So Maybe Biden’s Georgia Tantrum Wasn’t Necessarily The Worst Presidential Speech Ever…

President Biden’s angry, shouting, hyperbolic speech condemning anyone and everyone who opposes him was, most objective critics agree, an epic botch: unpresidential, undemocratic, nasty and bad politics as well. “[It] was aggressive, intemperate, not only offensive but meant to offend, ” was Peggy Noonan’s assessment in the Wall Street Journal. “It seemed prepared by people who think there is only the Democratic Party…in America, that’s it, everyone else is an outsider who can be disparaged. It was a mistake on so many levels…. The over-the-top language of the speech made him seem more emotional, less competent. The portentousness—’In our lives and . . . the life of our nation, there are moments so stark that they divide all that came before them from everything that followed. They stop time’—made him appear incapable of understanding how the majority of Americans understand our own nation’s history and the vast array of its challenges. By the end he looked like a man operating apart from the American conversation, not at its center…”

Noonan’s evaluation was just about the consensus, and it sent historians to the archives to find another POTUS speech of similar rotten timber. Professor Andrew Busch at Claremont McKenna College believes he found one: as Harry Truman fought for his political life as the underdog to Republican Presidential nominee Tom Dewey in the 1948 campaign, he stooped to similarly vile demagoguery. “In our time,” Truman told a Chicago audience little more than a week before the polls opened, “we have seen the tragedy of the Italian and German peoples, who lost their freedom to men who made promises of unity and efficiency and sincerity…and it could happen here.” He went on to say, “Republican leaders, of course, give lip service to the principles of democracy. But the Republicans preach one thing and practice another. The actions of the Republican 80th Congress opened the gate to forces that would destroy our democracy…This is not just a battle between two parties. It is a fight for the very soul of the American Government.” Truman also implied that Dewey was a “front man” for fascist interests, just as Mussolini and Hitler had been.

There are some notable differences between Harry’s “Give ’em Hell” speech and Biden’s; for one thing, Truman praised Democrats for getting inflation under control. Joe sure can’t say that. The whole speech is here.

The fact that Truman once stooped nearly as low as Biden did—he was shorter, you know— doesn’t mitigate the unethical nature of Biden’s vitriol, though. Citing Harry’s speech becomes just another example of Rationalization #22, the worst of them all, in practice. So what if Truman once was almost as bad as Biden, just as bad, or even worse? It doesn’t make what Biden said any more excusable. Moreover, Harry had a bit of an excuse Joe doesn’t: he was campaigning, and indulging in broad negatives is (unfortunately) a common tactic in close campaigns. Biden, in contrast, was bullying. Both were desperate.

Professor Busch suggests another argument to exonerate Truman somewhat, writing,

Truman’s demagoguery is also arguably counterbalanced by concrete achievements such as aid to Greece and Turkey, NATO, the Berlin airlift, and the defense of South Korea against communist aggression. Biden, so far, has no such credits to balance the debit.

This, however, is another rationalization, #21. Ethics Accounting, or “I’ve earned this”/ “I made up for that.”  You cannot earn the right to act unethically by depositing a lot of ethical deeds in the imaginary ethics bank, nor can unethical conduct be erased by doing good for someone else. The illusion that one can balance the ethics books this way is referred to elsewhere on Ethics Alarms blog as “the Ruddigore Fallacy.” 

Joe’s speech was worse anyway.

25 thoughts on “So Maybe Biden’s Georgia Tantrum Wasn’t Necessarily The Worst Presidential Speech Ever…

  1. The contacts and times are completely different. In Harry Truman’s case, the United States had just finished and existential battle for freedom against the worst regimes of modern times. The United States was also now facing the second worst regime of all time in an emerging existential threat as the price for making a deal with Stalin to stop Hitler and Tojo came due. The mention of Korea is inaccurate, since at the time of the 1948 campaign, there were still two years to go before North Korea’s assault across the 38th parallel. Truman could also trade on his record has the scrappy vice president who stepped up when FDR died in the saddle, went on to defeat the enemies of freedom, made the tough choice to drop the bomb, put difficult unions in their place, and now was pulling the world back from the brink, as the real work of winning the peace after winning the war got underway. In that environment, perhaps hyperbole such as he resorted to might be seen a different way. Against his record, Thomas Dewey’s was also nowhere near as impressive. I’m not saying that the heavy-handed rhetoric he resorted to was all right, I’m just saying Truman was in a better position to deliver rhetoric like that and be forgiven for it. History has also borne out that Truman was the right man at the right time, who saves Europe from falling in on itself, who kept the Soviets from taking Greece, who sent the Berliner left to stop the Soviets from freezing and starving West Berlin into submission, who stood up to and pushed back communist aggression in Korea, and who stopped a would be American Napoleon from going too far by removing MacArthur from command. So maybe this nation is inclined to look the other way a little more on Harry Truman’s sins, even though he had more than a few. In a lot of ways, the context and perspective of what you say is almost as important as what you actually say.

