Language note: This post originally contained such salty language that I thought I should include a warning up front for those turned off by profanity. Against all odds, however, I managed to seize control of my temper and soothe it down to the point where I could form coherent sentences without explosions of Anglo-Saxon crudity. I include this language note to boast of that because if nothing described below makes you fume and cuss and clench your first and even foam a bit at the mouth, then either you have no soul or you’ve achieved such an advanced state of cynicism that you may be clinically dead. (Consult a physician.)
Do words matter anymore? At all?
With all the recent fuss over pronouns and college speech codes along with the fetid flood of political correctness that began to swamp America in the 1980s, an outside observer might assume that language was the most important thing of all. The battlefield on which all social questions were fought, the proving ground on which all ideas were tested.
At the same time, however, we continue to see that although it’s increasingly important to mouth the approved pieties (masking saves lives, pandemic of the unvaccinated, black lives matter, women can have penises)—to the extent that not saying them can carry dire consequences—living up to them is optional. Which suggests they have no meaning at all.
So my hope this Christmas season is that we take a few moments of quiet reflection and find that stillness in the heart of Christmas — that’s at the heart of Christmas, and look — really look at each other, not as Democrats or Republicans, not as members of “Team Red” or “Team Blue,” but as who we really are: fellow Americans. Fellow human beings worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.
I sincerely hope this holiway [sic] se- — this holiday season will drain the poison that has infected our politics and set us against one another.
I hope this Christmas season marks a fresh start for our nation, because there is so much that unites us as Americans, so much more that unites us than divides us.
That’s an excerpt from President Joe Biden’s Christmas remarks to the nation. Copied directly from the official White House transcript, including the mush-mouthed business in the middle paragraph.
Remarks to which the only response I could immediately muster were unfit for print.
This is the man whose entire strategy for the midterms consisted of dividing the nation as savagely and contemptibly as any American figure in modern history.
A man who began his term of office by erecting barbed wire around the capital.
A man who used the bully pulpit to demonize his political adversaries in ways unprecedented in the entire history of the American presidency.
A man who sought to use division as a political lever—and now asks us all to come together in peace and harmony.
Sure, Joe. After you.
Are you ready to concede that the Georgia voting law reforms that produced the highest voter turnout in its history, across all demographics, was not in fact anything like the Jim Crow laws your party championed in the south?
And that black Americans could vote for Donald Trump and still be black Americans?
And that maybe it wasn’t a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” given that the virus neither prevented the spread of the virus nor reduced its mortality?
And that maybe the 80% or more of the country who support requiring identification to vote aren’t all “sick, sick?”
Maybe you’re finally willing to apologize for having referred to half the country as “semi-fascists,” or as a “clear and present danger” to the republic—and to democracy itself?
You spent the better part of two years portraying your political adversaries and anyone who supported them as literal enemies of the state.
You want to “drain the poison?” No president has ever poured more poison into the well of American discourse than you have. If you want Americans to treat one another with “dignity and respect,” how about you show us the way?
Not with abstract remarks dropped into a microphone, but through your own behavior as president?
He won’t, of course. He can’t. He has nothing else to offer. Sound economic policy? Stabilizing foreign policy? Secure borders?
He’s the guy who said Donald Trump should not be president because he was “responsible” for 220,000 covid deaths (as of October 2020). There’ve been four times as many deaths under Biden’s watch.
And the establishment media aren’t going to hold him to his words: far from criticizing him, they lionized him for his divisiveness—he was a fighter! Their champion! Joe Biden, slayer of Corn-Pop! The guy who bullied Ukraine into sacking a state prosecutor in exchange for a billion dollar bribe—and bragged about it!
He’s tough, old Joe, and if the Aviator glasses aren’t enouh to prove it, just check him out as he drops a few g’s and calls people Jack! He challenges them to push-up contests and calls them fat!
And yet the same media are now praising his call for unity as if he hadn’t spent the past two years pissing all over civility.
Two years into his presidency, Biden has struggled at times to fulfill one of his chief promises: restoring normalcy to American political discourse and decency to the way Americans of differing views treat each other. Even he has admitted he did not anticipate the “fever” of the Trump era would have endured this long into his presidency.
See? It’s not Biden, it’s that damned Trump “fever” dividing the nation. It’s just this damn war and that lying son of a bitch Johnson!
His address Thursday seemed designed to remind Americans that those ideals remain at the heart of his vision for the country. Even as the country’s angry voices remain the loudest – very often obscuring Biden himself in the battle for attention – the president seemed intent on speaking to the vast swath of Americans who are looking for something calmer.
Did I mention the word of the year for 2022 was gaslighting?
Joe Biden’s “vision for the country” is one in which he and his party control everything and everyone that opposes that vision is prevented from participating in public life. He’s basically said as much: in his infamous and grotesque speech on September 1, he assured us that not all Republicans were awful:
“I know,” he said, “because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.”
It’s a circular definition: they’re reasonable because they agree with him.
And yet the very next words out of his mouth were these:
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.
Unity, baby. Togetherness!
