Talk about a blow to the solar plexus. Straight to the heart of the matter.
Joe Biden set his feet and aimed at his opponent’s 42-inch mid-section.
“We are living in the era of a second lost cause,” Biden said in one of the most powerful speeches in memory.
That cause? The bid “to turn a loss into a lie.”
Today’s MAGA Party knows the truth but can’t speak it.
It knows its leader is a liar and law-breaker but won’t admit it.
The second lost cause is the party’s obeisance to him at the expense of the nation.
Biden’s introductory salvo of the 2024 election season could not have been more on-target.
As he said, “Truth is under assault in America.”
Oh, and the original lost cause? Biden reminded Americans what that was.
Nikki Haley had a problem with it when asked on an Iowa stage about what caused the Civil War.
She fumbled and stumbled. She said it was about, um, intrusive government. Um, oh, yeah.
She shouldn’t have attempted to rephrase when derision rained down. Admit it, Nikki; your first explanation was a smashing replication of the defenses of South Carolina slave owners — a teary refrain of not-forgotten “old times”: Jim Crow and lynchings as entertainment.
That said, it was unfair for Haley to have to eat her words when Donald Trump days later would say something just as indefensible — that he would have negotiated away the Civil War.
Negotiate what? asked Liz Cheney. “The slavery part? The secession part? Whether Lincoln should have preserved the Union?”
Trump didn’t clarify. No other Republicans would dare ask him to.
There’s a good reason for that. Whether the cause is voter suppression or race-based gerrymandering. Whether it’s making “diversity” a dirty word. Whether it’s rejecting the angst of Black Lives Matter, or coming up with sinister acronyms for clear-eyed looks at systemic discrimination in American history.
Name your premise for policy. Know that for the Party of MAGA, once known as the Party of Lincoln, racism is a mighty life force.
This is the party that will applaud a statement about immigrants “poisoning the blood of our country.”
It is the party of, “Go back to where you came from,” even when that place is, say, Detroit, birthplace of Congresswoman Rashida Talib.
It’s the party that insists that any vote tally is suspect at a precinct where people of color make up the preponderance of voters and election workers. That was the whole deal, Rudy Giuliani. Wasn’t it?
It is the party that will defend, heck, deify half-cocked vigilantes like George Zimmerman and Kyle Rittenhouse in disputes that come down to matters of pigment.
And, of course, there’s the exaltation of the former president now facing more criminal charges and civil claims than a white-collar penal wing – a rogue who pleads that no criminal law applies to him.
As I pondered Joe Biden’s well-placed opening salvo in this presidential season, a reader emailed something from Alexander Hamilton.
Hamilton was bothered by the prospect of an individual “possessed of considerable talents, but “unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper,” and bearing a “despotic” fascination.
When that person mounted “the hobby horse of popularity,” that figure would “take every opportunity of embarrassing the general government and bringing it under suspicion – to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day,” Hamilton warned.
“It may justly be suspected” with such a person, Hamilton wrote, “that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”
If I may, let’s add to Hamilton’s conjecture that such a would-be despot would come to voters with a host of lies, including, “I alone can fix it.”
Joe Biden offers nothing of the sort. He seeks to continue leading a democratic republic, seeking coalitions and compromise, making the tough decisions by which it might do right by its people – all of them.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.