    In contrast to what I just said, the context and perspective of Biden’s speech is totally different. As you point out, Harry Truman was campaigning for his political life. Biden may have sounded like he was just trying to push a law that he wanted across the finish line, but he knew it wasn’t going over, and was as much scolding the American people for not helping it go across the finish line and at the same time rallying his base, by ginning up anger and hatred at everyone who was not of that base. The United States is not fighting an existential struggle right now, but a lot of individual people are struggling now as the price of gas goes up, as inflation shows no sign of subsiding, and as the supply chain issues stubbornly refuse to resolve. Peggy noon and got it exactly right when she said that in Biden’s America there is only the Democratic party, and everyone else is an outsider who can be freely disparaged. In Truman’s time, there may have been some residual idea that Americans were all in this together left over from World War II, but at this point, that slogan sounds like a bad joke.

    One other thing Truman had going for him was that he was, if anything, too honest, or at least more honest than he should have been. There is no way that Biden avoids the fact that he campaigned as a moderate, but has governed from the extreme left almost from the get-go. There is no getting around the fact that Biden campaigned as a uniter, but has now continued to drive wedges into American society wherever he can, and driven the existing ones deeper. There is no pretending, especially not now, that Biden campaigned on lowering the political temperature in America, but has instead turned it way up. In sum, the United States knows that Biden is a liar who will say whatever it takes to get elected, and then do something totally different. Those who have not drunk the Democratic Kool-Aid know that he doesn’t really give a damn about civil rights, in fact in the past he was happy to hang with segregationists and refer to cities as the concrete jungle. However, right now that’s where the votes are to be had, or at least where he can gin up the base. The thing is, he is only telling half the story when he talks about the various voting security Acts. He isn’t talking about the 1/3 to 1/2 of states where his party either dominates or, like california, is the only party. He isn’t talking about the huge majority of American cities where a Republican couldn’t get elected dog catcher and sometimes you get out and out socialists or borderline Communists elected. As far as he’s concerned, and as far as his party is concerned, that kind of domination is just fine. He isn’t talking about Washington State, where voting is all by mail, has been for a while, and a republican governor hasn’t been elected since Ronald Reagan was President. He isn’t talking about all the irregularities that got buried last year in the swing States. He’s not talking about the deaths and property damage that resulted summer of 2020 from a whole nation going crazy over the death of a petty criminal at the hands of an overzealous and bullying cop, but he will never stop talking about the day that 300 idiots reached security at the Capitol and accomplished nothing. His own vice president wants to put that day in the same category as Pearl Harbor and 9/11, thereby disparaging and dishonoring the fallen of those days in the name of ginning up cheap political support and theater.

    I once said that Joe Biden would have been a decent president in peacetime and prosperity where all he had to do was preside, let prosperity do its thing, and make sure small problems stayed small and didn’t get big. At this point I’m really ready to throw some of this overheated rhetoric back at him and declare him a traitor. Harsh? Maybe so. But what do you call a lying demagogue who wants to swap “in God we trust” with “in government we trust,” wants to replace “e pluribus unum” with “black lives matter,” wants to change the laws specifically to benefit his own party and ensure a permanent grip on power, and treats those not of his own party not only as others, but as racist traitors who need to be cleared away? Sounds an awful lot like a certain bald guy in a black shirt who pledged to make the trains run on time. Sounds an awful lot like a certain guy with a sinister goatee who promised peace, bread, and land, and then cleared away all opposition by violence. It even sounds uncomfortably close to a certain German with a certain mustache who we don’t need to talk about. We’re not there yet. However, the loss of freedom is never as far away as you think it is, and if you shut your eyes to what Biden is trying to do, and what his party is trying to do, then whose side are you on? He asks if you were on the side of Martin Luther King or George Wallace, no middle ground. I’m asking you today if you are on the side of Washington, Jefferson, and the other Founding Fathers, on the side of the 300,000 who fell to keep this nation together, on the side of the more than a million that fell preserving freedom in the world wars, or are you on the side of the petty tyrants like Huey Long, Ben Tillman, Frank Hearst, and, arguably Hillary, to whom the laws were just helpful guidelines, and the real tyrants like Franco, like Mussolini, like Stalin, like Lenin, like Hitler, like Castro, and like their poor imitators in the pink tide that rolled over South America two decades ago? Which is it? Are you willing to let this country find its own way, even if that includes some mistakes, or are you so sure that your way is the right way that you’re willing to throw everything else out the window to impose it? Ask yourself that when you decide where you are going to put your support this November.

