When the president visited Scranton last week, a woman held a homemade sign with that very message.
In Boise, a retired gunsmith hung a flag from his roof with an almost identical message, adding: “And f— you for voting for him!”
These are among the episodes compiled by the Washington Post, which says “the anger…demonstrates how a political party or cause often needs an enemy, a target of vilification that can unite its adherents — and, in this case, one refracted through the harshness, norm-breaking, and vulgarity of the Trump era.”
Now hold on just a moment.
First, I’m not wringing my hands over this. Presidents have been cursed, slammed, slimed, and otherwise taunted since we had a republic. Booing them at baseball games is a longstanding ritual. The founders themselves were vilified in newspaper screeds in fiercely partisan newspapers. Protesting is an American birthright.
Second, to blame this on the “norm-breaking” of the Trump years is a one-sided view. Donald Trump was subjected to four years of relentlessly awful slander, whether F-bombs were dropped or not. He was called a psychopath and a sociopath, a white supremacist, and a misogynist, and likened to Hitler and Mussolini. And some of that invective was dished out by media commentators, not average Joes hanging a sign on a roof.
So let’s not get our knickers in a twist because Biden is starting to get similar treatment, though not from most of the press.
Now I can imagine the tweeters that will be triggered by this piece. The Trump loyalists will say he was mistreated but Biden really is a clueless, senile socialist and deserves to be denounced. The Biden backers will say Trump is a crazy fascist threatening democracy and it’s the current president who’s being mistreated. That is our tribal politics.
The useful question posed by the Post piece is how Biden, at 78, became this sort of target. One of his “political superpowers was his sheer inoffensiveness, the way he often managed to embody — even to those who didn’t like him — the innocuous grandfather, the bumbling uncle, the leader who could make America calm, steady, even boring again after four years of Donald Trump.” Boring was good.
But now, Biden is “increasingly becoming an object of hatred to many Trump supporters,” fueled in part by the former president’s unproven claims that the election was stolen from him.