Truth Doesn’t Require An Apology

I fully support civil discourse, compassion, tolerance, kindness, etc., but there comes a time when it is necessary to call a spade a spade.  President Biden did just that earlier this week … he called the far-right Republican movement a ‘threat to democracy’ and ‘semi-fascist’.  Those who are angered by his words should take a long, hard look at what their hopes for the future of this nation are and how they would like to see those hopes achieved.  Charles Blow’s latest OpEd in the New York Times addresses that outrage better than I could (that’s why he gets paid for his opinions and I don’t).

Biden Shouldn’t Apologize to Republicans

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

4 September 2022

Republicans are outraged — or possibly simply pretending to be outraged — that President Biden has, in recent speeches, warned that “MAGA Republicans” are a threat to democracy and, at one point, called the philosophy fueling Trumpism “semi-fascism.”

But there is no scandal here. Biden was simply calling a thing a thing. In fact, I would prefer that he be even more pointed and not try so hard to dodge the charge that he’s casting the net too widely.

Biden first used the term “semi-fascism” two weeks ago, at a Democratic fund-raiser in Maryland, saying: “It’s not just Trump; it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say, something, it’s like semi-fascism.”

Republicans quickly demanded that he apologize for insulting half the electorate. But those Republicans who voted for Donald Trump deserve to be called out for their actions. Trump has consistently exhibited fascist tendencies and espoused racism, misogyny and white nationalism. Republicans supported him, defended him and voted for him. They’ve been actively courting this condemnation.

And yet, ever since the initial brouhaha over his fascism comments, Biden has insisted on walking back his assertion, seemingly determined to distinguish more genteel Republicans from the rest of their party. At a rally in Maryland, shortly after his fund-raiser, Biden said: “I respect conservative Republicans. I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans.”

Personally, I have a very hard time splitting that hair. In 2020, 92 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters backed Trump. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, 73 percent of Republicans still have a favorable opinion of him, and 72 percent want him to run for re-election in 2024.

The overwhelming majority of Republicans support Trump. The pool of respectable conservatives is shallow, and that’s assuming that they can be neatly defined as those not voting for Trump.

Still, it is clear that Biden is sensitive to the criticism, even as he charges ahead with this pointed assessment.

In Biden’s speech in Philadelphia on Thursday, he returned to the idea that “MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.” But he took pains to more clearly separate them from other Republicans, saying that “not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.”

Still, he underscored that “there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.”

Biden was twisting himself into a rhetorical knot when there was no reason to do so. When he said that not even a majority of Republicans are MAGA Republicans, it muddied the waters. What, to Joe Biden, is a MAGA Republican?

On Friday, Biden walked his comments back further still, telling reporters, “I don’t consider any Trump supporter to be a threat to the country.”

He went on to say, “I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, fails to condemn violence when it’s used, refuses to acknowledge an election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which we rule and count votes — that is a threat to democracy.”

Make no mistake: A significant portion of Republican voters have done exactly what Biden has tried to exempt them from having done. A Public Religion Research Institute poll published in November found that nearly a third of Republicans agreed with the statement “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

Also, a later poll found that a quarter of Republicans were adherents of the internet conspiracy theory QAnon and believe that “there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders” and that “a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation” control America’s government, media and financial system.

As PolitiFact noted in June, citing a number of polls, roughly 70 percent of Republicans don’t see Biden as the legitimate winner of the presidency.

Furthermore, a July accounting by FiveThirtyEight found that “halfway through the primary season, we can say definitively that at least 120 election deniers have won their party’s nomination and will be on the ballot in the fall.” Republican voters delivered primary victories to those candidates.

Republicans have a knack for persuading Democrats to pull their punches. It was the same strategy they used against Barack Obama after he said some Americans were “bitter” and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

He was absolutely correct, but in politics, telling the truth can be a sin.

It was the same strategy Republicans used against Hillary Clinton after she said: “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

She was absolutely right. She may have even understated the number.

Democrats have to stop falling for the line that calling out the dangers that some voters present to the country is somehow a divisive, offensive, unfair attack on the innocent. No person who voted for Trump or supports him now is above being named and shamed.

Biden doesn’t owe Republicans an apology; they owe the country an apology.

