It’s fright month in Joe Biden’s America, folks. Today, January 5, the president will travel to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to mark the third anniversary of the riot on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. He would have done it on the day but the event had to be rescheduled due to an incoming storm. Biden also likes to rest on the weekends.
Still, near the spot where George Washington and his continental army survived the brutal Revolutionary War (winter of 1777-78), the increasingly ethereal forty-sixth president will endeavor to summon the tough ghosts of America’s founding. He will deliver yet another warning about the petrifying threat which “MAGA extremists” (i.e. Donald Trump supporters) pose to the soul of the nation.
According to the Democrats’ preferred narrative, the ugly scenes of January 6 mark the climax of tragedy that was the Trump years
On Monday, in case anybody is struggling to connect the dots, Biden will go on to Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where in 2015 an armed Neo-Nazi lunatic called Dylann Roof killed nine African-American Christians. There, Biden will dwell more on the traumatic and ongoing struggle for American liberty and the petrifying threat that “MAGA extremists.”
Yesterday, Biden released his first campaign advertisement of 2024, which gives us a fair clue of what to expect at Valley Forge: “There’s an extremist movement that does not share the basics beliefs in our democracy,” says Biden over a montage showing disturbing clips of January 6 rioting set against images of decent-looking Democrats queuing up to vote, footage of Martin Luther King and Biden and vice president Kamala Harris looking purposeful in the Oval Office. The accompanying piano chords shift from sinister to rousing.
“History is watching,” says Biden, who loves sprinkling America’s Manifest Destiny on to his lifestory. He may not say “MAGA” or “Trump” today — my bet is he will — but he’s been making the same point, over and over, in the same way for four years. Team Biden wants “Protecting Democracy” to be the leitmotif of his presidency. But it often sounds like an old man repeating himself ad nauseam.
In 2019, announcing his campaign for the presidency, he released a video that began by saying that “Charlottesville Virginia is home to one of the great documents in human history,” referring to the Declaration of Independence. “Charlottesville is also home to a defining moment for this nation in the last few years,” he went on — key change — referring to the notorious clash between a far-right rally and anti-racism protestors in the city in 2015.
In September 1, 2022, Biden delivered that alarming speech on what he called the “sacred ground” of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Backed by bizarro scarlet lighting and two marines, Biden issued an almost martial appeal to “Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans” to unite against Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans’ and “behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.” In other words: support me or you are a MAGA extremist. “You can be pro-America and pro-ex-pro-ex pro-insurrectionist,” he said, stammering again, perhaps as his subconscious rebelled against the cant.
“Throughout our history, America has often made the greatest progress coming out of some of our darkest moments,” said Biden. In the coming days we’ll hear more of that Manichean talk: truth and light (Biden) versus lies and darkness (Trump). Team Biden is desperate to fix January 6 in the collective memory as a day when the holy flame of American freedom was almost extinguished. According to the Democrats’ preferred narrative of recent history, the ugly scenes of January 6 mark the climax of tragedy that was the Trump years; Biden’s victory in 2024, they hope, will be the denouement.
Biden has a strong sense of the tragic and pitches himself as the “Empathizer-in-Chief.” His memoirs, speeches and off-the-cuff remarks are riddled with references or allusions to his understanding of suffering and healing. In the days following the October 7 terror attacks in Israel, when he flew to Tel Aviv and said: “To those who are grieving a child, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, I know you feel like there’s that black hole in the middle of your chest. You feel like you’re being sucked into it. The survivor’s remorse, the anger, the questions of faith in your soul.” He knows of what he speaks. He lost his own wife and daughter to a car crash, he lost his son to brain cancer, his other son has struggled with drug addiction — yet the brave old man keeps fighting and winning for America. He won’t rest until the battle against tyrannical Trumpism is won.
Yet Donald Trump and his supporters have their own compelling heroic narrative of three parts: the shock triumph in 2016, the deep-state strike back in 2020 and then the great reckoning of 2024, when patriotic defenders of the constitutional Republic will at last vanquish the enemies of freedom who pretend to be protecting democracy.
As evidence of their righteousness and the wickedness of their enemies, Trump supporters point towards the violent and Democrat-backed riots of the Black Lives Matter, the legal persecution of the Donald in the courts and the “rigged election” election four years ago. Biden calls this all a “wild conspiracy theory” and, yes, there’s plenty of that in right-wing circles. But then, if democracy is so sacrosanct, why is there such a broad, Democrat-led legal attempt to stop Trump running on just about any conceivable charge?
January 6 was appalling but it was not an “insurrection” by any reasonable definition — the only person who was killed that day was a protestor, a woman called Ashley Babbitt. The vast majority of protestors clearly had no idea what they were doing. Biden’s attempt to memorialize January 6 as the terrifying day the American dream so nearly died is as cynical as it is bogus. If history is watching, how will it review his version of the last eight years?
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.