Apparently, President Joe Biden’s White House isn’t just content to try and stick Republicans with the “ultra-MAGA” label.
That stupid phrase — a warmed-over, 2022 version of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 “basket of deplorables” insult, trotted out by the administration after six months of focus-group research by a liberal organization, according to Fox News — would have been laughable if it weren’t so inflammatory, stoking division at the same time the White House was trying to paint its ideological adversaries as being the divisive ones.
But no — the Biden administration isn’t going to stop there. According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, no less than five Republicans represent “threats against our democracy,” who are carrying out an “attack of our core values as a country.”
Jean-Pierre made the remarks Wednesday when she was asked by a reporter about Republican criticism that Biden “ran as a uniter and now he’s calling MAGA Republicans, which is a very large swath of the American populace, semi-fascists.”
The reporter was referring to Biden’s overwrought speech in Maryland last Thursday, in which he claimed the GOP was flirting with “semi-fascism” and said that Democrats needed “to vote to literally save democracy once again.”
Yes, democracy is “literally” at stake — “once again!” Of course, Biden may be one of the worst abusers of the postmodern linguistic trend of using the word “literally” when one actually means “figuratively,” but here he seems to literally be using it to convey the literal warning that, if the Democrats don’t win in November — or at least don’t lose that badly — the (figurative) thread that democracy is hanging on will snap for good.
On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre seemed to acknowledge that Biden wasn’t talking figuratively when he said the GOP was engaged in “semi-fascism,” noting five Republicans who were “threats” — Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and (if you even needed to ask) former President Donald Trump.
All of them, Jean-Pierre said, were part of the “extreme wing” of the Republican Party.
“You have Rep. Paul Gosar, has posted videos depicting him attacking the president and members of Congress,” Jean-Pierre said, reading from her notebook (clearly, she’d planned to make the point).
“You have Rep. Majority Tay- — Marjorie Taylor Greene has publicly expressed support for shooting prominent Democratic elected officials and suggesting physically assaulting transgender school officials.
“You have Rep. Madison Cawthorn, has said, falsely, ‘If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it’s going to lead to one place, and that’s bloodshed,'” she continued. “And just last week, you had Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested that Dr. Fauci should be physically assaulted. And former President Trump has done the same many, many times. “
She went on to say that “many of your colleagues have actually talked about and reported on this dangerous trend that we’re seeing” and that “these are things that we have to call out.”
The majority of this, of course, is either disingenuous, false or blown out of proportion.
In fact, it’s probably easier to point out the truths in Jean-Pierre’s defense of Biden’s characterizing the GOP as flirting with “semi-fascism.”
Yes, Paul Gosar tweeted a poorly considered, poorly edited anime video in which his face was badly superimposed on a character from the series “Attack on Titan” who attacks other characters with the faces of Democratic politicians like Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
The attack got him censured by the House in November. He was also stripped of his committee assignments. Not only did this make the meme profoundly counterproductive, it also doesn’t seem to have substantively threatened democracy in any way.
As for “Majority” Taylor Greene (hey, at least KJP remembered some of her name — unlike Biden himself, who spaced on it when attacking Greene last week), Jean-Pierre seems to be referring to two separate incidents, neither of which are new and both of which have been blown up far beyond reasonable proportions.
First, during the 2020 election, Greene posted an image of herself holding a rifle with three members of the so-called leftist “squad” in the background: Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Needless to say, it got reactions like this, which mostly emphasized the color of the women involved:
A House candidate whom President Trump recently called “a future Republican Star” posted an image of herself holding a rifle with photos of three liberal congresswomen of color and the vow to “go on the offense” against members of the “Squad, pic.twitter.com/AZ7lL4bq7n
— Auntie Mame (@nitagale) January 29, 2021
Then, in 2021, it emerged that Green’s social media posts from 2018 and 2019 included what CNN called “support for executing prominent Democrats.” This “support” included flippant remarks like this one about getting Nancy Pelosi out of office: “a bullet to the head would be quicker.”
Greene didn’t publicize these remarks — in fact, she apologized for her social media posts — but stupid things someone said on Facebook before they became an elected official apparently remain a threat against our democracy. She has also lost of her committee assignments.
That’s really about the only unalloyed — if somewhat exaggerated — truth in Jean-Pierre’s attempt to prove these five Republicans are literal threats to our republic.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, for instance, won’t be an elected official come Jan. 3, 2023. The North Carolina Republican lost his May 17 primary after a pattern of erratic behavior and a series of embarrassing pictures and videos were uncovered by a PAC dedicated to unseating him from office.
Since the loss, Cawthorn’s behavior has remained erratic. In a May 19 Instagram rant, he talked about how it was “time for Dark MAGA to truly take command.”
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, fresh off his GOP primary loss, is on Instagram calling for his supporters to rally around…
:: checks notes ::
…“Dark MAGA”? pic.twitter.com/EqsmexlHS7
— Jack Jenkins (@jackmjenkins) May 19, 2022
It’s unclear what “Dark MAGA” is and the intervening months haven’t provided much insight — but it’s safe to say Cawthorn could use a nice, long vacation before he thinks about returning to electoral politics. Whatever the case, you’re not exactly talking about someone the GOP is rallying around right now.
As for Gov. DeSantis and his “suggest[ion] that Dr. Fauci should be physically assaulted,” here you go:
DeSantis on Fauci: “I’m just sick of seeing him. I know he says he’s gonna retire. Someone needs to grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac!”pic.twitter.com/LeCPGVsyzK
— Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) August 24, 2022
“Someone needs to grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac,” DeSantis said during a Florida news conference last week.
If and when the elf-chucking starts, I will be duly chastened and apologize for my naïveté. Until then, I’m pretty convinced no one’s going to be pitching Fauci over D.C.’s Potomac River.
Who could even come close? Paul Bunyan’s the only guy I can think of, and I hear he’s a) mythological; b) a registered Democrat (that ox is blue, isn’t it?); and c) a mask Karen. (Modern folkloric reports have Bunyan complaining there were no facial-coverings suitable for a 100-foot tall lumberjack.)
And then there’s Donald Trump, who “has done the same many, many times.” What, threatened to chuck Fauci over the Potomac? That’s a new one.
Of course, it seems oddly felicitous that these are the individuals the White House would choose to highlight the “semi-fascism” of the GOP: two representatives who have been stripped of their committee assignments by the Democratic-controlled House, one who has been made a lame duck by Republican voters in his district due to a series of dodgy incidents … and the two men who are most likely to face whoever the Democrats nominate for president in 2024.
Weird how those turn out to be the biggest GOP “threats against our democracy.” It’s almost like the White House planned it that way.
Don’t expect the Biden administration to call this actual threats to democracy, like, say, leftists harassing politicians they don’t like, or Supreme Court justices in their homes, or things along those lines.
Remember this one from the Trump years?
— Lawyerforlaws (@lawyer4laws) August 28, 2020
Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters’ 2018 incitement of harassment against Trump administration officials? No condemnation there. An elf-chucking joke regarding Dr. Anthony Fauci? Threat against our democracy.
The double-standard would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
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