Rarely do I post the same columnist two days in a row, but Charles P. Pierce deserves it.
Not to employ yet another cliche that was devalued under the previous administration*, but Thursday was the day that Joe Biden became president. He became president because he called out his predecessor for the threat to the American republic that he continues to be, and, just as important, he arraigned the political party from which this presidential* thuggery emerged.
A president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transition of power as a violent mob reached the Capitol. But they failed. We saw with our own eyes: rioters menaced these halls, threatening the life of the Speaker of the House, directing to hang the Vice President of the United States of America. What did we not see? We did not see a former president, who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in a private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives at risk, the national Capitol under siege.
At the beginning of his speech, the president shouted out our old pal Clio, Muse of History, also known by her MCU superhero identity, The Proclaimer (!), who must have been scribbling furiously during this peroration.
We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. And here is the truth: the former President of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He has done so because he values power over principle. Because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest, then America’s first. And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He cannot accept he lost. Even after what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said. He lost. That is what 81 million of you did as you voted for a new way forward. He has done what no president in American history, the history of this country, has ever done. He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people. Some courageous men and women in the Republican Party are standing against it. Too many others are transforming that party into something else.
This was unprecedented in my lifetime, but it was so obviously richly deserved that the inevitable struck-dog yelping from the targets of his wrath seem like voices from another time and place, a time and a place before the artificial “unity” and “civility” that so enervated our politics was shown so vividly to be an impotent, cowardly dumbshow. Speaking of which, here’s Senator Lindsey Graham on the electric Twitter machine:
What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden. I wonder if the Taliban who now rule Afghanistan with al-Qaeda elements present, contrary to President Biden’s beliefs, are allowing this speech to be carried?
Was the speech political? Of course, it was. The violence of a year ago was political violence with a distinctly political goal. The president’s trade is politics. What did people expect, a novena?
Was the speech divisive? God, I hope so. It should have been. There should be a division between democratic self-government and the violence of the mob. That division should be stark. That division should be permanent—or, at least, it should continue to exist until political violence again is delegitimized. It was a political and divisive speech, and I thank god for it. It was also a challenge to people in my business—and to all American citizens—to take seriously the continuing peril to the republic. From Mt. Helicon, Clio is watching, and she takes no mess.
And about damn time, too.
You can almost hear the quavering whine in Lindsey Graham’s twitterpation, which is a tell that he knows he’s facing down the goddam truth and squealing like a stuck pig that it’s political and divisive — as if the insurrection wasn’t? — is the equivalent of a kid caught filching cookies. And his toadying to Trump and the base that supports him is not just embarrassing for him, it is a threat to any semblance of justice.