“On this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.” Those were the words of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021 in his inaugural address after taking his oath of office as the nation’s 46th President.
That speech stands in stark contrast to his comments just a few days ago in Statuary Hall in the Capitol Building during which he accentuated the political and social divide that has become so visceral in the country that it is affecting friends and family.
During his inaugural address, President Biden sought to be a unifier and with the initiation of his administration sought to avoid the controversy swirling around his contested election. But as his administration and policies began to collapse either through heightened congressional disputes or failed leadership, his advisors pushed for a more forceful and reactionary response from the President to growing criticism of his administration.
That pugilistic response was most obvious Thursday during his celebration of the January 6, 2021 riots in Washington D.C. that resulted in hundreds of people arrested after forcing their way into the Capitol Building and in some instances just walking in with the apparent approval of Capitol guards as seen on digital recordings.
The use of the word ‘celebration’ is intentional because that is exactly what took place as Democrat legislators surrounded the raised podium erected in Statuary Hall Thursday to hear remarks from the President, the Vice President and Congressional leaders. The sole purpose of the event, one that should have invoked retrospection of all elected leaders considering the very division that is apparent at every level of community and government, was designed to highlight the growing national political divide.
That January event has been and continues to be described incorrectly as an insurrection when in fact it was an emotional, and by all indications, spontaneous reaction by President Trump’s supporters who felt that the election was fraudulent. The subsequent breach of the Capitol Building was quickly politicized by Democrats and the major media as a way to damage the support for President Trump who had lost the election by a fraction of votes, and in the process further enhance what is now recognized as a weak alternative – President Joseph R. Biden.
But rather than use the January 6 event as an opportunity to bind the political wounds that continue one year later, as he promised in his inaugural address, the president sought the deepen the continuing national divide.
He and the other speakers, using hyperbole and religious metaphors, worked to create a scene that even historians will question in the years ahead. Describing that day, the President noted, “…one year ago today, in this sacred place (obviously the President sees Statuary Hall as a religious structure) democracy was attacked ….the will of the people was under assault. The Constitution faced the gravest of threats.”
And what were these threats? They were an unruly mob that had no clear objective other than to express frustration and anger at an institution that they considered to be uncaring or deficient in leading the country. There is no question that the outburst and destruction were wrong. The participants are being charged and will pay dearly for their mindless actions.
Describing the scene of that day, the President noted, “This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection.” Yet moments before that statement he noted that the rioters were armed with “flags on poles being used as weapons, as spears. Fire extinguishers being thrown at the heads of police officers.” Hardly the weapons of an armed insurrection.
But for the president to paint a picture totally divorced from reality does little to solve the underlying cause- a distrust of government- and furthers the growing distrust of the president, Congress and government at every level.
This January 6 event played into the hands of the president’s advisors as they’ve sought to distract the nation from his expanding failed policies to include his failed promise to corral the COVID-19 pandemic; a failing economy exacerbated by the highest inflation in 40 years; a failed departure (some would say retreat) from Afghanistan that left hundreds of U.S. citizens and allies behind; and now a growing threat of international conflict with China and Russia. These failures are adding up to a national disaster for the president, his administration and particularly the Democrat party.
Now the president can add yet another failure to this list- his failure to unify the country as he promised just 12 months ago.