Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

Get Ready for a Week of Unhinged Attacks on Biden and Harris

Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together—mass hysteria!
August 24, 2020
Get Ready for a Week of Unhinged Attacks on Biden and Harris
WILMINGTON, DE - JULY 28: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the William Hicks Anderson Community Center, on July 28, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden addressed the fourth component of his Build Back Better economic recovery plan for working families, how his plan will address systemic racism and advance racial economic equity in the United States. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

While the left is showing signs of dissatisfaction with the Democratic party’s candidate for president and arguing that the party’s program is not progressive enough, the right has become positively unhinged, warning that the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket will lead to full-blown Soviet-style socialism, or even the collapse and destruction of the United States.

For his part, Biden’s policy proposals are solidly within the center-left mainstream. He has proclaimed his opposition to Medicare for All, calling instead for an expansion of health coverage through a public option; he has condemned the violence that has taken place during protests, particularly on the West Coast; and his campaign publicly repudiated and condemned Linda Sarsour’s stance on Israel after the left-wing activist’s appearance at a “virtual assembly” associated with the convention.

The right, however, is not buying into John Kasich’s claim that Biden will not capitulate to the left. On the contrary, they are certain that if Biden is elected, he not only will move the United States to socialism but will implement every far-left proposal from the Green New Deal to socialized medicine.

If Biden should win, they predict, Americans can expect Portland-style violence to be America’s future. On the Commentary website, senior editor Abe Greenwald writes that “What we’re witnessing, day after day, is revolutionary violence—and it is tearing up the country at a furious pace.” We cannot dismiss the violence because the rioters are young, Greenwald writes in the magazine’s September issue, because so were Mao’s Red Guards, and besides, “the Russian Revolution was preceded by 12 days of protests kicked off by a Women’s Day March.” The stakes are as high as they come: “The battle for the survival of the United States of America is upon us,” Greenwald says. “This is . . . most fundamentally a revolution against the United States of America and all it stands for.”

Why should we take this seriously? His argument is as sane as when Attorney General John Mitchell looked out his window at protesters against the Vietnam War and said “It’s looks like the Russian Revolution.” Greenwald’s unstated conclusion is that, since the “tyrannical mob” poses the most danger to the nation, Donald Trump cannot be as dangerous as the Democrats want you to believe.

Others are even less sanguine. In David Horowitz’s Frontpagemag website, scholar Bruce Thornton says boldly: “the president has a faithful and energized base and a record of accomplishment compared to the Dems’ lunge to the lunatic left.” Thornton agrees with the rest of the Trumpist right that “the Democrats have abandoned their traditional center-left governing philosophy and embraced a socialist ideology that for over a century has serially failed everywhere it has been tried.” Don’t actually listen to what Biden says, Thornton implies; just proclaim Biden believes the opposite. When Trump says something outrageous, the response from his defenders usually is ignore what he says, followed by look at what he does. When Trump then actually does something extremely dangerous, the same Trumpists just say to let it pass, or offer apologias and argue that his steps were correct.

David Horowitz himself is even more vehement than his group of writers, claiming that “Our cities are under siege by communists like Bernie and other self-declared enemies of America who have made eminently clear that they are Marxists and their goal is the destruction of our democracy, which they hope to replace with a communist gulag.” The destructive and violent events in Portland, he writes, are “acts of treason [that] have had the full support of the Democrat Party not only in the cities themselves but in Washington.” That is why Portland, he knows, “is the issue that will re-elect Donald Trump in November.”

As for Obama’s powerful convention speech warning about the potential end of American democracy should Trump be re-elected, Horowitz has already argued that Obama’s White House engaged in “acts of treason.” These took place supposedly when the Obama team attempted to “block and then overthrow the Trump presidency” by falsely accusing it of “collusion with Russia against the president and then to obstruct his administration and overthrow him.” He quotes former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said that Obama and his team tried to stage a “coup,” which is nothing but “treason.” Obama, Horowitz writes, waged “a direct attack on the most fundamental institution of our democracy—elections.” As to the current president’s war on free elections, Horowitz has nothing to say.

This is tame compared to the attacks aimed at Kamala Harris, whom Trumpists claim will be the real president should Biden win. Thornton calls her “one of the most progressive and aggressively ‘woke’ members of the Senate. She has endorsed the far-left policies of the Sanders-AOC wing.” Horowitz himself calls her “a political opportunist and serial liar.”

Writing for Breitbart, Jim Pinkerton calls her a representative of “the ‘woke’ left-libertarianism” of the San Francisco Democrats once put in their place by the late Jeane Kirkpatrick. Harris stands with a group, he writes, that is “a part Karl Marx, one part MSNBC, one part Michel Foucault, and maybe even a little bit of Ayn Rand.” She is part of a “leftism that mostly leaves billionaires alone, free to further build their fortunes.” To this reader, his complaint sounds like he’s talking about Donald Trump.

If possible, American Greatness, the Trumpist website, takes this hyperbole and hysteria to new heights. Matthew Boose writes that the “Kamala Coup” that the Biden-Harris ticket has orchestrated is a “swindle.” In Harris we will have a “regentess” who is

merciless. If she is successful, the revenge will be merciless too, not only against Trump, but against his supporters. The country will suffer as a result. . . . [Harris and Biden] will give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants . . . disarm Americans, even as they defund police . . . and leave citizens vulnerable to criminals and mobs. They have demonstrated that they have no sympathy for this country, its people, or its borders.” There is no reason to suppose that their talking points on these questions are mere rhetoric. They will do these things.

Do not be fooled, Boose warns: Harris will be presented sympathetically by the Democratic party machine and the mainstream media will do everything they can to make her look “benign, ‘authentic,’ and ‘moderate’” when in reality she does not believe in anything and “wears her thirst for power on her sleeve.” Harris and Biden are “actual tyrants in waiting.” (Note, of course, that Boose’s argument contradicts the arguments that Biden and Harris secretly stand for socialist revolution.)

So, as this week’s Republican convention proceeds, steel yourself for this sort of vicious attack on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump will go lower than his lowest point of attack yet. And his base, he hopes, will eat it up and come out to re-elect him.

Ron Radosh

Ronald Radosh is a professor emeritus of history at CUNY, and the author and co-author of many books, including A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel (with Allis Radosh) and Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left. Twitter: @RonRadosh.