The TAKE with Rick Klein
A chunk of President Joe Biden’s first year in office was defined by his belief in bipartisanship — and, in the view of many of in his own party, acting as if his predecessor didn’t mean what he did to and about the GOP.
That changed on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack. Biden called this “an inflection point in history,” and it might mark something similar when it comes to his presidency.
Without once mentioning him by name, Biden took direct aim at former President Donald Trump and his movement. He made it personal: “a defeated former president” whose “bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.”
Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden delivers remarks on the one-year anniversary of the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan.6, 2022.
“He can’t accept he lost,” Biden said.
It left Republicans complaining that Biden was injecting partisanship into a day of solemnity. But given the context of what happened a year ago — not to mention the near-total GOP boycott of the day’s ceremonies at the Capitol — those are hits the Biden White House is willing to take.
Trump on Thursday churned out a series of misleading and outright false statements that in part served to prove Biden’s point. If Jan. 6, 2021, was the day democracy was almost toppled, Jan. 6, 2022, was the day the current president announced that his mission was to confront divisions that are too important to try to heal.
Implicit in much of the way Jan. 6 has been commemorated is the fact that as bad as it was, it could have been far worse. Biden’s signal to his party from here is that the only way to confront Trumpism is by taking on Trump all over again.
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The work of protecting a democracy in peril is easier said than done, and Biden has his work cut out for him.
“I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach, I will defend this nation and I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” Biden said Thursday from the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
The remarks by the president, vice president and a host of other Democratic lawmakers Thursday emphasized the through-line between election lies fomented by Trump and his allies, the Capitol attack, restrictive voting legislation passed in states across the country and the push to pass federal voting reforms.
Andrew Harnik/APVice President Kamala Harris speaks from Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol to mark the one year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by supporters loyal to then-President Donald Trump, Jan. 6, 2022.
“We must pass voting rights bills that are now before the Senate and the American people must also do something more,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “We cannot sit on the sidelines, we must unite in defense of our democracy.”
But it remains to be seen if any of those remarks or the fresh reminder of the horrific events of Jan. 6 will move the needle. The math still isn’t in Biden’s favor — a 50-50 Senate, Democratic holdouts opposed to a Senate rule change and continued Republican blockage of voting legislation.
Pressure from advocates is mounting, with calls for the Biden administration to move more urgently on voting rights. Both Biden and Harris are slated to travel to Georgia, which passed restrictive voting legislation last year, to give more pointed remarks on voting rights Tuesday. Their trip comes ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day deadline Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has issued for debate and consideration of filibuster reform.
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Many of the Republicans who were absent from the events surrounding the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack claimed the day was going to be politicized by their colleagues across the aisle — a framing that appears to now be cemented in the party’s rhetoric about the significance of that fateful day.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell set the tone before Thursday’s commemorative events began. In a statement, McConnell acknowledged Jan. 6 as a “dark day for Congress and our country” while also alleging that “some Democrats” were trying to “exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event.”
Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images, FILEFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 29, 2021.
GOP allegations of partisanship also came from high-profile Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — a steadfast Trump ally and speculated 2024 contender. When asked to weigh in on the Jan. 6 attack anniversary at a Thursday press conference, DeSantis omitted condolences for the victims of the deadly insurrection while claiming the national media’s coverage of the riot was being treated like “Christmas.”
“I think it’s going to end up being just a politicized Charlie Foxtrot today. I don’t expect anything good to come out of anything that Pelosi and the gang are doing. I don’t expect anything from the corporate press to be enlightening. I think it’s going to be nauseating, quite frankly, and I’m not going to do it,” DeSantis said.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Start Here on Friday morning begins with a look at President Biden’s speech commemorating the one-year anniversary of the US Capitol riot. ABC’s Jonathan Karl breaks down the day and Biden’s forceful speech placing blame for the attack. Then, ABC’s Kate Shaw previews Supreme Court arguments on the legality of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for the workplace. And, ABC’s Ian Pannell reports dozens are dead in Kazakhstan after an anti-government uprising. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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