Post editorial board: Biden’s ‘scolding’ and ‘demeaning’ speech fell short

Source: Hot Air

I’m pretty surprised to see this today. Just a few days ago I was very critical of the Washington Post for becoming the “goth teen of national newspapers” for its fixation on the death of democracy and today the editorial board has published something criticizing the tone and content of Joe Biden’s speech last night. They editorial opens by saying they agree with the idea democracy is under assault but quickly pivot to why Biden’s speech did a terrible job of addressing those concerns.

The difficult, perhaps insurmountable, challenge that Mr. Biden confronted — just eight weeks before midterm elections that will determine the future course of his presidency — was how to convey the message of defending democracy in a way that summons patriotism rather than partisanship. Here, as much as we agree with the president about the urgency of the issue, is where he fell short, too often sounding more like a Democrat than a democrat. You don’t persuade people by scolding or demeaning them, but that’s how the president’s speech landed for many conservatives of goodwill.

Mr. Biden was wrong to conflate upholding the rule of law with his own partisan agenda, which he called “the work of democracy.” You can be for democracy but against the president’s policy proposals to use government to lower prescription-drug prices and combat climate change. “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards, backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love,” Mr. Biden proclaimed. But many conservatives — not just “MAGA forces” — agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. It was disappointing that Mr. Biden chose to omit that the infrastructure, gun-control and burn-pits legislation he praised had passed with Republican votes. Pointing this out would actually have strengthened his effort to draw a contrast between “MAGA Republicans” and “mainstream Republicans.”

Moreover, Mr. Biden’s clarion call for democracy would carry more credibility if he were willing to call out his own party for its cynical effort to elevate some of the same “MAGA Republicans” he now warns will destroy democracy if they prevail in the general election. During the primaries, Democrats spent tens of millions helping dangerous election deniers defeat better-funded “mainstream Republicans,” including in Pennsylvania, where Mr. Biden, not coincidentally, chose to speak.

Give the Post credit for speaking the truth to a mostly hostile audience. The top comment on this editorial is from “Dark Brandon” who writes, “Biden literally said ‘Not all Republicans are MAGA Republicans, in fact the majority aren’t’, and the WAPO Board writes this garbage column?” Biden did literally say that but how does that undercut the points raised by the editorial board, i.e. that Biden conflated the rule of law with his own agenda, that he failed to acknowledge there are pro-lifers (even some Democrats) who aren’t Trump fans. Or that he failed to say anything about people in his own party promoting the campaigns of the people he now says are a threat to democracy.

All the top comments sound like this:

  • “Who is on your Editorial Board? This column is ridiculous! We have a dangerous partisan faction in our country and you are nitpicking a speech given by the President to alert the citizens to the peril our democracy is facing.”
  • “Yeah, pretty shallow analysis. Dems need to win, end of story. Dems winning IS the vote for democracy. If you are a pragmatist, and take this view, the speech was spot on. I hope he fired up his base. He has had some wins and he has every right to point them out. As for the ‘cynical’ Dems gimme a break, this is war.”

This is pretty much what I was seeing on Twitter last night. Many, many progressives have bought into this idea that this is their Flight 93 Election and they don’t want to hear anything but that kind of rhetoric. And that’s why the Post’s top opinion piece right now isn’t this one but something written by Dana Milbank which mocks the ideas of nuance that the Post editorial board is trying to defend. Milbank’s piece is titled “Dear Insurrectionists and Fascists: I’m sorry I offended you.”

There is a better opinion piece about this topic at the Post today. Here’s Henry Olsen on Biden’s speech:

Presidents have public and political roles. Their public role is to serve as the nation’s chief executive, while their political one is to advance their party and its agenda. Presidents have historically taken great care to separate the two roles.

Biden disregarded that distinction, crucial to a functioning democracy, on Thursday night. He gave what was essentially a Democratic campaign speech during an official White House effort, complete with Marine guards standing ominously in the background. Casually ignoring a bipartisan democratic norm in a speech ostensibly devoted to protecting democracy dials chutzpah up to 11.

But that’s par for the course for Democrats this year. On the one hand, they tell Americans that MAGA Republicans are the greatest threat to the United States ever seen. On the other, they have spent nearly $50 million trying to promote ultra-MAGA candidates in Republican primaries, believing they would be easier to defeat in general elections. Just Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s political action committee placed more than $3 million in television ads to promote ultra-MAGA Senate candidate Don Bolduc in New Hampshire’s GOP primary. Cynically promoting people you believe to be threats to democracy for partisan gain is despicable.

There’s a reason Biden and the Democrats are waving the bloody shirt: Polls show they will likely lose the midterm elections if they don’t.

Read the whole thing. He makes some of the same points the editorial board made but with less holding back.