The walkback starts: “I don’t consider any Trump supporter a threat”

Source: Hot Air

Good to hear, if a bit late — like about 20 hours too late. After staging a prime-time national address to paint “MAGA Republicans” as a unique threat to the country, Joe Biden turned around today to … completely contradict the core argument of his demagogic rant at Independence Hall.

Peter Doocy pinned him down at a press avail late this morning:

Charlie Spiering got the full quote (via Twitchy):

So … wouldn’t that include all of “The Resistance” types who rioted in Washington DC on January 20, 2017 too? Stacey Abrams in Georgia refused to accept the results of her election, as did Hillary Clinton. Why didn’t Biden talk about that in his speech last night, if he didn’t claim that Trump’s “MAGA Republicans” were a threat?

Hint: It’s because that’s precisely what Biden said:

Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.

Now, I want to be very clear — (applause) — very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.

I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.

But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.

You could look it up, as Casey Stengel once said under much more pleasant circumstances. The Washington Free Beacon did look it up and provided a side-by-side comparison:

And what about this?

Why the walkback now? It can’t be because of any significant blowback in the political arena, at least not yet. The Hill’s Dominic Mastrangelo has a brief round-up of reactions among cable news outlets, but other than the previously noted criticism of the optics, there hasn’t been much pushback on Biden’s original argument. Even Politico’s obvious point that this was a campaign speech got buried under a lot of chin-stroking over Biden’s argument that “MAGA Republicans” were a threat. (I’ll have more on that in a later post.)

If anything, the friendliest media to the White House wanted Biden to go farther in demagoguing his opposition:

In terms of the substance of the speech, some on the political left felt Biden’s speech did not go far enough in calling out Republicans who have backed Trump’s false claims of election fraud and other statements and policies on race, immigration and other cultural issues.

“I don’t know who the ‘It’s not all Republicans, just MAGA Republicans’ [is] for,” said liberal pundit Elie Mystal during an appearance Thursday night on MSNBC. “I’m sure there are some white supremacists who will vote with white supremacists, who don’t think they are white supremacists who are happy Biden didn’t call them a white supremacist.”

Clearly, Mystal and others on the Left heard Biden’s message the same way that Republicans and conservatives heard it.

So again, why walk this back today? Some speculated on Twitter that the White House did some snap polling and got bad news on how this message got received. Given the narrow access to the speech last night — none of the broadcast networks carried it — I’d be surprised if anyone bothered with a snap poll, let alone expected anything out of it. Most of its audience would have come from team-player MSNBC and Biden-friendly (or at least MAGA-hostile) CNN, so the small slice of the electorate that watched it live would almost certainly have been receptive to Biden’s arguments. WaPo columnist Eugene Robinson hailed it as a “wartime address,” for Pete’s sake, which I’ll address in a later analysis as well.

Perhaps everyone at the White House took a look at the optics and Biden’s combative “wartime” histrionics and had second thoughts about their strategy last night. Maybe they decided, belatedly, that painting tens of millions of Americans as the enemy while lamenting a lack of grace in politics was too hypocritical for even this White House to sustain. Or maybe Biden just can’t keep his messages straight. I know which way I’d bet … while noting that none of these are mutually exclusive.

And worth noting: at nearly the same time, the White House was still defending the speech as somehow apolitical: