Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle argued on Monday that President Biden’s recent remarks calling out “MAGA Republicans” were “recklessly cavalier” and “unpatriotic.”
“It is the president and his advisers who are being recklessly cavalier, performing for their donor base and their followers on social media rather than undertaking the hard, patient work of actually rebuilding our frayed social norms. This is self-indulgent and, dare I say it, even a bit unpatriotic,” McArdle wrote after emphasizing that she takes American democracy “very seriously.”
The Washington Post columnist added that she doesn’t believe the Biden administration’s language was going to help win elections.
“If Biden wanted to shore up our democratic institutions, he would have given an uplifting nonpartisan address, avoiding the ordinary political issues that divide us and making at least glancing reference to his own side’s lesser-but-still-worrying flirtations with denying the legitimacy of elections. Instead, he called out Republicans by name, and by themselves, and then dragged in the standard culture-war fodder of any Democratic campaign speech,” she said.
During a campaign-style speech in Philadelphia, Biden argued that “MAGA Republicans” are a threat to democracy.
“As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise,” he said. “There’s 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.”
McArdle argued that Biden’s “campaign fodder” didn’t address what voters care about the most, such as jobs and inflation.
“I’m sure that this all seemed like sly political genius to whatever guru thought it up. But there’s a steep cost. This kind of rhetorical stakes-raising is exactly what stokes antidemocratic sentiment on both right and left: If America is facing an existential threat rather than more ordinary squabbles over policy, well, can we really afford the usual procedural niceties?” McArdle contended.
McArdle wondered why the Biden administration was not sticking to his “make America normal again” playbook from 2020. “Trump is an incorrigible chaos muppet,” she said, adding that “Democrats make a pleasant contrast just by staying sane.”
She argued that it was not a winning message and was also “bad” because “people who role-play in more interesting historical eras tend to lose track of more prosaic realities.”
“The folks who staged Biden’s Philadelphia speech ended up producing an almost Trumpian spectacle: an incongruous mixture of the apocalyptic and banal, delivered in front of blood-red spotlights that made Biden look as though he was campaigning for Lord of the Underworld. Biden should thank his lucky stars that the networks declined to carry it — and, therefore, that he still has time to bring back good, old, normal Uncle Joe,” she concluded.
During a speech on Labor Day, Biden called out “MAGA” Republican members of Congress.
“I want to be very clear up front, not every Republican is a MAGA Republican. Not every Republican embraces that extreme ideology,” Biden told supporters at a rally in Milwaukee. “I know because I’ve been able to work with mainstream Republicans in my whole career.”
“But the extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress have chosen to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate and division,” he continued.