Home News Conservatives Angry at Biden’s Anti-Nazi D-Day Speech

Conservatives Angry at Biden’s Anti-Nazi D-Day Speech


President Biden commemorated the 80th anniversary of D-Day with a traditional American speech about the civic values this country has taken from that event: Democracy is good, fascism is bad, allies are necessary, etc.

Conservatives had two plausible options in response. The highbrow rejoinder would be to praise the speech and note that of course they, too, were rooting for Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. The lowbrow response would be to circulate misleading clips of Biden to make him look older than he actually is. (Many of them did this.)

But some elite conservatives chose a third option: Angrily denounce the platitudes about democracy as an attack on their own values.

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak complains that Biden’s speech was “a veiled attack on his domestic political opposition in the upcoming election.” Erick Erickson moans, “I don’t think it was appropriate for Biden to turn the remembrance of D-Day into a political attack on his opponent.”

It is true that some media outlets interpreted Biden’s remarks as an attack on Trump. But the speech didn’t mention Trump. Nor did it refer to him obliquely. What it did was denounce a series of ideas that Trump does not claim to believe.

Biden noted, “Ukraine has been invaded by a tyrant bent on domination.” He warned, “To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators is simply unthinkable.” He denounced “isolationism.” He praised democracy and warned about authoritarianism:

Now, we have to ask ourselves: Will we stand against tyranny, against evil, against crushing brutality of the iron fist? 

Will we stand for freedom? Will we defend democracy?

What part of that do conservatives object to? Trump doesn’t claim to be an isolationist, a lover of dictators, or an opponent of democracy. They insist he doesn’t want to break up NATO and only wants to toughen up the allies. His supporters only take attacks on these things as an attack on Trump because they understand he actually loves dictators, believes in isolationism, and hates democracy.

Pollak, hilariously, uses as evidence of Biden’s scrupulous criticism the following line: “[The D-Day heroes] fought to vanquish a hateful ideology in the ’30s and ’40s. Does anyone doubt they wouldn’t move heaven and Earth to vanquish [the] hateful ideologies of today?”

Hearing the reference to “hateful ideologies,” Pollak’s response is “Hey, that’s us!”

All Biden’s rhetoric is totally standard fare from postwar American presidents. This is a bit like how every gauzy Super Bowl commercial in the Trump era about how people should be nice to each other came across as a subtle attack on Trump. When the leader of your party opposes your country’s basic values and human decency, giving a speech touting those values without sounding partisan becomes impossible.

Trump fans apparently think the solution is to stop presidents from giving overseas speeches touting American values. Maybe the solution is to nominate a Republican presidential candidate who’s not an authoritarian criminal?

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