Alan Zendell, January 6, 2022
On a day when our president spoke so eloquently and forcefully about saving our country, I feel compelled to write about him. I’ve been a fan of Joe Biden for fifty years, because he always struck me as honest and dedicated to serving his country more than enriching himself. I haven’t always agreed with him – I’m still upset about Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings and the way Anita Hill was mistreated by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It wasn’t Biden’s fault, but I always wondered why as Chairman, he didn’t intervene on her behalf.
On the other hand, although I’d have preferred a face-to-face public acknowledgement that he might done better for her, in 2020 she was very clear that the choice between Biden and Trump was a no-brainer. Whatever may have happened thirty years ago, she cast her vote for Joe. In an era when sexual harassment and abusing women has become a cause celebre on a daily basis, Ms. Hill was stating the obvious. No right-thinking woman, especially a professional woman of color would ever vote for an immoral predator who treats women as playthings, especially when the alternative is a highly moral man who values women for who they are. If you don’t believe me, just ask Doctor Jill.
Today, in a twenty-five-minute address to the nation, Biden showed us who he is. After a full year in office during which Trump’s carefully orchestrated campaign of lies and libel characterizing the president as senile, weak, dishonest, and corrupt was on display every day, Joe Biden put the lie to all of that. He was strong, he was tough, he sounded fully in control and very comfortable in his own skin. Compare that with Trump, who was incapable of giving a speech without descending into adolescent name-calling and childish nicknames.
Whenever Trump speaks, he sounds like a semi-literate schoolyard bully rallying his cowardly, insecure followers to pick on that day’s victim. When Biden speaks, he treats everyone with dignity and respect, a personal trait and leadership skill that served him well all his political life. As directly as he attacked Trump, this morning, he never succumbed to the crude, vulgar slander that is Trump’s hallmark. As much as President Biden clearly despises what Trump stands for, if not the man himself, he never addressed him by name, always giving him the respect of the office he held, referring to him as “the former president.”
Moral leadership is Biden’s trademark, but today’s speech was about forcefully and fairly throwing down the gauntlet to those who have supported Trump’s campaign of lies, especially those in Congress and the media who conspired to execute the January 6, 2020 attack on the Capitol, and possibly, had the lynch mob been able to find him, Vice President Pence. Today was about telling the truth about the insurrection and the efforts of many Republicans to undermine the constitutional guarantee that every American citizen shall have the right to vote and have his or her voice counted. Today was the opening salvo in an all-out assault on those who would turn our democracy into an autocracy, with an insane sociopath in charge.
President Joe spoke with strength and determination. He was passionate, and he was angry, though he suppressed the latter most of time. He let it show when he talked about the police who guarded our Congress during the attack. He let it show when he mourned the loss of life among the defenders of the Capitol. And he let it show when he accurately described Donald Trump as a man who always put personal power and profit ahead of his responsibilities as president, and Trump’s dereliction of duty. He didn’t mention the unnecessary deaths of more than a half million Americans that could have been avoided if Trump cared enough to tell the truth about the pandemic from the start. He couldn’t allow even so heinous a crime to dilute the focus of his main message.
In case you missed it, that message was that democracy is teetering on the edge of an abyss, and if the people who would destroy it for their own benefit are not stopped and brought to justice, we could lose it. In the context of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s address the day before, Biden issued a stark warning that he will not rest until every perpetrator and collaborator gets what they deserve. He presented evidence to support every charge he made, and he managed to be compassionate, too, something of which his predecessor was incapable. I cannot imagine any American who values our heritage not being inspired by his message.
President Joe’s number one priority is passing a voting rights bill that will undo the damage being done by Republican controlled legislatures that are attempting to undermine our elections with naked partisanship. That should be the priority of every American. It’s time millions of us flooded Joe Manchin’s inbox with appeals to his better nature.