year trying to ignore him, realizing that any discussion of January 6th on the anniversary had to put Trump at the center of it. The Post intimated that this departure might only be a one-off. But that would be a mistake if it means that Biden won’t be discussing January 6th and the danger of the GOP over and over again.
Sure, the evisceration of Trump doesn’t have to happen each time, and does risk giving Trump more to work with as he energizes his cultish base. But the focus on the overturning of democracy, and the GOP’s complicity, is critical if Democrats are win in ‘22. Democrats must get bills passed and must deliver for the American people. The economy and the Covid-19 pandemic will surely be major issues, and Democrats must do everything to show they’re leading on those issues even as the pandemic takes twists and turns.
But the most powerful thing Democrats can do right now is show, every day, how close we are to an authoritarian fascist state, with the GOP hellbent on using any means, including excusing violence, to attain its ends. And the most clearcut example is the GOP’s whitewashing January 6th and running away from any discussion of it.
Rather than being drawn by Republicans into idiotic, bogus discussions about critical race theory — which is not even taught in schools, but is a new political tool of the GOP — Democrats have to draw Republicans into discussions about the very real threat of another insurrection and a coup in which the military splits allegiance, as three former military generals recently warned. Democrat have to resist GOP diversions and distractions and bring everything back to January 6th, the topic that causes the GOP to melt down.
The GOP can’t be allowed to bow to Trump without being exposed in the eyes of the American people as excusing an attack on the Capitol and promoting further attacks on democracy. If Democrats continue to hammer home the truth and sound the alarm — as the president and Vice President Harris did yesterday — forcing the GOP to run for cover, they will retain the House and Senate.
Biden laid out a path yesterday. Now he and all Democrats must follow it every day.
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