Resolute Square

Progress vs “Push ’Em (Us) Back—Way Back!”

Robert McElvaine highlights the stark contrast between President Biden's SOTU and the opposition party's response and ambitions, “'Take America Back' means take the nation back from women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, non-“Christians,” and so on. Back to the days when the United States was 'a white man’s country.' Back to before the revolutionary changes that took off in well as the GOP's dangerous alignment with authoritarianism."
Published:March 14, 2024

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By Robert McElvaine

A person and person in front of a microphoneDescription automatically generated
Both have five-letter surnames beginning with “B.” On the left, an 81-year-old man. On the right, a 42-year-old woman. Which one represents the past of women and which the future for women? Which one represents youth?

Three hours of media coverage last Thursday evening encapsulated just about everything citizens need to know about the stakes in the 2024 Election, a battle to save the American Experiment in freedom, democracy, diversity, and equality.

The contrast between the command of the facts, the demeanor, and the positions of President Biden and those of the members of the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican on the floor of the House chamber provided a chiaroscuro painting for the American people to view:

The President was presidential in every way. He articulated where he and the Democratic party stand on all the major issues—defense of democracy at home and abroad, opposition to Vladimir Putin’s aggression, support for freedom and equality (emphatically including women’s ownership of their own bodies), that there is no place for violence in American politics, that the essence of our system is that the loser of an election accepts the result, protection and expansion of voting rights for all, warning that the Supreme Court has departed from the mainstream of America and is legislating rather than applying the enacted laws, health care, taking action to deal with climate change, sensible gun regulation, lowering the prices of prescription medications, against corporate price gouging, for capitalism with checks and balances, the very rich and giant corporations must be made to pay their fair share of taxes, opposing both the Hamas terrorists and the excessive response of the Netanyahu government, and so on—which in almost all cases is where 65 to 85 percent of Americans stand. It was a positive, optimistic vision of where the United States is and where we need to go, presented with vigor and alternating between smiles and well-supported accusations against the not-so-loyal opposition.

It was a tour de force by a master politician and leader at the top of his game. Biden was a “Happy Warrior,” as Franklin Roosevelt had called Al Smith in 1924 and as FDR himself was called when he became president.

Biden associated himself with Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and, on the issues of immigration and standing up to Russia, Ronald Reagan.

The rightwing and the media had set the bar very low, leading people to anticipate a doddering fool. But Biden didn’t need a low bar. He was so much on his game that he might have cleared a bar set at 8 feet ¼ inch, the world record in the high jump that Javier Sotomayor set in 1993.

Biden’s night on March 7 should absolutely put to rest the contention that he is too old for the presidency. He stayed for more than an hour after the speech, talking with everyone who could get near him. Of course, the “too old” charge will not stop, but anyone who brings it up should be directed to the State of the Union address as the “case closed” evidence.

The Not-So-Loyal Opposition

On the other hand …

One was tempted to feel sorry for Speaker Mike Johnson. There he was, in the frame over the President’s left shoulder and facing the “Republican” extremists who put him there and could remove him at any time. It was apparent that Johnson didn’t know what to do. Whenever Biden said something obviously true and popular, the Speaker knew he should applaud, but that if he did, the crazies—the ones even crazier than he is—in his own party would turn on him viciously. So, he clapped with his hands below the desk, hoping the jackals of the Trump cult wouldn’t notice. A friend of mine accurately termed the Speaker “Bobblehead Mike.”
It soon got to the point where most of the members of the gang that stole the name of the Party of Lincoln in the room were not clapping or cheering for anything, no matter how popular. By the end, most of them wouldn’t even give an ovation for “the United States of America!” That’s appropriate because they have become opponents of this nation and our ideals. Biden should have done an experiment and shouted “Russia!” or “Putin!” to see if they would cheer.

“Take America Back(ward)!”

“Take America Back” means take the nation back from women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, non-“Christians,” and so on. Back to the days when the United States was “a white man’s country.” Back to before the revolutionary changes that took off in 1964. Back to the 1950s (apart, of course, from the 90+ percent top marginal tax rate).

Trump Loves Him Some Stepford Wife

While President Biden was still basking in his triumph on the House floor, Sen. Katie Britt (R, Gilead) gave the response of the Opposition Party (that terminology has never before been so appropriate). If the contrast between Biden and the MAGA members of Congress had not been sufficient to produce a Blue Wave in November, she presented reason to make it a Blue Tsunami.

Sen. Britt—okay, she’s actually from Alabama; she just seems to be from Gilead—was in a kitchen to deliver her remarks. The camera did not show far enough down for the audience to see whether she was also barefoot and pregnant.

The question of who chose Britt to give the rebuttal to the SOTU has been circulating. I think she must have been chosen by the Party’s Dear Leader since it is his wholly-owned subsidiary. (The next day, the Republican National Committee installed—unanimously, like the Supreme Soviet or the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly—Trump’s daughter-in-law as its co-chair.)