    • I doubt there is any period in which a Joe Biden would have been better than a mediocre to poor President, along the lines of Warren G. Harding, just as there is no setting in which Kamala Harris would be anything other than horrible. Biden is neither bright nor principled. He’s a standard issue retail pol who has repeatedly been in the right place at the right time. He ended up in the Senate, where he didn’t have to manage anything but a committee. Obama picked him out of a hat as a bland white guy to balance the ticket. His mental decline since 2016 was obvious, and he was declining from a low place to begin with. The Presidency is a very difficult job, and the Democrats deliberately suck the nation with someone they had to know couldn’t do it, hoping that a group of ideological puppet-masters could pull him through.

      Good plan. The party deserves everything that happens to it for such a betrayal of trust.

  2. When I read the entire speech, several passages stood out.

    “When a few men get control of the economy of a nation, they find a “front man” to run the country for them. Before Hitler came to power, control over the German economy had passed into the hands of a small group of rich manufacturers, bankers, and landowners. These men decided that Germany had to have a tough, ruthless dictator who would play their game and crush the strong German labor unions. So, they put money and influence behind Adolf Hitler. We know the rest of the story.

    We also know that in Italy, in the 1920’s, powerful Italian businessmen backed Mussolini, and that in the 1930’s, Japanese financiers helped Tojo’s military clique take over Japan.

    Today, in the United States, there is a growing–and dangerous–concentration of immense economic power in the hands of just a few men. That’s a dangerous situation. The Democratic Party has been fighting that ever since the Democratic Party has been in existence. This 80th Congress I talk so much about was the tool of that sort of a situation in this country. They contributed towards the concentration of wealth.”

    It seems to me that the great concentrations of wealth and power today lie in the hands of a few men as well – those who control Apple, Microsoft, Washington Post and Amazon, Goldman Sacs et al, and Twitter, just to name a few. All of these organizations are working hand in glove with Democrats to ensure that get the most favorable regulatory environment. And they all put the power of their organizations behind Democrats.

    Truman continued:

    “In 1933, the Democratic Party drove the moneychangers out of the temple and brought new life to our democracy. Now, this Republican Party is making soap bubble promises to behave better in the future. Those bubbles are pretty, those promises are fine, but they will vanish at the first touch of reality. You cannot expect the Republican Party suddenly to turn and bite the hand that has been feeding it–the hand of the special interests, and the hand of big business.”

    Talk about Dog whistles – “Democrats drove the moneychangers out of the temple”. I am not quite sure about the soap reference, but I understand that there is a Jewish practice of hanging a bar of soap on graves.

    “Now, I must speak of the third evil force which works secretly to destroy freedom, racial and religious prejudice. The tragic story of what happened in Germany is all too fresh. We know how Hitler used anti-Semitic propaganda as a way of stupefying the German people with false ideas while he reached out for power.”

    This is the pot calling the kettle black.

    The inflation Truman claims to have conquered arose when he and FDR commandeered virtually all available resources for the war effort. Gas, butter, meat and many other consumer goods were rationed which led to the inflationary pressures for such goods.

    • What’s the political system called when a few massive conglomerates that essentially represent the vast majority of a nation’s economy ties itself directly to one political party and it’s governmental structures?

      I think we had a word for it… just not coming to mind right now.

      Also, when that same political-industrial complex controlled the schools and media… we called it something…

      I just can’t remember though.

          • Michael West wrote, “But that can’t be right… I’ve been assured that the Democrats are decidedly anti-fascist… Are they lying?”

            They’re liars that are psychologically projecting their own fascist like ideological beliefs on anyone they oppose, that way they can point their demonizing finger outward instead of inward….

            • The #1 Rule of Democrat accusations is that if they are screaming about Republicans doing or being something, it means they have either already done it, are doing it, or plan on doing it soon.

  3. Since mid year 2020 I’ve been saying that Biden is not a moderate Democrat and his false facade was going to peel away revealing the extreme progressive political opportunist hidden behind the mask, I think that assessment was spot on. What we’re seeing now is the real Joe Biden that’s been unmasked, unleashed and invigorated by the support of his fellow extreme progressives, it’s all or nothing for these people, they are shoving the political pendulum over the edge of the left.