29 thoughts on “Truth Doesn’t Require An Apology

  1. I agree with everything that you and Charles say. But I think one of the problems if Biden and others are not careful in the language they use is that it could lead to the same problems that it caused Hilary, which I think was a big part of why she lost the election…

    I’d rather have them apologize, but win the election…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I left many of my thoughts on another post, but moved to this one now since folks have likely moved on to the more recent posts.

    Just to be clear: my conservative views would put me squarely in the camp of people you disdain so much in these posts and in the comments section. I am your Huckleberry.

    I seek to engage such folks as you because I am astounded at the lack of introspection and the eagerness with which you blame so many of our problems today solely at the feet of your political opposition.

    I would agree with Mr. Blow on one thing and that is that President Biden and many of you pretend to separate Republicans or non-Republican Trump supporters into respectable and non-respectable camps. Biden said as much in his speech, but then went on to condemn everyone who has a view different than his own, anyone who is not willing to support his agenda appears to be a problem. Mr Blow said as much himself: “The pool of respectable conservatives is shallow, and that’s assuming that they can be neatly defined as those not voting for Trump.”

    I myself am in no way enamored with the Republican party or with President Trump. I recognize many problems with Republican leaders and I recognize many of Trump’s failings. I view President Biden in many of the same ways as I think many of you view President Trump. I think he is corrupt, dishonest and has done an awful job, but I still have respect for the position and authority he holds. I don’t hate my country because I don’t like the current administration. I don’t view Biden as treasonous. I don’t view him as the source of all problems we face today. I don’t measure time by the day he began in office. I don’t see his supporters as mindless Manchurian candidates. I don’t have a rabid hatred for the man. I actually feel sorry for him in many ways. I think he is in over his head and I think he is not qualified for the job given his current state of cognitive decline. I can even see he might have one or two redeeming qualities.

    I see no such moderation when folks on sites like this talk about Republicans and Trump. This is the problem I see. I want what is best for this country and my children’s future. I think it is best that we vote out Democrats in the fall, but I believe in the Democrat process. I don’t want to do it any other way than through that process. Virtually all conservative media and ordinary conservative folks I engage with feel the same. Yet, liberal media and many of you folks appear to see us as the spawn of the devil. You make all sorts of claims about our motivations which are not based in reality.

    The post begins with: “I fully support civil discourse, compassion, tolerance, kindness, etc., ” Yet, I find nothing thereafter to support any of those sentiments. Why say such things if everything which follows says the opposite? I see very little tolerance in these posts and comments for anyone who holds a view different than your own. I am labeled all sorts of horrible things because I espouse certain views, views that are not capricious or laced with bad intent, but based on reason and principle. Folks don’t want to believe that I could have good intentions for thinking what I think, but I do. I want what is best for this country and for us all. You cannot seem to comprehend such a thing is possible.

    I am also not a mindless follower of President Trump, nor do I know any such people. I give him credit for many things, but I also was disappointed in much as well. I see his character flaws, but I still find him a much better president than Biden. I don’t support him for 2024 (there’s one person you said you couldn’t find). I appreciate all he has done and the movement he started, but we need to move on. HIs time has passed and we have better candidates. If he is indeed the candidate in 2024, I will have to support him over Harris, Newsome, or whoever is the alternative, but that doesn’t make me an evil person for supporting him. I just think he is better than the alternative. That’s why we have elections.

    Go ahead and send me your slings and arrows. I speak frankly and as honestly as I can. I know I am not the things I am accused of and I know that the people I know are not either. If you truly want unity, you have to stop assigning the worst of motivations to people with differing views. You cannot possibly reach people with this kind of rhetoric.: We want the country to unite, but we cannot possibly unite with folks like THEM.

    We cannot have two sides labeling each as Nazis and expect to share the same space for any length of time. This kind of awful rhetoric has to stop or there is no hope for this country. All sides need to look in the mirror and ask what they are doing to truly support unity in this country. It is not happening at the moment. I attempt to prick your conscience for just a moment.



  3. I think Biden is doing a fine balancing act—and one that suits his nature. He wants to keep that tenuous olive branch out there even though he knows what he and the country are facing.

    I watched him give a barnburner Labor Day speech in Wisconsin today. He was strong and assertive and wowed the union crowd. As long as he keeps saying “You can’t say you love your country and praise Jan 6…you can’t say you’re pro-democracy and not let people vote,” I think he’s on target.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, and the balancing act is being done from a high wire perilously high above the ground. I cannot remember a time in my life that a president has been as challenged as Biden is. Like you, I think he’s doing a fine job … far better than most could have or would have. Heck, I’d have hung up my hat and gone home by now!


