Former President Donald Trump lashed out at President Joe Biden following the latter’s speech on Thursday night criticizing the far right MAGA movement for destroying democratic norms in the U.S.
“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,” Trump said on his Truth Social site.
Despite Trump’s misleading characterization of Biden’s comments, the president never suggested in his speech that Trump loyalists should be arrested, much less face military action for their ideals.
Trump also attacked Biden by saying he looked “insane” or was suffering from the effects of dementia during his speech — a common talking point amongst his followers that has no basis in fact.
Other Republicans also blasted Biden’s speech, which the president presented as an attempt to reclaim America’s soul.
“With all due respect Mr. President, there’s nothing wrong with America’s soul,” Trump loyalist Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said, telling Biden to “stop lecturing” the nation on the subject.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) gave a “pre-buttal” to Biden’s speech before it was delivered, demanding that the “first lines out of his mouth” should be an apology to MAGA-aligned Republicans, which Biden had described as “semi-fascist” earlier this week.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) tweeted a disturbing video criticizing the lighting of Biden’s speech, doctoring the footage to include Nazi imagery and adding a Hitler-esque mustache to the president’s face.
“I guess when President Butterbeans is frail, weak, and dementia ridden, the Hitler imagery was their attempt to make him look ‘tough’ while he declares war on half of America as enemies of the state,” Greene tweeted.
In reality, Biden took great pains to describe whom specifically he was criticizing.
“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,” he said, adding that “not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans.”
He then further explained what he meant by “MAGA Republicans”:
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 in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.
Trump and his MAGA followers “look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6…not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger at the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots,” Biden said. “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.”
Many political observers and historians praised the speech, with presidential historian Michael Beschloss comparing it in one tweet to Franklin Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech from 1941, which also warned about threats to democracy.
Remarking on Biden’s statement that there is “no place for political violence in America,” Beschloss said it’s “horrifying that a President has to say this, and that this statement will be controversial.”
Others similarly praised Biden’s speech.
“I’ve been losing sleep because nobody seems to want to step up and confront the rise of fascism. Joe is doing it now, big time, with no equivocating,” said commentator Charles Johnson.
Many observers noted that Biden should take actions to defend democracy in the U.S.
“Biden is rightly warning about the threat to democracy, but somehow not willing to fight to expand a court that’s destroying democracy,” said journalist David Sirota. “Now is actually the best time in history to make the case that the court must be expanded, because people hate the court.”