    It’s 100% crystal clear that the moderate language of unity from the Joe Biden during the campaign was a bald-faced lie to get him elected and his false facade has been peeling away every day since election day. The gnashing of teeth anti-Constitution, anti-Liberty, treasonous¹ propagandist²³ totalitarian is pushing its way out and the true “beast” is emerging.

    I think it’s interesting that some Democrats have taken notice that President Biden has shifted, the question is will they be canceled and eaten by the woke or will they stand up for core American beliefs?

    ¹Treasonous: adjective, betraying one’s country.

    ²Propaganda: noun, information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

    ³Propagandist: adjective consisting of or spreading propaganda.

    • Washington DC national politicians are supposed to be the chosen leaders of the United States of America, a representation of the moral undercurrent of the nation, cultural icons of a sort that the public identifies as representatives of the idealistic goals of our culture and I’m damned sick and tired of being sick and tired because the only thing I hear from Washington DC politicians and their lapdog politically biased media is twisted bull shit, innuendo and outright lies from all levels of government politicians and the media. We are constantly being inundated with false propaganda and it has got to stop or this nation will crumble.

    • OhWhatFunItIs wrote, “Given the disaster that Biden’s speech was. What should his ethical response be now?”

      Disaster?

      First they wouldn’t they have to recognize that the speech was a disaster, but that is simply not going to happen; why, because for the 21st century political left, there are four tenants of “truth”; the left is right, the right is wrong, wrong is evil and evil needs to be destroyed, that’s the dead end of the 21st century political left’s critical thinking and that’s what their leadership is projecting to the public.

      Ethical response; don’t make me laugh. The vast majority of the political left will double down on Biden’s words; why, because the left is right, the right is wrong, wrong is evil and evil needs to be destroyed.

      Any questions? 😉

      • I don’t disagree in the least with your assessment of reality.

        But I am genuinely interested in what the ethical response should be if there were realization by Biden of how wrong the speech was.

        From the years of reading posts and comments here, I would expect for any other leader(like CEO or Coach), Jack Marshal would suggest a genuine apology and resignation as the only suitable course of action.

  4. I mentioned last year that I believe the coming decade is going to see a major realignment of political parties in the United States. No, not a “flip flop” like the mythical party “swap” of the 60s. But as old ideas and political goals have been decided and as the American community shifts how it views its internal structure and relationships, and new scenario must be addressed, the parties and their old platforms will have to adjust.

    And the old demographic alignments will not be the same, and my guess is, for the most part they will be less predictable.

    But more evidence that this IS happening, is that for the first times in nearly a century – more people identify as Republican than as Democrat.

    I don’t think this stat will necessarily hold for long, but it will pop up again and again. It should be a warning that the Democrat’s current direction of choice in the upcoming party realignment is scaring ALOT of their traditional voters.

    If Republicans screw this up, they’ve got no one to blame.

    • “If Republicans screw this up, they’ve got no one to blame.”

      Well, they may be able to legitimately blame Donald Trump. All they need to do is to unite behind a single, rational, not lunatic candidate in 2024, with Trump either giving his support or staying out of the way. Nominating him again would be irresponsible on a Joe Biden scale, but for different reasons. But Trump has the ego and the resources to do a Bull Moose out of spite, and let a Democrat win a la Woodrow Wilson. (And didn’t THAT work out well…)

      I don’t know how the GOP avoids this—all they can hope for is luck. Maybe someone will drop a house on him.

      • No doubt Trump could mess up 2024. But I’m talking long term political shifts that are going to happen regardless of a Trump spoiler in 2024.

        The party that figures out the best coalition by 2030 will be in a solid position for the next several generations.

        That doesn’t mean that how the parties comport themselves in 2024 won’t matter though.

      • Fabulous comments, spot on analysis, so appreciate.
        The way out of this deepening mess short term, is for the proglibots to continue as is resulting in a 2022 red tide, but that all depends on good election integrity. I fear the dirty-dems have a trick up their sleeve in that regard.

        “I don’t know how the GOP avoids this—all they can hope for is luck. Maybe someone will drop a house on him.”

        It has been said that everyone has a price that will buy them off and hopefully Trump is no exception.
        *Pay that price* for him to either back off or genuinely cooperate and support a strong ticket like DeSantis/Scott. Presently, that seems like a fantasy. Let the negotiations begin.

