With rare exceptions, speeches, such as opinion pieces, are short-lived: they may or may not be powerful enough to attract attention for more than a moment. Yet, even if these games briefly grab an audience’s interest, they soon disappear from consciousness like mist drifting to sea.
I am reminded of this fact in the days since President Joe Biden made a brief, blunt speech on the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 storming of Capitol Hill by an army of deplorable insurgents provoked by a deplorable president.
When I watched Biden deliver his speech last week, I was impressed by his apparent understanding of the depth of the occasion and his preference for simple, rather than sublime language, to think seriously about the lasting remnant of that cacophonous day.
I was also struck by Biden’s attitude, which at least conveyed to me a palpable impatience, bordering on irritability, that he, as president, was obliged to list and reject Donald Trump’s litany of crude lies about the 2020 election. . rooted among millions of deaf Americans.
Biden also seemed to have taken the form of a prosecutor forced by history and circumstances – in what amounts to a jury summary – not only to refute the absurdity inherent in that litany of crude lies, but to counter a convincing case. Trump as the chief architect of a conspiracy to undermine a constitution he once swore to preserve, protect and defend.
Biden’s indictment in fact included the following: Trump formed the “Great Lie” long before his defeat; to soothe his petty psyche Trump pulled the mob together and incited to attack the Capitol; Trump was among the “real plotters” of the uprising who, out of desperation and the pursuit of power over principle, challenged “the will of the electorate”; and that Trump has for hours refused to eradicate the violent uprising to prevent a peaceful transfer of power.
Biden has abandoned the usual palette of pleasant euphemisms and code words to rather point an accusing finger directly at Trump, which culminated in this astonishing condemnation of his immediate predecessor.
“Those who stormed this Capitol and those who incited and incited and those who tempted them to do so kept a dagger in the throat of America and American democracy,” Biden said.
I doubt any of Trump’s manic legion of truth-allergic supporters have been influenced by Biden’s appeal to reason and common sense or his warning about the potential existential consequences of their allegiance to a slick autocrat and his “shadow of lies.”
Knowing that Biden’s remarkable remarks, however striking and accurate, would be unlikely to move the immovable, may be partly responsible for how quickly many of the American establishment media lost interest in them.
The less charitable statement is that too many American editors have once again confirmed that they own the attention span of a hamster.
The proof? Within a lone news cycle, Biden’s candid and almost criminal portrait of a former president as one of the most important co-conspirators who encouraged, applauded and celebrated a deadly uprising that threatened a constitutional republic and did nothing to stop it did not, overtaken by Texas. Senator Ted Cruz’s typical cocky action on Fox News who pleaded for forgiveness after describing 1/6 as a “terrorist attack”.
Perhaps American editors have too late to realize that the “fever” that has gripped Republicans for generations and has not enabled them to distinguish facts from fiction and law from wrong is now a permanent affliction above any rational means.
Except for enlightened Americans who understand the sinister nature and treacherous nature of the impending danger, the rest of America seems to have cuckoos.
One speech cannot repair the damage done by a thug who became commander-in-chief and his obsessive allies.
Pat rhetoric is not the prescription required for a two-broken America.
Pray, I think, know this. Therefore, his outspoken and public prosecution of Trump must, inevitably, have seized the notice of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice.
While Trump and ill-fated company could dismiss Biden’s accusation as partisan politics and move the press immediately to the next Fox News horror, it will be difficult for Garland to get the input and urgency of a sitting president’s damning censorship of a former president which holds “a dagger in the throat of American democracy”.
Remember, Biden said – without explicitly mentioning him – that Trump planned 1/6, incited 1/6, welcomed the overarching intention of 1/6 and preferred to see 1/6 unfold on TV rather than make an emphatic end to 1/6.
Loyal readers of this column are aware that I was confident that precedent and a reluctance to “pollute” the office of the presidency would combine to allow Trump to escape to be charged, just as they allowed so many other Oval Office criminals evade the dock.
After Biden’s dismay and the drip by incriminating drip of revelations that will surely continue from the House Committee’s inquiry 1/6, I’m no longer convinced that Trump will avoid the legal turnout he deserved.
The momentum builds like a wave on the horizon. The needle has shifted from unlikely to – hey, that might just happen.
The Q-Anon crackpots, the Tiki torch-waving Proud Boys and all the other repulsive rioters in jail who heard their leader’s call for arms at 1/6 could watch Trump finally fulfill his commitment made that day is to “be there with you”.
What a wonderful coda it would be.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial views.