Look up hyperbole in the dictionary, and you'll find a description of President Joe Biden's speech Tuesday at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center, warning Americans that state election security bills are a "21st Century Jim Crow assault" on democracy. Among his more ridiculous exaggerations, Biden warned: "We're facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That's not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on January the 6th. I'm not saying this to alarm you; I'm saying this because you should be alarmed."
Here are a few crises Biden implied were less severe than Republican state election security measures: poll tests and other Jim Crow policies, decades before women could vote, backlash against the Civil Rights Movement, rioting of the 60s, the election of 1876, etc. Biden is speaking to the average CNN viewer, who happily believes hyperbole is not hyperbole, and alarmism is not alarmism.
Biden's speech ricocheted between hyperbole and incoherence. He insisted a Texas election bill not only targets people of color, but people of all colors who vote Democrat. "Where in the Texas bill does he get the slightest inkling of anything like this?" asked PJ Media editor Tyler O'Neil. "He doesn't, but he is grasping at straws." Joe Biden welcomed Texas Democratic legislators to D.C. to prevent the legislature from achieving the quorum needed to pass the bill, while complaining that U.S. senators refusing to allow a vote on H.R. 1 are somehow not doing their jobs.
Lest we forget, "there were legitimate concerns in the 2020 election," explained O'Neil. The coronavirus pandemic prompted 11th-hour rule changes of questionable legality in multiple states. "Republicans are pushing ... election integrity along the same lines as we had before the 2020 election," O'Neil explained, and yet Joe Biden insists it's Jim Crow 2.0 "if you dare change these rules from the 2020 election." Despite his strongly worded speech, Biden "offered few details," said one would-have-been fact-checker.
When Georgia passed an election security law, Joe Biden earned four Pinocchios from the Washington Post for claiming the law reduced early voting hours when it actually expanded them. But he praised Attorney General Merrick Garland for suing Georgia over its law, while Biden's own Delaware has more restrictive voting rules. O'Neil quipped, "when is the Delaware lawsuit, I wonder?" It isn't coming. Biden's rhetoric about an existential threat to American democracy was never sincere.
The supposed moral issue was always about politics. Biden insinuated this throughout his speech by attempting to tie Republican election security bills to January 6 and attempts to contest the 2020 election. The implicit logic is that if certain members contest a lost election, it invalidates any future efforts by that party to ensure free and fair elections, a premise at least as damaging to Democrats, who contested elections in 2018 (for Georgia governor), 2016 ("not my president"), and 2004 (attempting to block electoral college delegates). Joe Biden can't win the argument, but he might undermine confidence in the 2022 midterm elections, where Republicans look poised to sweep back into control of Congress with or without state election reforms.
Some conservatives have charitably interpreted Joe Biden's speech as a "defiant surrender." His radical agenda failed to gain traction in an evenly divided Senate (or even among his own party). But it seems more like a mean-spirited swipe at America's institutions after voters didn't give Biden the sweeping electoral mandate and legislative majorities he craved. Will Joe Biden really tear down America if he doesn't get his way?