Michael Goodwin: Biden the divider – what happened to all the unity talk in his inaugural address?

Too bad Biden hasn’t practiced what he preached. Or even tried

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With all the bucks stopping on their desks, American presidents don’t often get to choose what problems to face. One exception is the inaugural address, where the slate is clean and they have an uncluttered chance to define themselves and how they want to be measured. 

Joe Biden’s inaugural speech was pedestrian at best, but its enduring virtue is that the new president left little doubt about his main focus. His presidency, he pledged repeatedly, would be devoted to healing a fractured nation. 

Speaking while the pandemic still raged and two weeks after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, he used variations of the words "unity" and "together" more than a dozen times, as when he declared: "Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation." 

After citing earlier national crises, from the Civil War to 9/11, Biden described how he would lead the nation to a better place. 

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"History, faith and reason show the way of unity," he said. "We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury." 

Excellent ideas. Too bad he hasn’t practiced what he preached. Or even tried. 

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Biden has pursued radical policies and a race-driven agenda that are by definition divisive, leading to doubts about whether there was an ounce of sincerity in his Jan. 20 address. 

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The evidence that he never gave national healing a chance is inescapable. It begins with the massively expensive, far-left bills his party introduced in Congress and includes the threats to kill the Senate filibuster and expand the Supreme Court unless Republicans say yes to everything. 

He is reversing nearly every policy of his predecessor, at home and abroad, even when they were successful. One result is the historic surge of illegal immigration at the southern border. 

Another is the incomprehensible decision to woo Iran back to the nuclear deal, complete with the promise to lift sanctions without gaining anything. And Biden’s decision to drop all objections to Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline makes him look like Vladimir Putin’s puppet. 

In each case, there was no discussion, no debate, no attempt to unite the nation behind him. 

In a party bursting with flamethrowers, the president stands out for the harshness of his rhetoric. 

The only saving grace in this madness is that Democrats can’t get all 50 of their senators to agree on the most sweeping legislative measures, including ending the filibuster and making DC a state, so much of the White House agenda is stalled. 

But not because Biden led by example and tried to bring the nation together. Far from it. In a party bursting with flamethrowers, the president stands out for the harshness of his rhetoric. 

He brazenly and repeatedly lies about the efforts in numerous states to reform voting laws. His claim that the demand for voter ID in Georgia and other states is the new Jim Crow is preposterous and proves he prefers fearmongering to facts. 

The whole notion that the legal changes are forms of voter suppression is belied by the fact that many blue states, including Biden’s home state of Delaware, have tighter rules than those he denounces elsewhere. 

The damage went beyond words when he urged Major League Baseball to pull its All-Star Game from Atlanta. For a president to encourage a boycott of an American city over a dispute with that state’s elected officials is rare – and outrageous. 

The gambit was a destructive stunt that hurt Atlanta businesses, many of them Black-owned, and painted Biden as willing to throw gasoline on the racial fires. 

He did it again in his July 13 speech in Philadelphia, where he foolishly insisted the new voting laws are "the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War." 

President Unity also attacked Republicans for not supporting Dems’ effort to pass a one-size-fits-all voting bill in Washington, asking "Have you no shame?" 

At this point, it is impossible to see such language as anything other than an intentional attempt to further divide the nation. It exposes the president as a hypocrite and reveals the desperation of his party. 

Following the gains Donald Trump and Republicans made among Black voters and, even more so, Latinos in 2020, Dems are acting as if their survival depends on racializing everything before next year’s midterms. 

They are doing it with a whole-of-government approach that uses federal agencies for political purposes. The Justice Department sued Georgia over its voting law, the Pentagon is indoctrinating soldiers with Black Lives Matter theories, the Department of Agriculture offered special aid only to Black farmers and the Department of Education supports teaching critical race theory in public schools. 

If that weren’t bad enough, Secretary of State Antony Blinken invited the bastion of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism, the United Nations, to investigate and lecture America on racial matters. 

All these events and others make it feel as if the inaugural address was given by another president in another era. 

Consider some of the other things Biden said back in January: "I will be a president for all Americans. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did." 

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And this: "We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility." 

Where is that guy? 

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