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Republicans Run Against Right-Wing Fantasy Joe Biden
A Brandon So Dark None Dare Speak His Name
I really like the Joe Biden who was discussed at the first Republican presidential debate, who is the subject of a billion Fox News segments, and is the frequent target of Inmate P01135809, aka Donald Trump. That Joe Biden rocks.
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If you haven’t heard, that version of the president is the thing of right-wing fantasy. Fantasy Joe opened the southern border and begged undocumented immigrants to come on in, especially if they’re a member of MS-13. Fantasy Joe packed the U.S. military to the gills with “woke generals” who are instructing soldiers to prioritize the issues of racial minorities and the LGBTQ community over warfighting. Fantasy Joe is pushing for socialized medicine, weaponizes the Department of Justice and IRS to persecute his political enemies. Fantasy Joe can’t stop talking about how much he loves abortion and does everything he can to spend trillions of dollars on every left-wing initiative under the sun.
Fantasy Joe is a dream.
He’s also an absolute invention of the right and a product of their distorted echo chamber that bears no resemblance to reality. The real Joe Biden is of course a perfectly normal, center-left mainstream Democrat who has pluses and minuses that everyone can see.
But the constructed Joe Biden who shows up every few minutes on Fox News is a convenient boogeyman for the right. As they did before with Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the right has made up a version of the Democratic president because the real one would require an actual argument to be made. It’s a lot easier to paper over the deficiencies and unpopularity of the conservative agenda if you can whip up the base by telling them America is in the throes of a communist takeover. This is the right’s go-to playbook.
The problem is the right is too good at communicating, at least to the core of their base. It isn’t enough anymore to get voters riled up about this stuff within the sealed-off conservative media world, but now the caricature is leaking over to the mainstream, where voters do not worship at the altar of Sean Hannity and his lying cohorts.
What ends up happening is that real world voters look at President Biden and Vice President Harris and find them impossible to reconcile with the right-wing fantasy. When Fox News talks about Biden either being a craven socialist or so doddering and incompetent that he can’t get a word out, it sets expectations in a strange place. Then Biden appears and communicates and its largely the same Biden who has been a public figure for 50 years.
The right was swamped by this in the 2020 election when they convinced their world that Biden had no support, was “hiding in his basement” and so out of it he couldn’t appear at presidential debate without taking some kind of stimulative drug. Voters didn’t see that version of Biden during his debates with Trump, or as he campaigned across the country or on TV and online. They saw the same Biden that normal people do and he earned 81.2 million votes in the process.
I think both men are bigoted monsters but I can respect the political tactics of former GOP operative Karl Rove and Fox News creator Roger Ailes, because they (mostly) understood the virtue of not getting high on your own supply. They both understood that while it is useful to create a boogeyman of an opponent, that image has to be rooted in some version of reality. You do that so when a non-diehard pays attention to politics, usually just a few weeks before an election, there’s a lot less whiplash. But Ailes is dead and Rove has little to no influence in the Trump-era Republican Party.
So the machines both men had a hand in molding marches on, but without a common sense limiter. There aren’t any smart but evil people running organizations like Fox and the Republican National Committee, who understand that Fantasy Joe is a no-sell.
Recent history has taught me to temper an optimistic assessment with reality, so there is always the possibility that the right’s fake version of Biden could take hold with the wider public and cause problems for the Democrats. But I’m really skeptical.
The same organizations and individuals spent 2007-2017 selling a fantasy version of Obama, a diehard socialist who was trying to convert America to Sharia law. But that utterly failed in two consecutive presidential elections. One could argue that it helped motivate conservative turnout in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, but 2022 now shows us that attacking the Constitution and overturning Roe v. Wade is a pretty good formula for reducing a red wave to a red trickle.
It’s already too late for the right to run against the real Biden, because they’ve done an excellent job of convincing their world that Fantasy Joe is who they are up against. My gut feeling is that leads to a scenario where actual, real world President Joe Biden has an advantage.
But Fantasy Joe is my personal frontrunner for the 2028 nomination. That guy gets it.
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Exclusive Kal-El Photo
I feel kind of bad that I made Kal watch the Republican debate with me this week, though he did walk off about half way through to go to bed.