A truly reprehensible argument, and a truly predictable result. Allahpundit called Joe Biden’s demagoguery yesterday in Georgia “[a]n ugly speech by a desperate man,” especially for Biden’s attempt to attack Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema sotto voce as somehow on the side of segregationists in their support of the filibuster. “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? The side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? The side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”
Sinema’s spokesperson shot down that effort a few minutes ago:
No comment from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on President Joe Biden's speech from yesterday but a spokesperson says that her position hasn't changed: She is open to discussing ideas to improve the way the Senate works but still opposes eliminating the 60-vote threshold
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 12, 2022
The choice of George Wallace struck Allahpundit and others as especially obtuse, given Biden’s own rhetorical history involving Wallace. Even as late as 2019, when Kamala Harris attacked him in the first Democratic presidential primary debate over busing, Biden had often defended his friendships with segregationists serving in the Senate during Biden’s first decade as a member:
In 1973, Democratic Party leadership was teeming with unsavory Southern senators. If a freshman like Biden—who in a 1974 Time magazine profile admitted “to being compulsively ambitious”—wanted a plum committee position, he would be compelled to approach someone like J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a segregationist and anti-Semite who would later become a mentor to the Clintons. (Bill awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993 and Hillary still had her name on a shared fellowship in 2016—although no one seemed to mind very much).
And if Biden wanted to be on the judiciary committee, he would have to get along with Eastland, the “Voice of the White South,” who was chair and president pro tempore of the Senate. The stories about their chummy relationship aren’t new; Biden has been repeating them for decades. …
Biden, according to Annis, showed Eastland “considerable deference” towards the Mississippi senator not because he was the key to freshman’s political ambitions but also an ally in the busing fight. Biden admits as much years later in his own 2008 book, “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.” Eastland wasn’t just a powerful senator, Biden points out, but ran the committee “that handled all crime legislation, a committee on which I badly wanted to serve.” Until very recently, of course, Biden took great pride in being a tough-on-crime Democrat.
“I started by asking him questions. He was proud of his standing as the longest-serving senator and of his reputation as a keeper of the institutional flame,” Biden goes on to write, “I think he was flattered by the deference I showed him, and his answers to my questions often surprised me.” (Italics mine.)
That includes Wallace, by the way:
FLASHBACK: Joe Biden once bragged about being praised by George Wallace. pic.twitter.com/kXhHBRLtrI
— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) January 11, 2022
"Everyone I don't like is George Wallace!" screamed the elderly president who once bragged about his association with George Wallace. pic.twitter.com/6cfjcSNA3E
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 12, 2022
Thus it is beyond curious why (a) Biden wants to bring up Wallace as an argument now, and especially (b) as an attack on fellow Democrats. Yes, yes, Biden’s also charging Senate Republicans with being part of “Jim Crow 2.0,” but the context of this speech was clearly the filibuster and the most well-known Senate Democratic obstacles to eliminating it. Smearing them as proto-Wallaces when Biden made his own Senate bones cozying up to segregationists is about as alienating as it gets.
Speaking of which, Washington Post columnist Gene Abernathty is mystified as to what Biden thinks he’s gaining by demagoguing not just his own allies but in smearing tens of millions of Republican voters:
A disturbing feature of last week’s commemoration of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot was the suggestion that 80 percent of Republicans who still support Donald Trump — roughly 60 to 70 million Americans, based on party registration numbers — are enemies of democracy. …
I’m firmly with those who regard it as settled fact that in 2020, Biden won and Trump lost. It worries me that so many Americans disagree with that, but I’m not about to suggest that they are insurrectionists or authoritarians any more than I would suggest as much about the supporters and enablers of politicians who, I sincerely believe, are steering the United States into socialism, despite how dangerously misguided I consider them. As always, as Americans, we have to live, work and forge ahead together.
And, so far, the public isn’t buying the notion that the GOP is evil incarnate. Republicans are poised to do well in the midterm elections. But the drumbeat has only begun, and the vilification of the GOP goes beyond traditional doctrinal differences. It borders dangerously on suggesting that association with the Republican Party is somehow suspicious, or that millions of honest, law-abiding Americans should be shunned based on their voter registration.
That was the seed planted by Biden last week — carefully nurtured by other politicians and pundits. If it takes root, it will be a poisonous plant indeed.
I’m old enough to remember when Biden ran as a centrist uniter. Now he’s smearing leading Democrats for not acting in total lockstep with his wishes in changing Senate rules he repeatedly, to the point of ad nauseam, defended when Biden himself sought recourse in them.
Clearly, it’s not working. And one has to wonder whether Manchin and Sinema want to stick around as Democrats for much longer under this kind of McCarthyite attack by a raging hypocritical demagogue — and how much voters will ask themselves the same question.