Reportedly, Mrs. Britt was being given a Veep tryout, and we know that Donald Trump loves him some Stepford Wife.

She spoke in a childlike voice about how the most important thing to her is her family, the whole country is going to hell under Biden, and so forth. She often seemed to be on the verge of tears.

Katie Britt did for Bobby Jindal what Trump did for James Buchanan: lift him out of being the “worst” in a given field.

Andy Borowitz nailed the hypocrisy:

“Katie Britt is just the latest in a long line of Republican women who aren’t stay-at-home mothers but play them on TV. Sarah Palin called herself “just an average hockey mom” when, in fact, she had been a career politician since her 20s. Phyllis Schlafly claimed her place was in the kitchen when she actually spent the entire 1970s traveling the country to defeat the ERA. I encourage all women who want to pursue their political ambitions to do so. But pretending that you spend every night around the kitchen table is an insult to the millions of women who do the hard (and unpaid) work of stay-at-home parenting, and it’s as phony an act as Reagan chopping wood at the ranch.”
Kinder, Küche, Kirche – The Other KKK of the Trump Cult

Fittingly, the position of the MAGA cult on the proper roles for women is that of the old German Empire that was later emphasized by the Nazis: “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” (Children, Kitchen, Church).

The last Nazi K suggests something central to the authoritarian movements currently threatening freedom in the United States and many other nations.

On Thursday evening, Mr. Biden wore an American flag lapel pin, and Mrs. Britt wore a small gold cross on a neck chain. Nothing wrong with the latter, especially when worn to indicate adherence to the teachings of Jesus. But the political party to which she belongs and for which she was speaking is now in tight embrace with “Christian Nationalism,” which is explicitly anti-American, racist, misogynist, authoritarian, and against the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount. It is for intolerance, putting women and people of color back “in their place,” enforcing their “Christian” version of Sharia Law on everyone and having a “morality police” like Iran.

That was the “Republican” message when International Women’s Day was already underway on much of the planet.
Katie Britt’s Big Lie

It was soon revealed that Katie Britt isn't just a terrible actress and shill for authoritarianism and taking women back to the 1950s. She lies as brazenly as her Party’s Führer.

As journalist Jonathan Katz quickly discovered, her atrocious “rebuttal” to the SOTU contained, as Jay Kuo put it in his Substack, “at its core a bold-faced lie: that a sex trafficking victim, who was raped repeatedly at age 12, had met with Sen. Britt and was a stark example of Biden’s failed border policies.”

Here's what she said to the national television audience:

“We know that President Biden didn’t just create this border crisis. He invited it with 94 executive actions in his first 100 days. When I took office, I took a different approach. I traveled to the Del Rio sector of Texas. That’s where I spoke to a woman who shared her story with me. She had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12. She told me not just that she was raped every day but how many times a day she was raped. The cartels put her on a mattress in a shoe box of a room, and they sent men through that door over and over again for hours and hours on end. We wouldn’t be okay with this happening in a Third World country. This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it. President Biden’s border policies are a disgrace."

Here's the truth:

Jay Kuo explains that the woman Britt referred to is “a sexual trafficking victims’ rights advocate. Her story is widely known. In fact, she testified before Congress in 2015 about being forced to work in Mexican brothels from 2004 to 2008—again, back when George W. Bush was president.” Her abuse occurred entirely in Mexico a decade and a half before Biden became president, even before he became VP.

“Biden, the border, and the cartels had nothing to do with Romero. According to her testimony, cited by the [Washington] Post, after her mother threw her out of the house, a pimp took advantage of her, and she spent four years in a brothel, escaping at age 16.”

Nor was Romero ever trafficked across the border to the U.S. Instead, she was the victim of sexual tourism, with “foreigners visiting my city looking to have sexual interactions with minors like me.” That is horrifying in its own way, but decidedly not about the border, much less about Biden.

All of it is a bald-faced lie. She was auditioning to become the Biggest Liar's running mate.
That is not going to happen—not, of course, because of her whole-cloth lie, but because she performed terribly on television. Trump doesn’t tolerate that.

The Trump-Orbán Playdate

                               Two faces of fascism at Mar-a-Lago

If the contrasts between President Biden and the “Republicans” in the Capitol and between his message and that of Sen. Britt were not quite enough to drive home what is at stake, the next day, Trump and Hungarian “strongman” Viktor Orbán met at Mar-a-Lago in what has been neatly characterized as a “dictator playdate.”

Trump proclaimed that the man who destroyed democracy in Hungary is a “fantastic leader; he’s the boss!”

There is no excuse for any American not to know what they would be voting for if they cast a ballot for Trump or members of his—and it is totally his—party who support anything he chooses to do, no matter how anti-American.


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