By Kenneth Tiven in Washington
“I will defend this nation. I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” said US President Joseph Biden at ceremonies marking the failed insurrection of January 6, 2021.
At commemorative events this past week, both Biden and US Attorney General Merrick Garland made it obvious they believe Donald Trump and associates were actively leading efforts to thwart Biden’s electoral college victory confirmation.
US voters party-wise (early 2020)
Ind & misc: 33,530,123
Wk Families: 50,532
The soft-spoken Garland is careful with his words, having spent decades as a federal court judge. He said, “The Department of Justice (DOJ) remains committed to holding ALL 1/6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under the law whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We’ll follow the facts wherever they lead…I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for. But we will and we must speak through our work. Anything else jeopardizes the viability of our investigations and the civil liberties of our citizens.”
Garland explained DOJ’s original purpose was to protect the lives, rights, and the franchise for freed Black citizens in the South in the years after the Civil War. It was subtle but he was tying the 19th century Civil War to what Trump did for four years, and how Republicans are now fully behind efforts to suppress voting in 2022.
Basically, people registered as Republicans are about 29% of the voting population. While a noisy block of rightwing supporters claim all Republicans, the fact is that 40% of the pool are Democrats and 29% are independents, also considered low information voters by political analysts.
Biden never used his predecessors given name. He went right for the jugular, evoking the former president 16 times in the speech, declaring that Trump’s outsized ego won’t allow him to admit he lost. And as Trump himself has boasted, “I hate to lose. I am not a loser.”
Biden was clear on what he sees as Trump’s motivation: “The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He has done so because he values power over principle. Because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest, than America’s interest. And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost.”
Biden recapped the damage to remind listeners that this was one of the largest mass criminal event in memory. Insurrectionists assaulted 140 police officers and caused millions of dollars in damage. At least five people were left dead including at least one officer.
Many Americans watched the unrest unfold in real time as the rioters displayed no love for the police defending the Capitol. After a year of investigating the largest mass criminal event in US history, Americans are wondering: Is justice being served swiftly and forcefully? It will be, Biden suggested, but acknowledged the legal system is complex. The tone of this speech marked a sharp pivot in Biden’s strategy for dealing with Trump and his continuing promotion of the unsubstantiated assertion that the 2020 election was marred by fraud.
It was aimed at getting right under the skin of her uncle, said niece Mary Trump, an outspoken critic of Trump. Lawrence O’Donnell, now a journalist after decades of work within Capitol Hill before reporting on it, said, “It made me think of the way the intelligence community briefs the president before talking to people like (Russian President) Vladimir Putin about what might irritate them … what might make them feel uncomfortable,” said O’Donnell.
“This seemed to have some passages in there that were absolutely true and important for America to hear, but the White House and the president had to know would go straight into Donald Trump’s heart,” he suggested.
“I thought it was masterfully done and exactly, as you say, along the lines of a psy-op, if you will,” Mary Trump said.
Several petulant, near hysterical, statements the day after Biden’s speech were Trump’s first response, but then advisers obviously persuaded him to let someone write a slightly less shrill response for him. The mildest of which was, “His handlers gave him that speech to read yesterday because they know the unprecedented failures of his presidency.”
For the record a presidential speech of this magnitude is drafted by the president, informed by advisors and finished as political speech by Cholleti Vinay Reddy, the country’s first Indian American chief presidential speechwriter. Reddy, born in the USA to a family from Pothireddypeta, a village in the Indian state of Telangana. He first worked with Biden in his second term as Vice President to Barack Obama.
Conservative media in America largely ignored the events in Washington. Fox News Channel carried the entire speech, then disagreed with most of what he said in commentary and then basically ignored the story for the remainder of the day.
Republicans in Congress number 270. At the moment of silence for the Capitol Police officers who died, there were only two Republicans who showed up.
Rep. Lynn Cheney. And her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, now 80 years old.