Analysis: Confronting Trump is Biden’s reluctant vocation | national


WASHINGTON (AP) – It might not be the fight he was looking for, but facing Donald Trump is President Joe Biden’s calling.

Biden stepped forward as the guardian of American democracy in a visceral speech Thursday about the horrors of the Jan.6 insurgency that sought to reverse his 2020 election victory. Trump’s refusal to accept the reality of his defeat spawned a conspiracy that nearly broke the nation’s system of government and continues to spread through society a year later.

“I didn’t look for this fight, brought to this Capitol a year ago today, but neither will I back down,” Biden said in his 25-minute address from Statuary Hall, where rioters had roamed. one year earlier. “I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will not allow anyone to put a dagger in the throat of democracy. “

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Yet even in his own narrative, Biden’s presidency was shaped by and in response to his predecessor.

At 75 and mourning the recent death of his adult son, the former vice president has decided to return to public life to fight for “America’s soul” after watching Trump praise him. some of the white supremacists at a violent protest in Charlottesville in 2017 Biden defeated fresher, more popular faces in a controversial 2020 Democratic primary on the promise that he was most capable of overthrowing Trump. And he was sworn in just two weeks after the violent insurgency because he convinced Americans he could turn the page on a turbulent four-year period.

Biden did not mention the former president by name once in Thursday’s remarks. But he launched zingers and reprimands directly targeting Trump and the party that has increasingly molded itself into his image.

Trump, Biden said, is not just a former president, but a loser whose “bruised ego means more to him than our democracy.”

He refuted Trump’s “big lie” – three of them, in fact – and efforts to continue to cast doubt on the conduct of an election that even the attorney general and the former president’s judges have determined to be fair and without serious misconduct.

He poked fun at the self-proclaimed patriotism of those who attacked law enforcement and violated the Capitol, as well as that of the man who inspired them to do so. “You can’t love your country just when you win,” Biden said.

The anniversary marked Biden’s strongest condemnation of his predecessor, after a first year in office spent trying, often unsuccessfully, to avoid talking about “the old guy.”

“I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump,” he said after four weeks in the presidency. “I don’t want to talk about him anymore.

But in the past year, Trump has gone from being a twice indicted pariah to self-proclaimed president-in-exile, with his grip on the GOP stronger now than when he left office. Trump has launched an aggressive campaign to oust the few Republicans willing to condemn him from his party. And he amassed a war chest in a bid to take over the White House in 2024.

It’s a paradox for the president: Biden is often at his best when confronting Trump, but talking about the former president also serves to elevate him in the national conversation.

There may well be a rematch in 2024. Biden, who has said he intends to run for another term, told ABC last month he was even more likely to run again if Trump was on the job. GOP ticket.

But there is a simultaneous effort underway to change the way elections are run, and that could portend a very different dynamic in a contested election next time around.

Republicans in many states are encouraging efforts to influence future elections by installing sympathetic leaders in local electoral posts, and they are supporting some of those who participated in the insurgency for elected office. Democrats, for their part, are pushing voting changes that would seek to undo these GOP efforts and enshrine other long-standing Democratic priorities into law.

The January 6 violence was only a small part of the overall effort by pro-Trump allies to overthrow the election. More than 50 lawsuits have been filed in battlefield states alleging some type of electoral fraud, an attempt that failed after judges appointed to the bench by many different presidents – including Trump himself – dismissed these allegations. The Justice Department has launched an effort to investigate cases of widespread voter fraud, but former Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press there were none. And Trump’s allies have made unfounded accusations about the voting machines used in many states, including bogus claims some were made by a company with ties to Venezuela, among other far-fetched claims now making. the subject of a defamation dispute.

Despite his insistent speech Thursday, Biden and other administration officials generally do not publicly dwell on election conspiracy theories, in part because they fuel the fire. And it is widely expected that, despite Biden’s pledge to help push through voting rights legislation, he won’t come back much more to the events of 2020. His belief is that he’s more likely to win. Trump supporters by governing, and doing it well, by constantly questioning his presidential victory.

As he left the Capitol on Thursday, Biden paused to explain why he decided to criticize Trump so forcefully after walking away from him for so long. “The way you need to heal is to recognize the extent of the injury.”

“We have to face it,” he added. “That’s what great nations do. They face the truth. Do with it. And move on. “

Just as Biden would like to move forward, however, the future of American democracy is now tied to the events of the 2020 election and the ongoing fallout that shows no signs of fading away.


EDITOR’S NOTE – Zeke Miller has been covering the White House for the PA since 2017. Colleen Long has been covering the White House for the PA and led the coverage of the January 6 insurgency and its aftermath.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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