Reviews | Biden’s reaction to the Highland Park shooting lacked passion
Biden’s tough rhetoric often lasts no more than one speech (e.g., his Atlantic speech scolding Georgia’s voting restrictions, his White House speech decrying the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas) before that he reverts to speaking in pale pastels. His thirst for bipartisanship, honed by limited success on guns and uncontroversial infrastructure deals, seems to have sapped him from the righteous wrath our times demand.
Biden’s initial reaction to the July 4 shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, was illustrative. Granted, he was speaking to military families on a holiday, but his words on Monday afternoon hit the wrong note. “You all heard what happened today,” he said, without even using the word “shooting” or mentioning the location. He continued, “I know many Americans look around today and see a country divided and are deeply concerned about it. I understand. But I believe that we are more united than divided.
In fact, we are more divided than ever — and more and more thanks to the Supreme Court. And the concern is not that we are divided, but that our democracy is in danger.
Biden’s written remarks were dark and heartfelt, but devoid of anger. “Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has once again caused heartbreak in an American community on this Independence Day,” the statement read. “As always, we are grateful to the first responders and law enforcement at the scene.” He noted the gun reforms he recently signed into law and humbly offered that “there’s still a lot of work to do, and I’m not going to give up on the fight against the epidemic of gun violence.” It sounded depressed, not defiant.
The murmurs of discontent running through the Democratic Party stem in part from a sense that its serene, platitudinous language and reluctance to fully denounce the GOP only downplays the dangers we face and disguises the extremism of opponents of democracy. Whether it’s his reflexive opposition to court reform or his characterization of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as being “rational” on guns, Biden’s responses don’t not match the level of fear, frustration and anger that millions of Americans feel. .
Democrats cheered when Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (D) said following the July 4 massacre: “If you’re angry today, I’m here to tell you: be angry. I am furious. I am furious that even more innocent lives have been taken by gun violence. He continued: “While we only celebrate the 4th of July once a year, mass shootings have become our weekly American tradition – yes, weekly.” He added: “There will be people who will say that today is not the day, that this is not the time to talk about guns. I tell you that there is no better day and better time than here and now. This this is how a leader speaks.
Certainly, the country does not need an alarmist president. But for those on the front lines fighting for democracy, racial justice, women’s empowerment and an end to gun violence, innocuous statements and scathing anthems to bipartisanship reinforce a sense that Biden is out of touch and unprepared to “to fight for the soul of our nation”. .”
Instead, the White House seems to suffer from the mentality that defending Democrats equals Trumpism on the left. Cedric L. Richmond, a former Democratic representative from Louisiana who left his seat to work in Biden’s White House, recently told CNN, “The country didn’t elect Joe Biden because they wanted a Donald Democrat Trump goes out there every day and further divides the country. In Richmond’s mind, demanding that Biden speak out more aggressively is “the same madness that got us Donald Trump.”
It’s just silly. It shows a complete lack of appreciation for the nature of the GOP and the critical need to mobilize the rest of the country in defense of democratic values. Certainly, the Democrats hope that the rest of the administration does not buy into it.
Ironically, Democrats currently have the upper hand on some of the most important issues, including gun safety and abortion. It’s obvious that McConnell desperately wants to change the subject. (Remember when “cultural issues” were losers for Democrats?) That’s because these issues drive millions of voters, especially suburbanites and women.
Unlike Biden, Democrats up and down the ballot seem to recognize that we are at an inflection point. Rather than waiting for directives from the president or a unified message from advocacy groups, they should continue doing precisely what they started: highlighting the cruelty, extremism and ineptitude of their opponents. Running on women’s empowerment and ending senseless gun violence. Put initiatives on the ballot to draw voters to the polls. Condemn a radical, out-of-control Supreme Court and commit to reforming it – through filibuster reform if necessary.
If the president, the leader of his party, can’t channel that and catch the zeitgeist, the party will have to do it without him. If that happens, the feeling that Biden isn’t the man right now will only intensify.