President Biden made a speech last night that more Americans should have heard. The TV networks didn’t interrupt their regular programming for it. You needed cable TV or an internet connection to watch it.
Earlier in the day, the former president, the criminal, said he would give full pardons to the January 6th insurrectionists if he’s re-elected. He went further. He said he’d apologize to them.
From what I’ve read today, the talking heads on TV were more focused on the setting for the President’s speech than what he said. They wondered how the speech would “play”. They were apparently concerned that Republicans would feel insulted.
Today, at least one reporter, John Harwood of CNN, spoke differently:
Of course, it was a political speech in a mid-term election year. The issues he’s talking about are inherently political. But … it’s important to say that the core point he made in that political speech about a threat to democracy is true! That’s not easy for us as journalists to say. We’re brought up to believe that there are two political parties with different points of view and we don’t take sides in honest disagreements between them. But that’s not what we’re talking about. These are not honest disagreements. The Republican Party right now is led by a dishonest demagogue. Many, many Republicans are rallying behind his lies about the 2020 election and other things as well. And a … portion of their constituency attacked the Capitol on January 6th violently. By offering pardons or suggesting pardons for those people … Donald Trump made Joe Biden’s point for him.
It was John Harwood’s last day at CNN. He’s one of the people the new management has fired in their attempt to make CNN a more pleasant viewing experience for Republicans and others lukewarm about democracy.
So here’s a partial transcript of the presidential speech that got so many people upset. It brings to mind what President Harry (“Give ’em Hell) Truman once : “I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell”.
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, … I speak to you tonight from sacred ground in America: Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
This is where America made its Declaration of Independence to the world more than two centuries ago with an idea, unique among nations, that in America, we’re all created equal.
This is where the United States Constitution was written and debated.
This is where we set in motion the most extraordinary experiment of self-government the world has ever known with three simple words: “We, the People.” “We, the People.”
These two documents and the ideas they embody — equality and democracy — are the rock upon which this nation is built….
But as I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise.
So tonight, I have come this place where it all began to speak as plainly as I can to the nation about the threats we face, about the power we have in our own hands to meet these threats, and about the incredible future that lies in front of us if only we choose it…..
But first, we must be honest with each other and with ourselves.
Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal.
Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.
Now, I want to be very clear — (applause) — very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology…..
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.
These are hard things.
But I’m an American President — not the President of red America or blue America, but of all America.
And I believe it is my duty — my duty to level with you, to tell the truth no matter how difficult, no matter how painful.
And here, in my view, is what is true: MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people.
They refuse to accept the results of a free election. And they’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections … to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.
MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.
They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.
They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th — brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.
And they see their MAGA failure to stop a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections.
They tried everything last time to nullify the votes of 81 million people. This time, they’re determined to succeed in thwarting the will of the people.
That’s why respected conservatives, like Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Luttig, has called Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans, quote, a “clear and present danger” to our democracy.
But while the threat to American democracy is real, I want to say as clearly as we can: We are not powerless in the face of these threats. We are not bystanders in this ongoing attack on democracy.
There are far more Americans — far more Americans from every — from every background and belief who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it. (Applause.)
And, folks, it is within our power, it’s in our hands — yours and mine — to stop the assault on American democracy.
I believe America is at an inflection point — one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s to come after.
And now America must choose: to move forward or to move backwards?
… MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.
But together — together, we can choose a different path. We can choose a better path….
I know this nation. I know you, the American people….
This is a nation that honors our Constitution. We do not reject it. (Applause.)
This is a nation that believes in the rule of law. We do not repudiate it. (Applause.)
This is a nation that respects free and fair elections. We honor the will of the people. We do not deny it. (Applause.)
And this is a nation that rejects violence as a political tool. We do not encourage violence.
We are still an America that believes in honesty and decency and respect for others, patriotism, liberty, justice for all, hope, possibilities.
We are still, at our core, a democracy. (Applause.)
And yet history tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.
For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed, but it’s not.
We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for it — each and every one of us.