All the more so in that it was all pure horse puckey. Biden wasn’t trying to unite America, or to warn us about a rising threat to our republic: he was inventing a bogeyman to rail against for his own political benefit.
“I want to unify the country, but first we have to purge it of the terrible and dangerous people who oppose me!” said every dictator in human history ever.
So words mean nothing. You can stoke division all year then stand up and praise the healing power of unity, and the establishment press and its amen corner will praise your decency.
With that in mind, I’d like to clarify my own position on something.
Earlier this year I said that if Congressional Republicans won a majority in the midterms, I hoped they would recognize that in handing them the keys to Congress the American people would have been voting against the Democrats’ overreach of the past several years.
I argued that Republicans should therefore interpret a victory as a mandate to stop the politicization of the federal government, to end the use of hearings and impeachments as political tools.
My reasoning was simple enough: in turning to the Republicans, Americans would be expressing their rejection of the weaponization of federal agencies and politicization of everything as practiced by the Democrats. It would therefore be suicidal for Republicans to adopt the same scorched-earth politics that had driven Americans away from the Democratic party.
I stand by my reasoning, but as we’ve seen the American public didn’t reject the Democratic party at all. By historical standards, it could even be argued that they rewarded the Democrats.
So Americans appear to be okay with the political weaponization of all the things: Americans are apparently okay with purely political impeachments, kangaroo Congressional courts, and scorched-earth politics at the national level.
So give the people what they want.
I withdraw my previously expressed objections to the Republicans using their House majority to harass Democrats by any means possible. If they want a Senate majority in 2024, they’ll have to.
Set up the special committees, launch the witch-hunt investigations, lie to the American people all you want about Joe Biden’s dealings with China and Russia (but follow Adam Schiff’s example and be sure not to lie when under oath behind closed doors). I won’t object. What’s good for the Democratic goose is surely good for the Republican gander. Let ’em have it. Give ’em hell.
If Americans had a problem with that kind of thing, they would have let us know in November.
One more note on the left’s disingenuous praise of unity.
Have a look at this screenshot of a tweet:
Michael Beschloss is the “presidential historian” for NBC news. According to his Twitter profile he has 819,000 followers and has been called “normally sober” by the Financial Times.
Really: he’s wearing that as a badge of honor, as if the implication weren’t obviously that he was sometimes off his rocker.
He wants to know why anyone dared not to applaud for Vlodomor Zelensky when he addressed Congress the other day. He doubled down on that tweet later on television, insisting that the American public deserved an explanation: was it because they loved Putin? Because they hated democracy? Or what.
Really: those were the options he presented. The only reason anyone might not applaud for Zelensky would be because they loved Putin or hated democracy (“or whatever”).
Newsweek is happy to enable this totalitarian instinct:
Full List of Republicans Who Sat During Zelensky’s Speech
James Bickerton, Newsweek, December 22
I myself thought it was bad form when the Congressional Black Caucus sat on their hands while Donald Trump announced to Congress that his administration had brought about the lowest unemployment among black Americans in American history—but it never would have dawned on me to compile a list of those legislators, much less to pitch that list as an article idea to a major “news” periodical.
Partisans from both parties routinely publicize the names of legislators who voted for or against a particular bill. That’s fair: a vote is a vote, and making voters aware of who supported or opposed a particular piece of legislation is an entirely legitimate political enterprise.
But makings lists of people who didn’t clap when you thought they should? That’s fever-swamp stuff.
Beschloss and Bickerton weren’t alone in their obsession:
Representatives Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Andrew Clyde, Diana Harshbarger, Warren Davidson, Michael Cloud and Jim Jordan “repeatedly remaining seated in standing ovations” whilst Zelensky gave his speech, according to Axios Congress reporter Andrew Solender.
Washington Post reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell tweeted: “During one standing ovation, Rep. Clyde (R-Ga.) was one of the few who didn’t stand. When Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) encouraged him to stand, Clyde seemed to mouth ‘I’m not. I’m not,’ while shaking his head.”
Newsweek, the Washington Post, Axios, and the “normally sober” NBC presidential historian Beschloss think it’s important whether or not people are applauding appropriately.
That’s what these people mean by “unity.” They mean total and absolute conformity to their values.
Is the name “Beschloss” ringing a bell, by the way?
It did for me.
Rang a whole bunch of bells.
He’s the guy who made headlines this fall by warning that if Republicans won a Congressional majority in the mid-terms, “our children will be arrested and conceivably killed.”
Normally sober indeed.
So a guy that was on national television warning that Republicans want Americans’ children arrested and probably killed is so hot for unity that he wants everyone to take notes on who didn’t applaud enthusiastically enough for a foreign head of state whose record on democracy is spotty at best.
One can support Unkraine’s efforts to defeat Putin and still recognize that Zelensky has some profoundly anti-democratic tendencies—outlawing political opposition and shutting down opposition media among them. Indeed, one can even support someone without taking it all the way to idolatry.
Joe Biden, Michael Beschloss, James Bickerton, and their fellow travelers don’t want to arrest or kill anyone’s children (that I know of): they just want to silence all debate, crush all dissent, and punish people who don’t applaud hard enough for the right things.