President Joe Biden delivered a landmark speech Thursday night, warning of the perils of political violence and squarely identifying the threat “MAGA Republicans” pose to the Republic.
Right-wing figures, sobered by the message and compelled, for the first time, to introspection, disavowed their old ways, condemned the Republican Party’s creep into authoritarianism and thrust Donald Trump from his golden throne.
Adopting the argument favored by five-year-olds the world over, these Trumpist characters rebutted that “no, you’re the fascist,” lamenting the speech as snuffing out the last gasp of American freedom delivered by a deranged dictator poised to kill people and stomp out their rights…or something.
On the one hand, they sought to paint Biden as a brutally dangerous tyrant.
“President Biden tonight gave the speech of a dictator in the style of a dictator in the visual of a dictator using the words of a dictator,” said former Trump White House aide Stephen Miller.
The “outrageous” speech was delivered before a “blood-red Nazi background,” said a scowling Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
“A speech that denigrates those that didn’t vote for him as [sic] a threat to democracy and the rule of law,” chimed in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ deputy press secretary, photoshopping a hammer and sickle onto Biden’s lectern.
But they also built atop the years of work they’ve done to paint Biden as rapidly aging and losing his grip on reality.
“If you look at the words and meaning of the awkward and angry Biden speech tonight, he threatened America, including with the possible use of military force. He must be insane, or suffering from late stage dementia!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
“Joe Biden’s hate-filled and menacing rhetoric tonight was disgraceful. His behavior is increasingly erratic. And his threats against half the country – his fellow citizens – are dangerous,” added Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). (Yes: that Josh Hawley.)
Others chose to come at the target more obliquely, proclaiming horror at…Biden’s lighting setup.
“The hateful and despicable attack on America given by Biden last night appeared to be given from a basement in Hell,” Rudy Guiliani said of Philadelphia’s famous and historic Independence Hall.
“I mean, just the setting is frightening,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. “It’s just dark.”
“This is parodically bad imagistics for a president,” Ben Shapiro bemoaned. “It’s as though a bunch of meme-addled morons decided to reify a Dark Biden image in the hopes that it would somehow make him look powerful and cool, rather than demagogic and demonic.”
The MAGA mindset requires its adherents to cry victimhood at every turn. The formula is well established and versatile, and provides a blueprint for quick post-event reactions. While mainstream media outlets wrung their hands over the “political” nature of the speech, right-wingers had already moved on to predicting mayhem and bloodshed at the hands of the “demagogic and demonic” Joe Biden.