Attack, attack, attack: Republicans strive to make Biden the bogeyman | American News
It looked like Joe Biden would be bad for business in the “Make America great again” world.
In theory, the US president, a white man with working-class roots and moderate political stances, was a more elusive target for Donald Trump’s increasingly extreme support base than other leading Democrats.
But after his first year in office, it turns out Biden isn’t too boring to be a right-wing boogeyman after all.
“It’s our best seller,” said Ronald Solomon, a merchandiser who sells a $21.99 t-shirt featuring the president with an Adolf Hitler-esque mustache and the slogan “Not my dictator”. “Sales of Trump merchandise and anti-Biden merchandise are the highest they’ve been except for the three months leading up to the 2020 election.”
The demonization of Biden as Hitler, Stalin or an anti-white racist bears no relation to reality. But for many Republican voters, it seems to stick, the product of relentless conservative media attacks, missteps by the president and bubbling frustration during a seemingly endless pandemic.
At first, Biden drew less animosity than Barack Obama, the first black president who was subjected to conspiracy theories about his birthplace and the rise of the populist Tea Party movement. Biden never had to endure the misogyny endured by Hillary Clinton.
His political record was also non-inflammatory. When Trump supporters gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference under the “America vs. Socialism” banner, the biggest hate-figures were Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic socialist from Vermont, and member of the Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a liberal Latina from New York.
Since arriving in the White House, however, Biden has given Sanders a prominent voice in shaping his political agenda. The unexpected scale of the president’s ambition to spend billions of dollars on coronavirus relief, the social safety net and the climate crisis has fueled a Republican narrative that he is a puppet of the radical left.
And while Biden’s identity as a white man has neutralized other “isms,” he cannot escape ageism. At 79, he is the oldest US president in history, with his every slip of the tongue exploited to cast doubt on his sanity. Last May, Fox News host Sean Hannity displayed a goblet with the presidential seal on it, floating the nickname “Spout cup Joe”.
In August, Tucker Carlson tells viewers of the same network“Perhaps the most important thing we’ve learned is that Joe Biden is not capable of running the country. Joe Biden is senile. (These commentators rarely note that Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , is also 79 years old.)
Another popular line of attack is to compare Biden to Jimmy Carter, whose presidency in the 1970s ended in failure after one term. “Joe Biden is Jimmy Carter 2.0” said one such press release of the Republican National Committee. “Under Joe Biden’s watch, America is grappling with a gas crisis, record inflation, weak leadership overseas, and Americans trapped behind enemy lines, all reminiscent of the Jimmy Carter years.”
But there’s no greater symbol of anti-Biden sentiment than “Come on Brandona phrase that originated during a Nascar race in Alabama in October. Brandon Brown, a 28-year-old driver, had won his first Xfinity series and was being interviewed by an NBC Sports reporter.
The crowd behind him was chanting something that, at first, was hard to hear. The reporter suggested they were saying “Let’s go, Brandon!” to assist the driver. But it became increasingly clear that they were chanting “Fuck Joe Biden!” That’s how “Let’s Go, Brandon” became conservative code to insult the president and went viral.
On a southwest flight from Houston to Albuquerque, the pilot signed his greeting over the public address system with the phrase, leaving some passengers appalled. On Christmas Eve, when Biden made a few phone calls to the Norad Santa Tracker, Jared Schmeck, a Trump supporter from Oregon, said, “Merry Christmas and let’s go, Brandon!”
Speaking of Las Vegas, Solomon, president of Maga shopping center, said he has a “Let’s Go, Brandon” product line that includes banners, buttons, men’s and women’s t-shirts and hats in four different colors. “First, it’s an attack on the mainstream media: This NBC Sports girl immediately tried to make it look like she was saying something she wasn’t saying,” he explained.
“Second, it’s a way for Republicans who don’t want to use a four-letter word to have a chance to say something that attacks the President of the United States, which they can’t stand anymore.”
In a nod to the Trump base, Republican Senator Ted Cruz posed with a “Let’s Go, Brandon” sign during the World Series of baseball. McConnell’s publicist retweeted a photo of the phrase on a building sign in Virginia. Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina wore a “Let’s Go, Brandon” Mask at the United States Capitol. Jim Lamon, an Arizona Senate candidate, used the slogan in a television campaign ad.
Critics point out that goading, provoking and outraged their opponents, known as “owning the libs”, has become the defining principle of a Republican party that lacks its own cohesive ideology. McConnell reportedly told donors last month that he would not present a legislative program for the November midterm elections because he was content to hammer the Democrats.
But with Biden’s approval rating hovering in the 1940s and his Build Back Better agenda stalled in Congress, the Republican formula might work.
John Zogby, a pollster and author, said: “They have made significant strides in demonizing him. At first, of course, it was hard. He was a softer target, he was Uncle Joe, he had a high popularity rating and he had been around for a long time.
“But definitely in the second half of that first year, the almost mantras of the Republican Party kicked in: he’s too old, he’s a socialist, and then this whole ‘Let’s go, Brandon’ thing. Moreover, the fact that they succeeded in blocking the biggest initiatives, so not only a socialist, but a socialist who cannot succeed, is the message.
Barbs and bricks aimed at a Democratic president are nothing new. Before Obama, there was Bill Clinton, who drew his share of hard feelings, vitriol and baseless conspiracy theories. In today’s hyper-polarized, social media-inflamed Washington, the incumbent can expect to have everything but the kitchen sink.
Allan Lichtmann, a distinguished professor of history at the American University in Washington, said: “As long as you have the capital D as a political designation, you are a target for Republicans. It doesn’t matter if you are a leftist or a moderate Democrat, it makes absolutely no difference.
“Bill Clinton was a centrist. He was the head of the Democratic Leadership Council, dedicated to moving Democrats to the center, and yet they attacked him relentlessly, even impeached him. Republicans will oppose basically everything what a Democratic president proposes and will attack them relentlessly.
Others argue that Biden has done the Republicans’ job for them with a botched pullout from Afghanistan, a crisis on the southern border, the highest inflation in 40 years and an inability to curb the pandemic. The president’s newly aggressive stance on voting rights and safeguarding democracy has also rallied Republicans against him.
Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster and strategist, said: ‘Incredibly Joe Biden has a worse approval rating at this point than Donald Trump and it’s not because of Republican criticism. It’s because of Biden’s failures.
“He failed to communicate effectively. He failed to bridge the gap; in fact, it encourages greater division. He over-promised on Covid and failed to deliver. And nothing bothers people more than rising prices because it affects everyone whether you are working class, middle class or somewhat well off.