George, the basketball coach who has the bad luck to precede Norman Dale at Hickory High in the movie Hoosiers, doesn’t know what’s about to hit him. He’s lived in Hickory forever, and has every reason to believe he knows how it all works. He even has an aphorism ready when he is confronted by Gene Hackman, as Coach Dale.
Look, mister, there’s two kinds of dumb: a guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and a guy who does the same in my living room. First one don’t matter, the second one you’re kinda forced to deal with.
Early last week, President Joe Biden referred to the “ultra-MAGA Republicans” as “semi-fascist.” Somehow, certain people knew exactly who he meant, and they were it. So they called it “truly nuts” and demanded he take it back, or apologize for it. None other than senate candidate J.D. Vance said the speech made him feel like he had been called a “sewer rat” (Biden didn’t even use the word rat in the speech). These folks felt just like George who had to walk out of Coach Dale’s gym muttering that he’d “hide strap [Dale] to a pine rail and send him up the Monon line.”
But President Biden did not back down. Instead, he stood in front of our country’s birthplace, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and elaborated on the threat to the country posed by the violent rhetoric and criminal actions of the ultra MAGA movement, including the insurrection on January 6th, and the wave of GOP election denialism fomented and spread by the former President.
Biden gave anyone who didn't think of themselves as an ultra-MAGA, anti-democracy zealot a nice out when he said:
Now, I want to be very clear, very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.
But the hit dogs still hollered. Tucker Carlson said Biden had called every Republican a nazi and that he was “very dangerous.” The Wall Street Journal suggested Biden was “investigating disfavored beliefs.” Too many folks to count objected to Biden speaking with Marines in the background, something every President does.
But the President has ignored the noise and pressed his case, not dividing but defining the contending sides in the upcoming election. The President has told the ultra-MAGA-Republicans that he is not in their living room. They are in ours.
The polls back him up. Many Trump-apologists claimed that Biden had attacked “half the country.” But they’re not even close to half. A strong majority of Americans wants nothing to do with the January 6th insurrectionists, including 79% who think Trump acted illegally or unethically in trying to hold onto power. Sixty-seven percent think the former President’s illegal retention of classified documents is very or somewhat serious. And only 33% percent of voters want Trump to come back in 2024. What “half the country thinks” is that Trump should be prosecuted.
The simple fact is, there is no MAGA majority and the President knows it. Much more than half the country wants to improve their lives, to be heard, and to live in peace. In endorsing one of his MAGA-men for governor of Massachusetts last week, Trump said the candidate would “rule your state with an iron fist.” Turns out there’s not much of a constituency for that in America, much less in famously restless Massachusetts. Biden has been a moderate figure his whole career, and in putting Trump and most loyal fans in one box and the rest of America in another, he is steering a moderate course, right where most Americans are.
So for those offended by sharp attacks on the “enemies of democracy,” you have got some questions to ask yourself. A good one would be: “why am I offended when the President says bad things about the enemies of democracy? Is that what I am?” Another would be, “if I don’t believe in democracy and I think all the elections are rigged, why do I vote at all?” Remember how for the whole first year of Biden’s Presidency ultra-MAGAs were saying Trump was just about to be “reinstated”? He wasn’t. What does that tell you? Just the other week he demanded an “immediate re-vote.” At some point, wouldn’t you say the man is, at best, a sore loser?
As President Biden put it, “you can’t love America only when you win.” We had four years of Trump and it felt like forty. Then we had another election, as we always have, and he didn’t win it. He’s in more trouble now than he was when he lost. The minority holding on to the day he’ll come back as the one true King are going to be disappointed. Sixty percent of Americans would rather he not run at all.
We don’t live in Trump’s country. He lives in ours. If he wants to run naked in the snow and howl at the moon that doesn’t matter. But keep trying to do it our living room and well, George found out.