Everybody's getting nervous about Joe Biden. Plus, hate messages aren't unique, unfortunately.
By Gary Abernathy
Democrats growing increasingly nervous about Biden
It’s been noticeable that even some editorial page pundits who were once completely supportive of President Joe Biden have been revealing a level of panic about the president’s standing, and some high-profile members of his party are hedging on whether they support him for a run at a second term.
Recently, the Washington Post asked columnists to weigh in on whether Donald Trump would run again, and a week later they repeated the same exercise with Biden. You can read all the responses here and here. My answer in both cases was yes. Remember, the question wasn’t whether they should run. The exercise was to predict whether they would or not.
Biden’s age seems to show with every public appearance, and he has not been able to unite his party on most of his key policy proposals. Setbacks at the Supreme Court on abortion, the environment and guns have spurred calls from the far left of his party for drastic action that he simply doesn’t have the backing to make happen even if he really wanted to do it.
I see nervousness and worry springing up among various liberal writers who are clearly uneasy with Biden’s performance and the notion of a run for reelection. And two high-profile Democrats recently made news in regard to their support for him.
First came Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York congresswoman who gets way too much attention from the mainstream media. But she was all over the news last month for refusing to commit to supporting Biden in 2024.
Then, on the heels of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade came calls for Hillary Clinton to run again. Clinton has said she won’t, but she also hasn’t been as definitive as she could be, saying in one interview she couldn’t “imagine” running again, and saying she would support Biden if he ran. But a growing chorus of voices is suggesting she should reconsider, and her visibility indicates an ongoing interest in staying in the arena.
Some say Biden may well not run, and he just doesn’t want to say so yet because it would automatically make him a lame duck president. But as I noted in my Post prediction, “Biden’s age notwithstanding — and assuming no drastic health events — voluntarily surrendering the presidency is something few can bring themselves to do. Biden wants to be remembered as more than a caretaker who presided over an awful economy. His ego may pale next to Trump’s, but, like those of most politicians, it’s big enough to keep him in the game.”
I also noted that by 2024, economic conditions may well be better than they are now. Just like Bill Clinton after the 1994 Republican tsunami — he came back to win reelection in 1996 — a midterm GOP takeover might actually help Biden.
Kinzinger shares crass messages. Hey, join the club.
Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans chosen by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Jan. 6 committee, has decided to trot out threatening and vulgar messages he has received. I guess his point is to demonstrate how vulgar Trump supporters can be, and how much blowback he’s getting for serving on the committee.
Here’s a few he rolled out, as reported by The Hill:
“I hope you naturally die as quickly as f—— possible,” one caller said.
“Going to come protest in front of your house this weekend. We know who your family is and we’re going to get you,” another caller said. “Gonna get your wife, gonna get your kids.”
Some of the calls in the compilation did not include a direct threat, but demonstrated the kind of vulgar and angry calls that his office gets.
“You’re the biggest piece of sh— politician in the world. Why don’t you just leave and go away and shut your f—— mouth, you piece of sh—,” one caller said.
I edited a couple of words more completely than The Hill did, by the way. Weird what’s considered too vulgar to publish in full form and what’s not.
I’m sorry anyone receives threatening messages, but it’s hard for me to feel any more sorry for Kinzinger than anyone else in Congress. I can attest from my experience that such messages directed at elected officials aren’t particularly unique to Kinzinger.
And it’s not just officeholders who are targeted. Anyone who publicly takes positions on political issues is fair game. You should read my mail — both hard mail and emails — generated by my Washington Post columns. (I won’t even mention online comment sections.) People even sign their names sometimes. The one I like most is a variation of, “I hope you get covid and die,” which I’ve received from different readers multiple times.
Whenever I write about the need for more civil discourse, I get nice emails like these:
“Talk to Trumpers??? F—- you!!! They have demonstrated a lack of conscience worthy of trump himself. They represent the worst of humanity and deserve slow, agonizingly painful, miserable lives. Come to think of it, so do you mother f——-.”
