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Joe Biden’s divide & clunker approach

The speech President Biden gave on Thursday was one he reportedly wanted to give for weeks, but White House staff resisted. Aides didn’t think it was the right speech or the right time, which in plain English means they didn’t like it. 

For once, give them credit. Now that we see what garbage the Big Guy had on his mind, they were right to resist. 

Unfortunately, he pulled rank and they had to let Biden be Biden. The result was bad for Democrats and terrible for the nation. 

To call it a hateful speech doesn’t do justice to its awfulness. The promise of an address on the soul of our nation and the setting of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall suggested it would be an appeal to our better angels. 

Instead, with lurid red lighting and two Marines standing at attention to serve as props, Biden delivered a 24-minute screed that was disjointed, rancidly partisan and, at heart, a declaration of war against those Americans who do not support him. 

It’s worth noting that even those who ostensibly support him aren’t embracing his solution. Few if any Democrats running in swing districts or states have endorsed the president’s war on Republicans. 

In tone and substance, the speech was the polar opposite of Biden’s inaugural address just 20 months ago. Then he pledged to bring the country together, using “unity” or similar words 15 times, as in this sequence: “My whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, and uniting our nation.” 

This time, there was talk only of defeating the other side because their politics, on everything from abortion to taxes to immigration, makes them un-American. He “otherized” MAGA and MAGA Republicans 13 times as a dangerous, subverting force. 

Dodging & deflecting 

Joe Biden
Biden came for MAGA supporters, saying that they “thrive on chaos.”
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

How did Biden fall so far so fast? And what led him to insist on such a dreadful spectacle? 

The short answer is desperation. Biden’s presidency is a nonstop disaster, with even its legislative successes becoming drivers of the highest inflation in 40 years. His failures, from Afghanistan to rising crime to the open southern border, have weakened America’s global standing and created domestic debacles. 

Unwilling to change course, Biden decided to cast the blame on unhappy voters and demonize them. 

And so the tens of millions of Americans Barack Obama derided as bitter clingers and Hillary Clinton called deplorables are now labeled extremists and enemies of democracy. Biden didn’t use the word “traitors,” but that was the thrust of his attack. 

“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,” he said at one point. 

Later came this one: “MAGA Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and despair. They spread fear and lies. Lies told for profit and power.” 

Then this one: “The MAGA Republicans believe that for them to succeed, everyone else has to fail.” 

Days earlier, Biden said supporting Trump is akin to supporting “semi-fascism.” 

Quite a week for President Unity. The speech was so raw that even some friendly media got off the bus. Reporters and commentators at CBS, CNN and others called it nakedly partisan and cited the use of the Marines and the Marine band as inappropriate. 

Jill and Joe Biden wave to spectators as they walk onstage in Pennsylvania on September 1.
Jill and Joe Biden wave to spectators as they walk onstage in Philadelphia on Sept. 1.
Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto/

The president, stung by the unexpected criticism, actually tried on the morning after to deny the essence of what he had said. 

On Friday, a reporter asked him if he considers “all Trump supporters to be a threat to this country.” It was a fair question. 

Said Biden: “Come on, look, guys, you keep trying to make that case. I don’t consider any Trump supporter to be a threat to the country.” 

So, never mind? 

Not quite. The fact is, Biden is facing a heap of trouble in the midterms and the speech reflects both his panic and his strategy. 

The panic is based on the likelihood that, because of the president’s radical policy failures, Republicans will take control of one and perhaps both chambers of Congress in the midterms. Any president would have his agenda stymied at that point, but Biden also has another reason to fear such an outcome. 

The GOP reckoning 

Leading GOP members in both houses have pledged to investigate him over the compelling evidence he participated in and benefitted from son Hunter Biden’s foreign businesses. Up to now, the president has been protected by his party’s majority and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who seems to have thrown a wet blanket on the long-running FBI probe of Hunter’s finances. 

President Biden and Hunter Biden depart from Holy Spirit Catholic Church
President Biden and son Hunter Biden depart from Holy Spirit Catholic Church after attending Mass on St. Johns Island, South Carolina on Aug. 13.
Joshua Roberts/REUTERS

But voluminous information on Hunter’s laptop, visitor logs from Biden’s days as vice president and statements by a former partner of Hunter’s, Tony Bobulinski, convince me that Joe Biden was sharing in the millions of dollars received by Hunter and his brother, Jim Biden. In short, the president has much to hide and real reason to fear a Republican Congress. 

As for the content of his speech, nothing stirs the fire of Dems more than the name Trump. And because developments from Garland’s raid on Mar-a-Lago have put Trump in the news daily, Biden probably saw this as the perfect time to make his MAGA = unAmerican argument. 

He gave the base what it wanted and added the license to hate most Republicans as a bonus. He probably assumed that, with his polls ticking up slightly amid talk of Dems potentially holding Congress, now was the time to go for the jugular. 

Thus, from a political perspective, his calculation about the speech makes some sense. The problem is that the content was so dark and uninspiring that it lacked the gravitas of a memorable presidential address and came off as just another campaign broadside. 

The result of Biden’s unforced error is that he probably turned off as many voters as he stimulated and might have blunted his recent poll momentum. 

All of which explains why his aides usually hide the president from the public and press and why Barack Obama made this memorable observation: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f- -k things up.”

Flying Pvt. Spielberg 

Reports that a private jet belonging to Hollywood director Steven Spielberg burned more than $116,000 worth of fuel since June despite Spielberg’s warnings about global warming got the attention of author Jonathan Kellerman. He writes from Los Angeles to say the jet is not the only example of Spielberg’s hypocrisy, adding, “He was a financial backer of George Gascon, our absurdly anti-enforcement district attorney, but maintains a private army to guard his own family’s security.”

Remember my praise of Kat? Scratch that 

Reader Sara Gershon believes I was too kind to Gov. Hochul when I wrote: “She smiles a lot, seems genuinely gracious and is deferential, sometimes to a fault.” 

Gershon writes: “There is nothing gracious or deferential about a governor who allows New Yorkers to get sucker-punched, stabbed, robbed and shot on a daily basis and stays quiet about it!”

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