That’s why tonight I’m asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology. (Applause.)
We’re all called, by duty and conscience, to confront extremists who will put their own pursuit of power above all else.
Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans: We must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving American democracy than MAGA Republicans are to destroying American democracy. …Today, there are dangers around us we cannot allow to prevail. We hear — you’ve heard it — more and more talk about violence as an acceptable political tool in this country. It’s not. It can never be an acceptable tool.
So I want to say this plain and simple: There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None. Ever. (Applause.)
We saw law enforcement brutally attacked on January the 6th. We’ve seen election officials, poll workers — many of them volunteers of both parties — subjected to intimidation and death threats. And — can you believe it? — FBI agents just doing their job as directed, facing threats to their own lives from their own fellow citizens.
On top of that, there are public figures — today, yesterday, and the day before — predicting and all but calling for mass violence and rioting in the streets.
This is inflammatory. It’s dangerous. It’s against the rule of law. And we, the people, must say: This is not who we are. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American. They’re incompatible. (Applause.)
We can’t allow violence to be normalized in this country. It’s wrong. We each have to reject political violence with — with all the moral clarity and conviction this nation can muster. Now.
We can’t let the integrity of our elections be undermined, for that is a path to chaos.
Look, I know politics can be fierce and mean and nasty in America. I get it. I believe in the give-and-take of politics, in disagreement and debate and dissent.
We’re a big, complicated country. But democracy endures only if we, the people, respect the guardrails of the republic. Only if we, the people, accept the results of free and fair elections. (Applause.) Only if we, the people, see politics not as total war but mediation of our differences.
Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: either they win or they were cheated. And that’s where MAGA Republicans are today. (Applause.)
They don’t understand what every patriotic American knows: You can’t love your country only when you win. (Applause.) It’s fundamental.
American democracy only works if we choose to respect the rule of law and the institutions that were set up in this chamber behind me, only if we respect our legitimate political differences.
I will not stand by and watch — I will not — the will of the American people be overturned by wild conspiracy theories and baseless, evidence-free claims of fraud.
I will not stand by and watch elections in this country stolen by people who simply refuse to accept that they lost. (Applause.)
I will not stand by and watch the most fundamental freedom in this country — the freedom to vote and have your vote counted be taken from you and the American people. (Applause.)
Look, as your President, I will defend our democracy with every fiber of my being, and I’m asking every American to join me. (Applause.)
… MAGA Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and despair. They spread fear and lies — lies told for profit and power.
But I see a very different America… Just look around.
I believed we could lift America from the depths of COVID, so we passed the largest economic recovery package since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And today, America’s economy is faster, stronger than any other advanced nation in the world. (Applause.)
I believed we could build a better America, so we passed the biggest infrastructure investment since President Dwight D. Eisenhower. And we’ve now embarked on a decade of rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, highways, ports, water systems, high-speed Internet, railroads. (Applause.)
I believed we could make America safer, so we passed the most significant gun safety law since President Clinton. (Applause.)
I believed we could go from being the highest cost of prescriptions in the world to making prescription drugs and healthcare more affordable, so we passed the most significant healthcare reforms since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. (Applause.)
And I believed we could create — we could create a clean energy future and save the planet, so we passed the most important climate initiative ever, ever, ever. (Applause.)
… It’s never easy. But we’re proving that in America, no matter how long the road, progress does come. (Applause.)
… We have never fully realized the aspirations of our founding, but every generation has opened those doors a little wider to include more people who have been excluded before….This is the work of democracy…
We can’t afford to leave anyone on the sidelines. We need everyone to do their part. So speak up. Speak out. Get engaged. Vote, vote, vote. (Applause.)
And if we all do our duty — if we do our duty in 2022 and beyond, then ages still to come will say we … kept the faith. We preserved democracy. (Applause.) We heeded … not our worst instincts but our better angels. And we proved that, for all its imperfections, America is still the beacon to the world, an ideal to be realized, a promise to be kept….
We just need to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. The United States of America. (Applause.)