“Yesterday, with the world’s largest megaphone, he invoked the literal Civil War and said we are on the doorstep of autocracy. Talked about domestic enemies. Rhetoric unbecoming of a president of the United States,” he added.
It was a fascinating bout of cognitive dissonance for McConnell. Four years of Donald Trump praising neo-Nazis, ranting about sh*thole countries, and grousing about toilet-flushing, and now Biden defending the right of the people to vote is “unbecoming” of a U.S. president.
But double standards aside, McConnell really lost it.
He said Biden’s speech was “deliberately divisive” and had “poured a giant can of gasoline on the fire” of political warfare.
Biden, he said, had “rejected the better angels of our nature” and “chosen to fail his own test” in terms of unifying the country.
As an added touch, McConnell promised to make the Senate the biggest hellscape “in living memory” if Democrats changed the filibuster rule to pass voting rights legislation.
Guess what, folks—this is exactly the debate Democrats want to be having heading into the midterms: Which party is really standing up for American democracy and which party is trying to tear it down?
Democrats must define the terms of the midterm debate as a choice between two parties instead of a referendum on their accomplishments. Over the course of two forceful speeches now, President Biden has begun to outline that debate as a choice between pro-democracy Democrats trying to ensure the fundamental right to vote and anti-democratic Republicans trying to subvert the will of the people.
The White House seemed to relish McConnell’s coronary. Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday the administration was disappointed that McConnell wasn’t supporting the voting rights bills.
“It is even more disappointing that someone who has supported and advocated for voting rights in the past — wrote about it in his book, has talked about it publicly — and repeatedly voted for the extension of voting rights protections is on the other side of this argument now,” Psaki said, adding the Biden’s speech “clearly struck a nerve.”
“What is more irresponsible, unbecoming and divisive is the coordinated effort by far too many Republicans across the country to perpetuate the Big Lie, (and) make it more difficult to vote,” Psaki added.
As Psaki notes, McConnell has flipped on voting rights. The day before McConnell’s diatribe, Democrats had helpfully compiled a series of McConnell’s past statements praising voting rights protections.
Following the speech, Democrats released a statement on McConnell’s “tirade on the Senate floor.”
“While McConnell leads Republicans in their relentless war against protecting the right to vote,” said DNC spokesperson Ammar Moussa, “President Biden and Democrats continue to fight to protect Americans’ fundamental rights.”
That’s exactly the frame Democrats want heading into this midterm election year, and McConnell gave them just what they needed.
Here’s Psaki at Wednesday’s press briefing: