Biden on Attack

Capital-Star photo by Patrick Abdalla

There’s President Biden in all his elderly glory. One of the quickly forgotten facts of the 2020 election is that President Biden and the Democrats did very little public campaigning. Because of the pandemic ethics of preventing the dissemination of the Covid. Joe Biden and Democratic candidates for Senate, the House, U.S. Senate seats, and state governorships did not hold rallies on a regular basis, do all the various kinds of meet and greets, or engage in traditional door knocking campaigns. Sure, the Democratic message got through in television, radio, and social media but I don’t think Dems were able to break through the constant noise made by Trump and focus the conversation on their agenda rather than the latest Trump outrage.

And I believe it cost Biden a point or two in the overall outcome.

President Biden didn’t get out that much during the first 15 months of his presidency either. However, that’s changed as the president has been crowing about the passing of gun control legislation, the competitiveness act and the Inflation Reduction Act as well as student loan forgiveness. President Biden has also made a mark in his attacks on Republicans. Going beyond the “No Republican voted for this” mantra of the 2021 American Recovery Act and Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act, President Biden has just this week denounced MAGA Republicans as “semi-fascist” and proclaimed during rallies in Maryland and Pennsylvania that Republicans can not be “pro-police” and “pro-Jan 6” at the same time.

Not only are the attacks true, they’re effective.

President Biden has struggled to get the media to focus on his message on issues like inflation but his calling MAGA Republicans “semi-fascists” at a Maryland gathering was widely covered by the mainstream media (by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, CBS, ABC, New York Times) and widely discussed in social media forums. Even with all the focus on the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, the war in Ukraine, and mid-term elections, “semi-fascist” was THE topic over the weekend. When I was teaching government at Morehead State in KY, I always stressed presidents were the “leading celebrity” in the United States among other things. Because of the super-charged Trump drama of the last seven years, President Biden has long had trouble commanding the bully pulpit, but this weekend he was the center of attention in a way that had not been the case since early 2021.

Republican office holders and the conservative media apparatus have been free to engage engage in non-stop attacks on the Biden administration and Democrats. However, Fox News personalities have been forced to defend Republican office-holders and voters against aspersions of fascism. Nikolas Lanum of Fox News tried to blunt the impact by relating President Biden’s semi-fascist remark to previous “monikers” directed at Republicans and conservatives by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. For Molly Hemingway of the Federalist, was “more hateful than the worst thing that Donald Trump ever said.” Building on that theme, Sean Duffy argued on a Fox Business show that Biden’s remarks were worst than anything Trump said because they went after Republicans as a group rather than just condemning them as individuals. The point isn’t so much about the weakness of conservative responses but the fact that Biden’s comments on GOP semi-fascism obligated conservative media to defend MAGA Republicans at all.

Characterizing MAGA conservatives as semi-Fascists also paves the way for President Biden to adapt harsh rhetoric on GOP claims to support the police while also continuing to offer aid and comfort to the Jan. 6 Insurrectionists.

So let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress: Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened on the 6th. Don’t tell me. Can’t do it.  

I remember Trump once claiming that “Make America Great Again” is the greatest marketing campaign in history. What President Biden has accomplished with associating MAGA with “semi-fascism” is call into question the value of the brand.

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