Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks yesterday on the Senate floor regarding President Biden’s speech in Atlanta the day before. In part, McConnell fact-checks Biden. In part, he criticizes the sense and sensibility of Biden’s remarks. I think McConnell’s speech is as good or better than any of the columns I have seen exposing the disgusting demagogy and outrageous falsehoods of Biden’s speech.
McConnell’s staff emailed the text out under the heading “Profoundly Unpresidential” with this pull quote: “The President’s rant yesterday was incorrect, incoherent, and beneath his office… A President shouting that 52 Senators and millions of Americans are racist unless he gets whatever he wants is proving exactly why the Framers built the Senate to check his power. This whole display is the best possible argument for preserving the Senate rules that extend deliberation, force bipartisan compromise, and let cooler heads prevail. Nothing proves it better than this episode.” These are McConnell’s remarks as emailed to us yesterday afternoon:
Twelve months ago, a newly-inaugurated President Biden stood on the West Front of the Capitol and said this: “My whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, and uniting our nation.” Yesterday, the same man delivered a deliberately divisive speech that was designed to pull our country farther apart.
Twelve months ago, this President said we should “see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors.” Yesterday, he called millions of Americans his domestic “enemies.”
Twelve months ago, this President called on Americans to “join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.” Yesterday, he shouted that if you disagree with him, you’re George Wallace. If you don’t pass the laws he wants, you’re Bull Connor. And if you oppose giving Democrats untrammeled one-party control of the country, well, you’re Jefferson Davis.
Twelve months ago, this President said that ‘disagreement must not lead to disunion.’ But, yesterday, he invoked the bloody disunion of the Civil War to demonize Americans who disagree with him. He compared a bipartisan majority of Senators to literal traitors.
How profoundly unpresidential.
I have known, liked, and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man at that podium yesterday.
American voters did not give President Biden a mandate for very much. He got a tied Senate and negative coattails in the House. The narrowest majorities in over a century.
This President did not get a mandate to transform America or reshape society. But he did arguably did get a mandate to do the one central thing he campaigned on: Bridge a divided country. Lower the temperature. Dial down the perpetual air of crisis in our politics.
That is the one central promise that Joe Biden made. It is the one job citizens actually hired him to do. It is the one project that would have actually been consistent with the Congress that voters elected.
President Biden has chosen to fail his own test.
The President’s rant yesterday was incorrect, incoherent, and beneath his office.
He used the phrase ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ to demagogue a law that makes the franchise more accessible than in his own state of Delaware. He blasted Georgia’s procedures regarding local elections officials while pushing national legislation with almost identical language on that issue.
The President implied things like widely-popular voter I.D. laws are ‘totalitarian’ on the same day Washington D.C.’s Democratic mayor told citizens to bring both a photo I.D. and a vaccine card anytime they leave their house.
The President repeatedly invoked the January 6th riot while himself using irresponsible, delegitimizing rhetoric that undermines our democracy.
The sitting President of the United States of America compared American states to ‘totalitarian states.’ He said our country will be an ‘autocracy’ if he does not get his way.
The world saw our sitting Commander-in-Chief propagandize against his own country to a degree that would have made Pravda blush.
There was no consistent standard behind anything the President said. He trampled through some of the most sensitive and sacred parts of our nation’s past. He invoked times when activists bled, and when soldiers died. All to demagogue voting laws that are more expansive than what Democrats have in his own home state.
Georgia has more days of early voting than Delaware or New York. Georgia has no-excuse absentee voting which Delaware and New York do not have. If Georgia or Texas present Jim Crow emergencies, then so do a whole lot of Democrat-run states.
The Senate Democratic Leader is going on cable TV and saying Georgia is ‘greatly restricting or eliminating early voting.’ This is a lie. Provably false. Georgia has more early voting than New York.
The Democratic Leader has tried to fearmonger about one rural Georgia county that condensed multiple voting locations into one. Well, this county is overwhelmingly red! They were clearly not involved in trying to suppress Democratic votes. 70% Republican in that one county in 2020.
Take a step back for one minute. President Biden’s story is that democracy is on death’s door… but he spent nine months chasing a reckless taxing and spending spree before addressing it? It must not be that much of an emergency.
Citizens are meant to believe a return of Jim Crow is on the table… but this was only President Biden’s sixth priority, after he was blocked from spending $5 trillion on windmills and welfare?
Democrats’ own behavior refutes their false hysteria.
Twelve months ago, the President said that ‘politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.’ That was just twelve months ago. Yesterday he poured a giant can of gasoline on that fire.
Twelve months ago, the President said ‘every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.’ But yesterday, he said anyone who opposes smashing the Senate and letting Democrats rewrite election law is a domestic ‘enemy’ and a traitor like Jefferson Davis.
One week ago, President Biden gave a January 6th lecture about not stoking political violence. Yesterday, with the world’s largest megaphone, he invoked the literal Civil War and said we are on the doorstep of ‘autocracy.’ He talked about domestic ‘enemies.’
Rhetoric unbecoming of a President of the United States.
In less than a year, ‘restoring the soul of America’ has become: agree with me, or you’re a bigot. From lowering the temperature to invoking totalitarian states and the Civil War.
This inflammatory rhetoric was not an attempt to persuade skeptical Democratic or Republican Senators. In fact, you could not invent a better advertisement for the legislative filibuster than a President abandoning rational persuasion for pure demagoguery.
A President shouting that 52 Senators and millions of Americans are racist unless he gets whatever he wants is proving exactly why the Framers built the Senate to check his power. This whole display is the best possible argument for preserving the Senate rules that extend deliberation, force bipartisan compromise, and let cooler heads prevail. Nothing proves it better than this episode. It offers a perfect case study in why Senator Biden was right about the filibuster and President Biden is wrong.
One respected scholar explained it this way: ‘The smallest majority we’ve ever seen in our politics is trying to change the rules for how people get elected in every state… That’s just about the best argument for the filibuster you could possibly imagine.’
Mr. President — the citizens of the greatest country in the world deserve for their elected officials to treat them like grown-ups. The adults of America deserve to hear from the adults in Washington D.C.
So let me close with some basic truths.
Our country is more divided than we should be. No doubt.
In recent years, I have vocally criticized people across the political spectrum who have sought to legitimize elections when they win and delegitimize democracy when they are polling badly or when they lose.
I criticized top Democrats’ hysteria after 2016, when their rhetoric had 66% of Democrats across America falsely convinced that Russia had hacked our voting machines and changed the tallies.
I criticized Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats who spent the run-up to 2020 hyping conspiracy theories and suggesting the election would be presumptively illegitimate if their side lost it.
In December 2020 and January of last year, our side of the aisle defended our constitutional process despite political pressure and a literal mob.
But now it is President Biden, Leader Schumer, and other Washington Democrats who don’t like their poll numbers. So they are reversing their tune yet again. The people who spent November 2020 through January 2021 preaching sermons about the strength and sanctity of our democracy are now undertaking to delegitimize the next election in case they lose it.
We have a sitting President invoking the Civil War, shouting about totalitarianism, and labeling millions of Americans his domestic “enemies.” We have a Senate Democratic Leader who now frequently calls American elections, a “rigged game.”
Mr. President — this will not be repaired with more lies, more outrage, and more rule-breaking.
Unfortunately, President Biden has rejected the better angels of our nature. So it is the Senate’s responsibility to protect the country.
This institution was constructed as a firewall against exactly this kind of rage and false hysteria. It falls to the Senate to put America on a better track. It falls to us.
So this institution cannot give in to dishonorable tactics. We cannot surrender to recklessness. We have to stand up, stand strong, protect the Senate, and defend our country.