If someone had told you a week ago that this would happen, you would have known exactly how the reaction and counterreaction would go. Watch.
The first stage is the initial consensus: “Well, that was rude.” And it was. They were having a pleasant chat about their kids (the caller also has a son named Hunter) and what the little ones asked Santa for this year. Then the guy went there. It was tacky, not so much because the president is owed special decorum — although this country could desperately use a little more decorum — but because it injected a note of political nastiness into what had been a friendly conversation on Christmas Eve. That’s America 2021 for you.
The next stage is liberal overreaction. The caller, Jared Schmeck, told The Oregonian that he’s already received “vague but threatening phone calls,” in the paper’s words. Reportedly he’s been doxxed online. No doubt there are efforts afoot to get him fired. And the media will inevitably go dumpster-diving into his past to see if it can find anything with which to humiliate him.
There’s a hint of that in the Oregonian story, in fact, as Schmeck apparently used to be a police officer but no longer is. Quote: “Asked why he resigned from Medford police on July 15, 2018, Schmeck wouldn’t say.” Why do they need to know why he’s no longer a cop to write a story about him pranking the president?
The competition for most overheated left-wing reaction will be stiff during this slow news week but Ron Brownstein is playing to win:
CNN is PISSED that a parent would say "Let's Go Brandon" to Biden directly. Analyst says it's ungracious. It's juvenile. It's reprehensible…and (this is CNN)…it's about "insurrection." pic.twitter.com/vRRIZagEvb
— Tim Graham (@TimJGraham) December 26, 2021
Most of those rending their garments over Schmeck’s jab would have found it delightful if some Resistance type had ended a Christmas call with Biden’s predecessor by saying “Truck Fump” or whatever, and they know it. Alex Griswold puts it well:
The Let’s Go Brandon guy is basically like a streaker at a football game. He thinks it’s hilarious, his dumb friends think it’s hilarious, everyone else thinks he’s a moron.
But also if you’re still fuming about a streaker days later, you’re probably an insufferable prude.
— Griswold Family Christmas (@HashtagGriswold) December 26, 2021
Next comes the counterreaction stage in which MAGA types elevate Schmeck to Folk Hero of the Week for having pwn3d Biden. It’s a cinch that Fox News has already tried to land him for an interview; I’d be surprised if he doesn’t turn up on Tucker Carlson’s show. (Unless Tucker’s airing reruns during Christmas week.) A word of advice to Schmeck, though. If you want to be feted in righty populist media, it helps to take partisan sides. He made a point of telling The Oregonian that he’s not a “Trumper”:
“At the end of the day, I have nothing against Mr. Biden, but I am frustrated because I think he can be doing a better job,” said Jared Schmeck, 35, who works for an electric company and was previously a Medford police officer for six years until he resigned in July 2018. “I mean no disrespect to him.”…
Schmeck said he’s not a “Trumper,” but described himself as “free-thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ.”…
Schmeck called his remark a “joke,” and a reflection of his frustration with Biden’s policies, including the federal vaccine mandates, inflation and global supply chain problems that have caused shortages in consumer products…
“I understand there is a vulgar meaning to ‘Lets go Brandon,’ but I’m not that simple minded, no matter how I feel about him,” the 35-year-old father said Christmas morning. “He seems likes he’s a cordial guy. There’s no animosity or anything like that. It was merely just an innocent jest to also express my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner…I love him just like I love any other brother or sister.”
Yeah, I don’t know, buddy. “I mean no disrespect to him” isn’t the way you get the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” audience behind you.
I’m curious: If he didn’t intend to communicate the vulgar meaning behind “Let’s go, Brandon,” what did he intend by saying it? If he’s dissatisfied with Biden’s policies and couldn’t resist the urge to convey that, he could have just … said something to the president about his policies.
It could very well be 100% an artifact of polarization, but I know a heck of a lot of people who have drifted out of the realm of "interesting to hear their views on policy" to "obsessed with dunking on politicians."
— Matt Glassman (@MattGlassman312) December 26, 2021
Schmeck cared more about a bratty dunk than about using his moment in the spotlight to make a substantive statement about policy. Again: That’s America 2021 for you.
We’ll see if he turns up on Fox tomorrow and whether he’s decided within the past 24 hours that he’s more of a “Trumper” than he realized now that he’s destined to be championed by pro-Trump media. Exit question: Did Biden know what “Let’s go, Brandon” meant when Schmeck said it? He must have known, right? Righties have been using it for months. Jill Biden certainly knew, per her reaction in the clip. But Biden not only didn’t miss a beat in saying “Let’s go, Brandon, I agree,” he tried to keep the conversation going with Schmeck despite the insult. My sense is that he may have thought “Brandon” was the name of one of Schmeck’s sons, that Schmeck was giving his kid a shout-out during a call with the president, and so Biden felt obliged to join in. Presumably he knows what “Let’s go, Brandon” means but didn’t put two and two together in the moment. And no wonder, given how friendly their chat had been up to that point.