Joe Biden, LBJ Library
President Joe Biden.

The commander in chief did not mince words in his speech marking the anniversary of the January 6 assault on the Capitol.

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On the eve of the third anniversary of the insurrection that Donald Trump inspired, President Joe Biden took several swings at his predecessor in a combative speech that focused on one of the main themes of the 2024 presidential election: democracy (and whether it is worth surrendering it to an authoritarian with a dictator fetish). 

“Today, we’re here to answer the most important of questions. Is democracy still America’s sacred cause? I mean it,” Biden said in Blue Bell, PA. “This is not rhetorical, academic or hypothetical. Whether democracy is still America’s sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time. And it’s what the 2024 election is all about.”

It is a valid question. Based on no evidence apart from Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that he lost in 2020, a majority of Republicans believes the election was somehow stolen. Never mind that the former president lost recount after recount and court case after court case. 

“Trump exhausted every legal avenue available to him to overturn the election,” Biden said. “Every one; but the legal path just took Trump back to the truth, that I’d won the election and he was a loser.”

The tone and tenor of the speech were interesting because the commander in chief did not mince words. This is an issue that is clearly very dear to him, both generally and personally. After all, Trump tried to stage a coup to steal the election Biden won, and the violent assault on Congress, where Biden served for decades, also hit home for the president. 

Those who think he should directly engage and attack his predecessor will be delighted by this speech. Time and again, Biden went after Trump, mocked him, and called him out. 

Noting that more than 140 police officers were injured during the insurrection, and that he and the first lady attended the funeral of police officers who died as a result of the events of January 6, Biden said they died because “Donald Trump’s lies … brought a mob to Washington.”

The president noted that, after riling up his supporters, Trump “left the dirty work to others” and “retreated to the White House.”

Biden said that the former president could have told his supporters to stand down at any point but did not do anything but watch for hours. 

Now, the commander in chief charged, Trump and his allies are trying to once again create an alternate and false version of what happened that day. 

“In trying to rewrite the facts of January 6th, Trump was trying to steal history, the same way he tried to steal the election,” Biden said. “But we knew the truth, because we saw it with our own eyes. … Trump’s mob wasn’t a peaceful protest. It was a violent assault. They were insurrectionists, not patriots. They weren’t there to uphold the Constitution. They were there to destroy the Constitution.”

Part of Trump’s success is that his opponents let him get away with too many lies, but Biden showed that he is unwilling to do that in this case. Based on this speech, we can expect many ads later this year replaying scenes of January 6 and the violent assault on Congress. 

Another thing that was noteworthy is that Biden also called out Fox News for aiding Trump in spreading his election lies, pointing out that the right-wing network was forced to pay $787 million to settle a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems. 

Still, Biden’s sharpest criticism was reserved for his predecessor, whom he said “placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy.”

“We all know who Donald Trump is,” Biden said. “The question we have to answer is who are we? That’s what’s at stake. Who are we?”


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