This week, the president took a trip to Virginia to try to help salvage the gubernatorial prospects of fellow Washington lifer Terry McAuliffe. President Joe Biden used the appearance to liken the GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin to Jan. 6 rioters, to lie about Republicans supporting “book bans,” and to attempt to goad former President Donald Trump into coming to Virginia. (Mission accomplished? Perhaps not.)
Biden wants to talk about one person these days, and that person isn’t Biden. Then again, what does he possibly have to brag about? Shutting down COVID? More Americans have died from the disease during his presidency than his predecessors, even with the emergence of vaccines. “I will not shut down the country,” Biden promised during his campaign. “I will shut down the virus.”
Now, of course, coronavirus isn’t really the president’s fault. But since Biden had no compunction blaming Trump personally for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens, no one can fault voters for using the same standard of culpability now.
Is Biden going to brag about overseeing what promises to be the weakest economic recovery since the last time he was put in charge of such things? Rather than looking for ways to create more opportunities for American workers, the president has been clamoring to put millions of them on the dole.
Is the president going to talk about the border? Is he once again going to explain how high inflation is actually a positive development for most consumers? Is he going to brag about his foreign policy? When was the last time an American president abandoned hundreds of U.S. citizens to a terror regime? After 13 service members were murdered by terrorists in Kabul, due in part to his administration’s stark incompetence, we proceeded to accidentally kill seven children in retaliation. The terrorists disappeared only slightly faster than the media coverage.
No, Biden is going to talk about Trump.
It’s worth mentioning, as well, that while Democrats were in a constant state of feigned dismay over the lack of decorum during the Trump years — Biden often promised to “restore decency” to the White House — they are just as guilty of corroding our public discourse.
On Youngkin, for example, Biden said, “Extremism can come in many forms. It can come in the rage of a mob driven to assault the Capitol. It can come in a smile and a fleece vest.” It isn’t surprising to hear unhinged pundits conflating the Jan. 6 rioters with Republicans who have never uttered a word of support for the attack on the Capitol but coming from the president of the United States, a president whose campaign was grounded on the promise of mending a frayed nation and normalizing political behavior; it’s particularly ugly.
This kind of rhetoric, though, is nothing new for Biden. In 2012, before Trump had allegedly coarsened our politics, the then-vice president told a crowd of African Americans that the milquetoast Republican and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, a man who had never embraced any form of racism, much less allied himself with segregationists, was going to “put you all back in chains” because he was in favor of some mild deregulation and economic reforms.
Well, Youngkin is apparently similarly disposed. His principal issue has been parents and their lack of control over school curricula. If you’re looking for an election conspiracy theorist in the Virginia gubernatorial race, though, you need not look any further than McAuliffe, who doesn’t seem to believe a Republican has won a presidential contest since 1988.
But, as the New York Times pointed out, even McAuliffe barely, if ever, mentions the former president in his ads or speeches. Biden’s appearance might fly in deep-blue northern Virginia, and it may or may not work in bringing Trump to the state, but it’s unlikely to save his presidency.
The more Americans get to know Biden, the less they like him. And the less they like him, the more he’s compelled to talk about Trump.
David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review.
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