Joe Biden's Big Lie
A Commentary by Michael Barone
Did you know that Black people are not going to be allowed to vote in America anymore? At least in states controlled by Republicans. Sounds a bit unlikely, but that's a conclusion you might have come to if you took seriously what President Joe Biden said in Philadelphia Tuesday.
Biden decried Republicans' proposed changes in election laws as "the 21st century Jim Crow assault" that tries "to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections, an assault on democracy."
This is, to be polite, unhinged nonsense.
Biden is old enough to remember what real Jim Crow voter suppression was like. It meant zero Black people voting in places like Mississippi. It meant threats and violence against Black people who tried to register to vote. It meant unfair application of literacy tests and poll taxes.
Requiring voters to present photo ID is nothing like this: Large majorities think it's reasonable. Measures such as reducing the number of pre-election voting days in Georgia (there are zero in Biden's Delaware) or ending pandemic-inspired measures like drive-through voting in Harris County, Texas, are not the same. Not even close.
Early in his speech, Biden denounced "the big lie," a reference to Donald Trump's claims that he actually won the 2020 election. But Biden's Jim Crow charge is an even clearer instance of the big lie -- and a more dangerous one -- since it's unlikely to be fact-checked by most media. If you want people to condemn a big lie, don't tell one yourself.
In his criticism of Trump, Biden invoked a long-standing norm of American politics.
"In America, if you lose, you accept the results. You follow the Constitution. You try again. You don't call the facts 'fake' and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you're unhappy."
He spoke these words, apparently unaware that they could be applied to him and his own party.
You might not understand this if your only news sources were the New York Times or CNN. But if you try to look at it, as Darryl Cooper does in the leftist Glenn Greenwald's Substack, you might recall that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats did not accept the results of 2016 election and spent months advancing the Russia collusion hoax to delegitimize and end the Trump presidency.
"We now know," Cooper wrote, "that the FBI and other intelligence agencies conducted covert surveillance against members of the Trump campaign based on evidence manufactured by political operatives working for the Clinton campaign, both before and after the election."
He went on: "We know that those involved with the investigation knew that accusations of collusion were part of a campaign 'approved by Hillary Clinton... to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service."
As Cooper noted, for months, many Trump supporters worried that there might be substance to the Russia collusion charges. Democrats insisted there was. News media like the NYT and CNN ignored or ridiculed efforts by the likes of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes to show there was nothing there.
Nunes was right, as became apparent when special counsel Robert Mueller admitted in his report -- and in his pathetic performance on Capitol Hill -- that he had no evidence of collusion. But the Times and other papers didn't return the Pulitzers they won for their Russia collusion stories.
The Times' executive editor Dean Baquet acknowledged in an angry newsroom meeting: "The day Bob Mueller walked off the witness stand... [o]ur readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, 'Holy s---, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.'" As a result, "We're a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that's what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years." "A little tiny bit flat-footed," translated into English, means "dead wrong."
Have Baquet or other news media leaders confessed error for their misjudgments? Have any Democrats who pursued the Russia collusion hoax like Inspector Javert confessed error? Not that I've seen.
Back in January, I wrote that Trump's words to the Jan. 6 crowd "were uttered with a reckless disregard that they'd provoke violence that any reasonable person could find impeachable."
But calls for comity and confession of error are unpersuasive coming from people who haven't shown comity or confessed error themselves.
Democrats who want to restore respect for the electoral process need to stop calling harmless changes in election laws "voter suppression" and a return to Jim Crow. They and their media protectors need to apologize for their years-long campaign to delegitimize Donald Trump's presidency by advancing a baseless hoax.
Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.
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