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Maddow Blog | Railing against Biden’s D-Day rhetoric, right gives away the game

In World
June 10, 2024

In 2017, on the 4th of July, NPR published a series of tweets with the text of the Declaration of Independence. It seemed like a simple, patriotic gesture to help celebrate our Independence Day. A surprising number of Republicans didn’t quite see it that way.

The more NPR published portions of the Declaration of Independence, the more rank-and-file conservatives — who apparently didn’t recognize the words of the document — assumed that the media outlet was publishing anti-Trump “propaganda.”

“A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people,” one tweet read, sparking particular outrage from the right, who assumed the missive was directed at the then-Republican president.

It was an early reminder, just six months into Donald Trump’s term, that many of his followers, when confronted with core American principles, would simply assume they were anti-Trump criticisms.

In 2016, for example, Barack Obama spoke at an event at Pearl Harbor and told attendees, “Even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different.” Trump, naturally, assumed the Democratic president was directing the comments at him.

Five years later, George W. Bush delivered remarks in Pennsylvania, from the field where Flight 93 crashed. “A malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures,” the former president said. “So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment.” Trump also saw this as a personal attack, too.

And while there were plenty of other similar examples, the issue returned to the fore late last week when President Joe Biden delivered a pair of speeches in France in recognition of the anniversary of D-Day. The incumbent Democrat did not utter his predecessor’s name, but Biden did celebrate democracy and U.S. alliances, while condemning tyranny, authoritarianism, and isolationism.

Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida called the remarks “disgusting.” A Fox Business host also accused the Democrat of “taking veiled shots” at Trump. As New York magazine’s Jon Chait noted, some other prominent voices from conservative media had similar reactions.

As we discussed last week, I’m mindful of the circumstances. In the United States, it’s an election season and the incumbent president is poised to be on the ballot, which he’ll share with his immediate predecessor — who’s increasingly brazen about his overt affinity for authoritarians and authoritarianism. When Biden defends and celebrates democracy, his words do not exist in a political vacuum; they carry a broader significance.

But given what the Democrat actually said, and the principles the president touted, some on the right are saying more than they intended with their complaints and condemnations of Biden’s inoffensive, patriotic rhetoric.

This post updates our related earlier coverage.

This article was originally published on MSNBC.com

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