“U F———- TRUMP-T—— LICKING MAGAT. GO THE F—— BACK TO MAGAT COUNTRY AND SHUT YOUR UNWORTHY PIEHOLE. YOU F——— IMBECILE.”
“F—- you. F—- your beliefs. F—- your political party. F—- all of it. Play nice? Work together? That ship sailed, you sorry sack of sh—.”
Those are just three I looked up quickly that came on the same day. I probably have hundreds like those over the last five years. I’ve also received notes that read more threateningly.
When I still worked at my last newspaper, people would track me down by phone and shout obscenities at me before slamming down the receiver on their end. One caller shouted “F—- you! F—- you! F—- you!” over and over for more than a minute. I listened patiently. He finally hung up, then called again and repeated the exercise. I didn’t hang up. I wanted to see how long he could go. He called a third time, went at it full force, and then gave up. Guess he got tired.
Guess what? I never felt compelled to report them, complain about them, or ask anyone to feel sorry for me. I shrug it off. A portion of both sides of the political aisle is made up of angry, crass and vulgar people. It’s hot in the kitchen.
Talking Hutchinson Jan. 6 testimony with Hoppy Kercheval
“Talkline” host Hoppy Kercheval invited me on last week to discuss Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, giving me a chance to express the same skepticism and concerns I mentioned in a piece here last week, as well as in the Washington Post over the weekend. Check it out below.
Hearings are a scripted show with a political agenda
It was announced Tuesday that the next episode of “The January Sixth Hearings starring Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney” will drop July 12 on multiple networks. Those who miss it live will find it easily on several streaming outlets. Personally, my favorite part of each hearing is at the end, when Liz teases the next episode.
In my latest Washington Post column, I took aim at the tactics of the Jan. 6 committee, which were particularly egregious as they pertained to the hearsay and vague recollections of witness Cassidy Hutchinson.
Never have we seen such a scripted production masquerading as a congressional hearing. Narration and questions are carefully read from a teleprompter. The witnesses even appear to have been coached to pause at specific points to await the next prepackaged query. While chair Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) do the heavy lifting, other committee members sit in zombie-like silence, unless it’s a day designated for one of them to perform, too…
…This week’s hastily presented hearing featuring Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, would have benefited immensely from some cynical inquiry. The nation was presented a gossipy mess of “here’s stuff I heard that Trump did,” some of which was immediately refuted. Yes, Hutchinson was under oath and others weren’t, but even under oath, there is little jeopardy attached to merely recounting what others told you, even if it turns out to be wrong…
…Still, someone on the committee playing the role of skeptic could have perhaps challenged her on the details, as well as another episode wherein she said she personally heard Trump “say something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away.” Her habit of couching her recollected conversations in terms of people saying “something to the effect of” leaves plenty of wiggle room for later revision.
Some stories noted that when Hutchinson testified, the hearing drew about 13.2 million viewers — a “record” for a daytime hearing, and more viewers than all but one game of the NBA Finals. First, we’ve hardly had enough daytime hearings to refer to “records” in viewership. Better to just say it drew the most viewers so far for a daytime hearing. Second, the NBA Finals have been dropping viewers for years, and it’s only on one network, compared to multiple networks and channels carrying the hearings. Viewership for the hearings is actually quite low, considering how accessible they are. As the Los Angeles Times noted, the McCarthy hearings of 1954 drew 80 million viewers, while three out of four Americans watched at least part of the Watergate hearings.
For me, the committee went a long way last week in shedding whatever credibility it may have had at the start. It’s a purely political exercise, a reality TV show packaged as a hearing, attempting to damage both Donald Trump and his party, with an eye on the midterm elections. The New York Times had it right with this headline just before the hearings began: “Jan. 6 Hearings Give Democrats a Chance to Recast Midterm Message.”
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