The curse of politics: Biden, like Trump, becomes target of growing vitriol

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There was a time when voters could despise the president’s policies, but not the person himself

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as they say social media, “F—- Joe Biden” seems to be trending.

When the president visited Scranton last week, a woman held up a homemade sign with the same message.

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In Boise, a retired gunman hung a flag from his ceiling with a nearly identical message, saying: “And f— you get to vote for him!”

These are from the links compiled by The Washington Post, which says “Anger … demonstrates how a political party or cause often needs an enemy, a target of slander that can unite its followers—and, in this case, the rigors of the Trump era, ideal-breaking. and refracted through obscenity.”

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Now wait just a moment.

First of all, I’m not rolling my hands on this. Ever since we had a republic, presidents have been cursed, slammed, despised and otherwise taunted. Booing them at baseball games is a long-standing ritual. The founders themselves were denigrated in the newspapers by fiercely partisan newspapers. To protest is an American birthright.

Second, blaming it on the “norm-breaking” Trump years is a one-sided approach. Donald Trump suffered four years of constant horrific slander, whether the F-bombs were dropped or not. She was called a psychopath and a sociopath, a white supremacist, and an anti-feminist, and was compared to Hitler and Mussolini. And some of that blasphemy was dismissed by media commentators, not just average Joes hanging a sign on the ceiling.

So let’s not bend our knees because Biden is starting to get similar treatment, though not from most of the press.

Now I can imagine the tweeters who would be triggered by this piece. Trump loyalists will say he was abused, but Biden is actually an uninformed, aging socialist and deserves condemnation. Biden supporters will say that Trump is a mad fascist who is a threat to democracy and that it is the current president who is being abused. This is our tribal politics.

The useful question posed by the post piece is how Biden became such a target at age 78. One of his “political superpowers was his sheer incompetence, the way he often managed to embody—even to those who didn’t like him—the innocent grandfather, the bumbling uncle, the leader who Could have made America calm, stable, even boring again. Four years after Donald Trump.” Boring was good.

But now, Biden is “becoming an object of hatred for many Trump supporters,” in part because of the former president’s unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen from him.

But as the piece acknowledges, it is also Biden’s policies: on the border, on inflation, on Afghanistan, on the Covid mandate, and the trillions of dollars he wants to spend on the Bernie-style social agenda.

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There was a time when voters could despise the policies of the president, but not the person himself. Yet a harsh culture and an era of demonization have changed this permanently.

Mike Murphy, a fierce Trump critic who has been a strategist for John McCain, Jeb Bush, and many others, has been quoted as saying that Trump has seen politics as “an angry anger therapy… An angry Democrat or an angry Republican.”

It’s hard to argue with that last part, but the politics of anger have been around forever. Clinton had derangement syndrome, which gave rise to Bush derangement syndrome. There was the Barack Obama version (remember when he was called a secretive Muslim and a GOP congressman shouted “You lie!” during his speech to Congress?) and then of course Trump Derangement Syndrome raised its head.

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 26: Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally to support Michigan Democratic candidates at Detroit Cass Tech High School on October 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Some people are making issue of post story. Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics tweeted: “‘Trump critics increasingly vulgar taunts’ is a headline you’ve never seen in the Washington Post.”

But apart from blaming the polarized media, it’s important to recognize how much anger is on social media these days. We can’t just point fingers at the elite, who no longer control public discourse, when it has become a blood game when blaming and abusing people the posters don’t know.

This is not an argument for more civility. That horse had left the barn long ago.

But we must recognize that there is a price to pay. When every president gets the F-bomb treatment from the other side, it leaves a very bad scenario.


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