With a backdrop of sagging approval ratings amid inflation concerns and broken COVID promises, President Joe Biden used the first anniversary of the Capitol incursion to castigate his opponents and paint himself as a champion of truth.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said even before Biden spoke that his speech would continue the partisan blame.
The president “will lay out the significance of what happened at the Capitol, the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw,” she said, according to Axios.
Biden, who along with Vice President Kamala Harris was a featured speaker in a series of events Thursday orchestrated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, tried to follow the script, according to The New York Times.
“At this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be,” he said. “Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm?”
Although a year ago, Biden was the president-elect who had won office promoting unity, he used his Thursday speech to further alienate those who disagree with him.
“Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people?” the Democrat said, referring to states that have conducted audits to verify the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.
“Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies? We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation,” Biden said.
He focused on then-President Donald Trump’s actions during the incursion.
“What did we not see? We didn’t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on the television and doing nothing for hours,” Biden said.
“What did we not see? We didn’t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on the television and doing nothing for hours,” President Biden says. pic.twitter.com/c6kaaxo13Z
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 6, 2022
Democrats have planned to use the speech as their kickoff to pass election legislation that has failed to attract enough support in the past to clear the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that Biden’s speech Thursday and an upcoming one solely on voting will be the springboards to pass the legislation that would give the federal government expanded control over elections.
Republicans, most of whom are not taking part in the Biden administration’s scripted events to mark the anniversary of the incursion, have chided Democrats for turning the event into a political talking point.
“It is beyond distasteful for some of our colleagues to ham-fistedly invoke the Jan. 6 anniversary to advance these aims,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
“The problem is so far just about every one of them is so afraid of Donald Trump,” the New York Democrat said. “Even when they whisper to us that they don’t like what he’s saying, that they don’t agree with what he’s saying, they’re afraid to resist him. He has a power over the Republican Party now that is damaging.”
“This man, he’s such an egotist,” Schumer said. “He can’t accept that he lost the election fairly and squarely. Instead, he’s eroding our democracy.”
Trump had scheduled a media event for Thursday but canceled it, saying instead he will speak about the Capitol incursion in a Jan. 15 speech in Arizona.
In a statement announcing that change in his plans, the former president said, “[W]hy is the primary reason for the people coming to Washington D.C., which is the fraud of the 2020 Presidential Election, not the primary topic of the Unselect Committee’s investigation? This was, indeed, the Crime of the Century.”