        • “but that all depends on good election integrity”

          I think the Left fundamentally knows that going the way it is currently going, it will not come out of the 2020-2030 party shift in any favorable position. I think that’s why they are desperately trying to pass their Election Rigging Bill now. They don’t want the nation to go through the party realignment because it means alot of the sacred cows they’ve built fences around these past decades will basically be lost for generations.

          So they’d rather just take over the system like…what was that term Chris Marschner alluded to above?

          A huge cultural cycle occurred during the FDR years – the rise of technocracy and the rise of “trust the experts”. And while that will still be a force for the rest of the century – it is a force that was distinctly anti-Federalist and it is being quietly in most sectors and noisily in some rebelled against. And that’s part of the political realignment that Democrats are going to have to adapt to which the GOP is naturally positioned to take advantage of sooner.

    • Michael,
      The ongoing cultural shift that’s happening because of the active cultural war that the political left started about 15 years ago. Conservatives are trying to stop or at least slow the cultural shift but they have been failing miserably although there are some small glimmers of returning to founding principles as the political left’s policy goals and rhetoric seem to fall completely over the edge of reality into the abyss of totalitarianism. A shift in politics usually comes after a shift in culture and we are definitely seeing a shift in politics towards the extreme left due to a propaganda induced shift in culture over the last six years so Republicans are now trying to drag the political pendulum back to the center (the political left is kicking and screaming) and hopefully use the constitution and the law to slow or prevent the cultural driven political shift and therefore maintaining the status quo across the USA. It’s a court of totalitarian public opinions vs the constitution and the law and the way the constitution and the laws have been written they should prevail and drag the pendulum back towards the center but I just don’t know if it is going to work in the long run, we may have shifted too far to the left to effectively come back.

      If Trump gets the GOP Presidential nomination in 2024 I think the end result will be the ruin of the Republic; but let’s be very clear here, that ruin will not be because of what Trump does politically but because of the completely unhinged actions and reactions from the extreme political left, the anti-Trump mob, and the left’s lapdog media. I did not support Donald Trump as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 and I won’t support him again.

      As I see it, the only way forward for the USA is a move away from the shift towards totalitarianism and to achieve that the GOP must return to its roots and win a decent majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and maintain that majority for at least the next 8 years no matter who is President. Also the GOP must move away from Donald Trump the person and stick to core conservative policies and classic liberal* ideals with a different candidate.

      *liberal: adjective relating to or denoting a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise.

      • If I may add, Trump may have been the egomaniacal narcissist that people claim him to be. He also demonstrated that the GOP needs to fight for what it holds dear instead of trying to be Neville Chamberlain all the time. The GOP allowed the Left to metastasize when it lets them advance baseless narratives such as voter ID suppresses voting or that white supremacy is an existential threat, or that anything that might prevent voter fraud is a threat to democracy. No one has demanded that they produce any evidence that such claims are even valid. There is less evidence available to say we have widespread voter suppression then we have about widespread voter fraud.

        Furthermore, if these fine Democrats want to help people without ID’s vote, they must know who they are. And if they do, we should ask why are Democrats wanting to keep these “poor oppressed” people ID’less when they could help them get an ID which would help them rise in the mainstream American economic system?

        • Chris Marschner wrote, “Furthermore, if these fine Democrats want to help people without ID’s vote, they must know who they are. And if they do, we should ask why are Democrats wanting to keep these “poor oppressed” people ID’less when they could help them get an ID which would help them rise in the mainstream American economic system?”

          I had basically that exact same conversation with a few Democrats activists I know a few years back in a small group discussion here in Wisconsin when there was proposals to make Voter ID a law in the state. When I asked them basically what you asked there was dead silence and the looks of hate that I face was signature significant, then the unhinged torrent’s of calling me a racist began. They made their choice, they crossed a line and I don’t respond positively to people that openly spew completely unsupportable lies at me in the way they did. They know the conditions I require of them if they ever want to talk to me again but none of them have ever spoken to me again and probably never will, that’s their choice.

          How dare me.

  5. “It seemed prepared by people who think there is only the Democratic Party…in America…”
    That’s only because it was. What little autonomy that ever existed to aid SloJo’s mental processes has long since departed. The only thing left is some innate hunger to be seen as better and smarter than he actually is, but no understanding of how to do so.

    His handlers are all true believers, so that’s what he’s programmed to channel. He’s the first animatronic president.

    • Exactly. His handlers think, as do people like Rachel Maddow, that the only thing wrong with the current administration is it hasn’t passed legislation to give away more free stuff and to allow even easier ballot box stuffing. They really think if they can only pass these two bills, their approval ratings will go through the roof. They are literally delusional. They don’t understand people don’t want this sort of legislation and government.

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