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  5. President Biden did the right thing by calling out the right wing extremists. Things are getting quite crazy over in your part of the world – and sadly, we’re seeing early signs of similar movements over here – and it’s important to take a stand now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ab … I fully agree! Things are getting even crazier than before here, and another of my Canadian friends said that the craziness is “pouring across your border”. As I told her, my apologies on behalf of my country … I wish we could just stop it all right now. I have confidence that you guys have good sense enough to put a stop to the madness before it gets anywhere near as out-of-control as it is here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jill, what concerns me among several things is 2/3 of Republicans believe the bogus election fraud claims of the former president, which he has been woefully unable to prove losing all but one small case out of 65 or so and every recount, audit and review. Further, his AG said his claims were BS after investigation and the head of election security said it was the most secure election in US history. They were both fired for their statements. But, what frustrates me is GOP candidates must conform or be cast out. Democrat candidates also stretch the truth, but the difference here is it is a mainstream party lie that must be upheld to be a viable Republican. Plus, it led to an insurrection by some extremists against a branch of government.

    It saddens be to see the more reasonable GOP candidates lose, retire or have to work extra hard to win. Liz Cheney should win Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for her political courage, yet she got waxed in her reelection bid. That speaks volumes to this independent and former Republican (and Democrat) voter.

    Biden is correct that he has a history of working across the aisle. That may unnerve some folks today, but that is precisely what we need more of and we did see two major pieces of legislation pass two months ago with bipartisan support. I hope that these are the kind of Republicans and Democrats who will win this November. I would like to celebrate things getting done that will help our country rather than address some wedge issues meant to divide us. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • I share your concerns, my friend. It seems that the Republican Party has given up any pretense of being a viable political party and are pulling out all the stops to simply get votes, even if it means they have to tell outrageous lies. And the people who follow them in an almost hypnotic state are concerning as well, for either they are far under educated and cannot study a situation, look for facts, and make a wise decision, or else they are so enamoured of the populist dialog that they have tuned out all else. Either way, they aren’t thinking long-term, but are mired in the immediate.

      Like you, I am saddened to see those who still believe in the country, still believe in Democracy, and haven’t fallen under the Trumpian spell forced out of the GOP. Yes, Liz Cheney was treated abominably, but she knew that would happen and still stood firm in her duty to country. For that, I applaud her, and all the others who have suffered similar fates for refusing to fall under the spell of the ‘man’ who seems to run the GOP these days.

      November is barreling toward us (or we toward it) and I hope for the best, for if the Republicans win a majority in both chambers of Congress, the best case scenario is that nothing will get done, and the worst case scenario is that far too many of the wrong things will get done. Fingers are tightly crossed.


  7. The Vocal Voters in America are mostly MAGAt Republicans. Because they scream the loudest people like Biden fear them. The Democrats cannot afford to fear them. They have to send their message just as loud and even stronger. Trumpism will kill democracy. Anyone who votes for Trump IS a traitor against democracy. That is the real truth. MAGAts can scream against it all they want, but they cannot change the truth!

    Liked by 1 person

    • In one sense, you’re right … we only give them more power if we fear them. But in another sense, we’d be damn fools not to fear them and what they are trying to do. At this point, however, I think the best thing the Democrats can do is turn their back on the maga-cult and work damn hard to show the public in the next 10 weeks what Democrats stand for, such as justice, equality, truth, and principles (of which the Republicans have none).


  8. You can bet that not one Republican who is (or pretending to be) outraged by Biden calling a spade a spade will stop supporting Trump. For all intents and purposes, Trumpism has completely hijacked the GOP, which no longer has room for any conservative of integrity, such as Liz Cheney. Biden was spot on when he said this is a BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA….yet I saw a guy on TV say he doesn’t even know what that means!

    Oddly enough, I believe he really DOESN’T know what that means.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure you’re right … Trump has, for reasons I will never understand, an almost hypnotic hold on the maga-cult. For a long time, I thought the GOP would distance itself from him, but instead they have glued the party to the ‘man’ and are willing to follow him off that steep cliff. ‘Tis a sad statement on our society that people don’t even understand what the “Battle for the soul of America” means. They also seem to think that democracy is guaranteed, that their Constitutional rights will go on forever, no matter what happens to the country. Such ignorance is … inexcusable.

      Liked by 1 person

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