Biden on January 6: Trump created a lie about the election to soothe his own bruised ego

Correct. I’m not sure what else needs to be said.

Let’s say a little more, beginning with the fact that his and Kamala Harris’s speeches this morning were flawed. Harris compared January 6 to 9/11 as a date that will live in America’s collective memory, a poor analogy for various reasons. And she used her remarks to call for voting reform, which was foolish considering there’s no chance of that passing the Senate and doing so validates the GOP criticism that Democrats care about January 6 chiefly as a cudgel to help them pass their policy agenda.

Biden misstepped too. It’s true that only one side attacked the Capitol after their guy didn’t win but it sure ain’t true that only one side has trouble loving their country after a defeat. And Republicans won’t take kindly to being lectured about it by a Democrat.

But Biden got the big stuff right. Righty media will spend today grasping for arguments to dismiss what he said, in some cases offering conspiratorial reasons and in others more prosaic ones. Republican pols and mainstream outlets like Fox will grumble that the speech was a distraction, that it was “divisive,” that we should be talking about literally anything else. (Whatabout BLM?) The answers to those points all boil down to the same thing: It’s not Democrats who’ve made January 6 a live issue every day for the past year. It’s Republicans, starting with Trump.

He did it again this morning.

That was one of two statements he put out after Biden’s speech describing the election as “rigged,” which amounts to a justification of the riot. After all, even critics of the insurrection concede that they can understand why someone might resort to violence if they sincerely believed Democrats were perpetrating a fraud on American democracy. Trump’s year of public fulminating over having had his rightful victory stolen will inevitably convince some supporters that force was, and is, the only way to prevent more “cheating.”

He certainly didn’t seem too broken up about it on January 6, according to his press secretary:

Even that wouldn’t be a crisis-level problem if Republican voters had been done with him after January 6. An old man ranting about stolen ballots from his golf course in Florida is no threat to anyone. But Republicans weren’t done with him. To the contrary.

Republican voters implicitly validated the riot when they rallied to Trump after January 6 and made him the presumptive, even prohibitive, favorite for the 2024 nomination. Trump has spent the past year openly endorsing loyalist candidates for state offices that have influence over elections, like the secretary of state race in Georgia, for the transparent reason that he intends to try to overturn the next election too if it doesn’t go his way. And GOPers seem fine with that. Anything to keep the Democrats out of power. Kevin Williamson:

The homicidal clown show at the Capitol was one prong of a multi-pronged attack, part of a failed coup d’état that proceeded on several fronts and that — this part matters — proceeds still on several fronts, prominent among them the effort to purge responsible and patriotic Republican officials from state election-oversight positions in order to replace them with Trump sycophants and conspiracy cultists for the purpose of nullifying or sabotaging future elections that produce uncongenial results irrespective of whether Donald Trump ever again appears on a ballot. The most important part of the coup d’état wasn’t the guy with the bison horns shaking his spear at the rotunda — it was the effort to come up with some pretext for formally nullifying the elections and to recruit a sufficient number of coconspirators to act on the pretext. The coup d’état failed because that more insidious project failed, not because the sideshow at the Capitol faded out. There is no great reason to be confident that the democratic firewall will hold again next time…

It is my view that none of the Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 results should ever hold office again, and that no candidate who is unwilling to forthrightly condemn both the violence of January 6 and the lies that inspired that violence ought to enjoy the support of any conservative, any organ of the Republican Party, or, indeed, any American who calls himself a patriot. No candidate who cannot give a simple yes or no answer — and give the correct one — to the question of whether the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump ought to hold office. If that puts the Republican Party into the minority for a generation, then the Republican Party deserves it, having become a menace not only to the conservative principles and governance it purports to cherish but to the political structure of the nation and the Constitution itself. Those who have no use for caudillos and mobs, and who hope to see our constitutional order endure, should seriously consider separating themselves from the Republican Party unless and until it proves capable of reforming itself.

Republicans could have dispensed with Trump in January. As it is, they love him more than ever. Some polls show 70+ percent believe his claims that the election was stolen despite his utter failure to produce any evidence in a year of trying. That’s why Biden’s speech today is relevant. When the authoritarian “stop the steal” project ends, commemorating January 6 will matter less. But it hasn’t. So it matters.