President Joe Biden made a speech honoring John McCain last week. He also sat down for an interview with John Harwood at ProPublica. He is starting to make the contrast between democracy and what The Former Guy is advocating. I suspect this will increase as we near the election.
He begins the speech with many memories of McCain. It’s the kind of thing politicians used to do and Biden does well, but it seems like rather much when you read the transcript. And then a heckler breaks in:
AUDIENCE MEMBER: When will you stand against corruption, Mr. President?
AUDIENCE: Booo —
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Sit down!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) ask why you have yet to declare a climate emergency? Why have you yet to declare a climate emergency? Hundred of Arizonians have died!
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Sit down!
And there’s more than that. But then Biden really takes off into the meat of his speech.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I tell you what, if you shush up, I’ll meet with you immediately after this. Okay? (Applause.)
But democracy never is easy, as we just demonstrated. (Laughter.) The cause — the cause is worth giving our all, for democracy makes all things possible.
Let me begin with the core principles. Democracy means rule of the people, not rule of monarchs, not rule of the monied, not rule of the mighty. Regardless of party, that means respecting free and fair elections; accepting the outcome, win or lose. (Applause.) It means you can’t love your country only when you win. (Applause.)
Democracy means rejecting and repudiating political violence. Regardless of party, such violence is never, never, never acceptable in America. (Applause.) It’s undemocratic, and it must never be normalized to advance political power.
And democracy means respecting the institutions that govern a free society. That means adhering to the timeless words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” A mission statement embodied in our Constitution, our system of separation of powers and checks and balances.
He attacks the MAGA movement, giving those who consider themselves Republicans room to run away from Trumpublicans. And he mentions Trump by name, possibly the first time he has done this.
Trump says the Constitution gave him, quote, “the right to do whatever he wants as President,” end of quote. I’ve never even heard a president say that in jest. Not guided by the Constitution or by common service and decency toward our fellow Americans but by vengeance and vindictiveness.
It’s not one person. It’s the controlling element of the House Republican Party.
There’s a lot more there. Similar comments in the interview, with an emphasis on the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, in the other camp –
Yesterday was the first day of the trial to determine what penalty Donald Trump and his companies will pay for the massive real estate frauds they have perpetrated for years. Heather Cox Richardson has a good summary. The fraud was so egregious that the judge found Trump companies guilty in a summary judgment. Trump showed up so that he wouldn’t have to testify in another trial. That kind of overlap is likely to become more common. Marcy Wheeler has a nice reading of Trump’s activity during the trial, to shape public opinion with the aid of the press.
I was using Marcy’s reading as a working hypothesis until this popped up.
Trump is demanding, through surrogates, that the Republican National Committee devote all its energies to defending him and plants a pre-emptive claim that the Democrats are stealing next year’s election. Like all Trump edicts, this is hard to parse, but one interpretation is that subordinates issued it because he was in too much of a rage to be allowed to have his phone. The trial is unhinging him (further?) with its negation of his great business empire. But part of what he must have been screaming would have been a demand for unthinking and total loyalty from his serfs in the Republican Party.
The best thing for the RNC to do is to ignore this; that often works with Trump rages. And today all the Republican news is the Gaetz – McCarthy cage fight.