Biden Strikes Back
Terry H. Schwadron
Jan. 7, 2022
It took a year, but Joe Biden finally showed up.
In an unusually compelling speech at the Capitol, site of a MAGA riot to dump democracy a year ago, Biden finally faced down Donald Trump, without using his name, over the continued Big Steal lies and for his role in the plot to unleash the fatal riot.
Naturally, it took only a few minutes for Republican leaders, including Trump, to deride the speech, to insist that Biden was seeking to making political hay over a tragedy, and to divert from a failing presidency.
Biden forcefully denounced Trump for promoting lies and tearing down democracy because he could not stand the fact that he lost a free and fair election, accusing his predecessor and his allies of holding “a dagger at the throat of America.”
It was an attack the Biden has held back from making for a year, but as Republicans continue to press alternative justifications and denials that Jan. 6 even happened, Biden lambasted Trump for carrying on an “undemocratic” and “un-American” campaign against the legitimacy of the election system in the manner of autocrats and dictators.
Still, Biden said he was defending our system of government from “a dagger at its throat,” not having a campaign debate.
Even yesterday, in answer to Biden, Trump accepted no responsibility for the riot, despite what we see as emerging evidence of his work even from within the White House to assembly and organize the mob, send it to the Capitol and to sit back in the White House to watch it all on television without intervening to stop it, even once turned violent.
While I am not normally swayed by a speech, I found Biden’s a rare, succinct, well-delivered and appropriate call for action for preservation of voting rights and rejection of the “web of lies” about the 2020 election. Biden is not an orator but he or his speechwriter managed to put together one that will be remembered for going well beyond what ceremony might have asked of him.
The conflicts over Jan. 6 and the serious political divide over whether the riots were a protest of election fraud, or an insurrection attempt played out in rival day-long events in Washington and beyond. There were rallies in at least 25 cities.
Groups denouncing the insurrection attempt gathered on the Mall, using the event to press for passage of federal voting rights protections. An opposing group gathered outside the Washington jail to advocate for those charged for entering the Capitol and doing damage.
The cable networks and news outlets were humming with replays and explanations, divergent poll results, and even putting unusual people at odds. On Fox, Tucker Carlson called out Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex, for even acknowledging that violence had occurred at the Capitol, insisting, “It was not a violent terrorist attack.”
Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who attended a funeral with several Republican senators, simply absented themselves. By contrast, Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a private moment on the House floor for lawmakers, staff, institutional workers, police, and reporters to reflect on the day.
Vice President Kamala Harris’ remarks were strong, but more focused on the voting rights debate as an antidote to the rioting a year ago.
And, the House special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is moving towards prime-time public hearings and Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland felt compelled to remind all that a Justice Department task force is moving past 700 arrests into more serious phases of seeking accountability, hinting that Team Trump could face trouble ahead.
Jan. 6 remains a scar to the nation.
That it is being used and abused for continuing political purposes is off-putting, but seems to be necessary, since it was politics and elections that brought about the riot in the first place.
What has never been clear to me is why Team Trump members who feel so passionately that they were wronged by a rigged election would spend their time weaseling out of subpoenas and calls to testify and to continually deny that there was a problem. It’s what Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green and Rep. Matt Gaetz were doing yesterday — though they are seen as fringe extremists by most of their own party.
If you’re going to do the crime, in this case undertake an overthrow of the elected government, you ought to want to make your case. As always, if you shoot at a giant target and miss, you should expect that there will be payback, particularly if you went out of your way to undercut the Constitution to do so.
Instead, a year after the Jan. 6 disaster, Donald Trump thinks he should be elected president again, and Republican state legislatures are throwing every non-democratic punch they can at the system to make it so.
Biden’s message could not have been more clear. It is up to us.