Biden faces ‘delicate dance’ on anniversary of Jan 6 as Dems split on best approach

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The one year anniversary of the January 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol is upon us and Democrats are expected to play the “insurrection” card to the hilt with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announcing last month that even though Congress will not be in session she is planning a “full program of events” to commemorate the one year anniversary.

In addition to a prayer vigil, a panel discussion with historians will be held and members will have an opportunity to reflect on their experiences during what Pelosi characterized as a “deadly attack.” But the highlight of the day’s events with be remarks from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during an appearance at the Capitol.

And it here that Biden is facing a “delicate dance,” as The Hill characterized the challenge he faces “in not overly politicizing the anniversary while at the same time forcibly taking on former President Trump.”

As for Trump, he is planning to hold a news conference following the ceremony at the Capitol — it remains to be seen whether the media will cover the event, as many outlets have taken on a position of not granting Trump a platform.

Interestingly, The Hill referenced a potential 2024 rematch between Biden and Trump, saying the dueling statements “foreshadows” that contest. There’s a growing sentiment that Biden may not run for reelection. The president recently said he would run “if” he was healthy, and there are concerns about his cognitive decline — Biden would be 82 in 2024.

Biden’s approval ratings are dismal as he faces a stalled agenda on Capitol Hill, a record COVID-19 surge, inflation worries and supply chain shortages, to name just a few of the challenges he’s up against and his speech Thursday may be pivotal to the Democratic Party’s success in the days ahead.

“His greatest strength as a political communicator is projecting calm and empathy,” Democratic strategist Joel Payne told The Hill. “This week that will certainly be put to the test.

“His primary job is to take the temperature down and create space for healing,” Payne added. “I think this actually provides a good opportunity for him to remind people of why he was elected in the first place.”

Former Obama aide Micaela Fernandez Allen, director of advocacy at the George Soros-backed Open Society-U.S., does not see Biden mentioning Trump by name, suggesting he will take on a broader message instead.

“I don’t think he will make a mention about the former president because I think it’s about more. It really is about all of us, it really is about our democracy,” she said, according to The Hill. “He will keep it broader and above the fray, and that’s just been the style that we’ve seen from the president over the last year.”

Democratic strategist Eddie Vale disagrees, saying it’s important for Biden to pin the protest on Trump.

“I think there is an understandable natural urge to not overly politicize tragedies and Biden is especially mindful of trying to restore more trust and dignity to the office post-Trump,” he is quoted in the article as saying. “But I think Jan. 6 is different from a lot of other dates we remember past events because it was itself a political act and is still ongoing.”

“It is important that we honor and remember the sacrifices people made, and scars they still bear,” Vale added. “But it is also equally important to remember that this happened because of political lies by Trump and Republicans that are not only continuing today but if anything are getting even worse.”

One thing appears certain, which is that Democrats will do their best to convince the American people on Thursday that the alleged threat to “our democracy” still exists in the form of today’s Republican Party.

Democratic strategist Christy Setzer, who said Biden needs to showcase what his administration is doing “to ensure Jan. 6 never happens again,” and stressed that the president needs to remind the nation that a number of Republicans voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election in various states after the protest, The Hill reported — Democrat lawmakers have done the same thing after recent elections.

“President Biden needs to communicate not only that he understands the gravity of what happened on Jan. 6, as I’m sure he will do, but that he will use the power of his office to ensure accountability,” Setzer said. “It’s still mystifying and depressing that the 147 Republicans who voted not to certify the election based on lies are still in office, as if it were just another voter. That those who helped the insurrectionists literally try to murder their colleagues are still in office, and not prison.”

Expect such over-the-top rhetoric from Democratic politicians to be par for the course on Thursday. The greater question may be whether a Trump-hating Republican like U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was hand-picked by Pelosi to serve on her politically motivated January 6 select committee, will speak.

Tom Tillison


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