At first, I thought Joe Biden's address to the nation on Thursday was going to be one of those Star Wars crawl-type soliloquies that liberals love to deliver. You know the kind: "It is a period of great strife. RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS, pouncing from their TRUTH Social accounts, have struck at the very heart of OUR DEMOCRACY..."

The difference, though, is that in those addresses, the speaker at least tries to sound objective, to remain above the hurly-burly he's criticizing. This was not the approach taken by Joe Biden. Joining us from what looked like a cross...

At first, I thought Joe Biden’s address to the nation on Thursday was going to be one of those Star Wars crawl-type soliloquies that liberals love to deliver. You know the kind: “It is a period of great strife. RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS, pouncing from their TRUTH Social accounts, have struck at the very heart of OUR DEMOCRACY…”

The difference, though, is that in those addresses, the speaker at least tries to sound objective, to remain above the hurly-burly he’s criticizing. This was not the approach taken by Joe Biden. Joining us from what looked like a cross between Philly’s red-light district and some marble Pentagon imperium, Biden jumped straight into the ring with what he called the “MAGA Republicans.” I’ve been following politics for twenty years and I’ve never heard a president attack his own people so stridently.

Within the first sixty seconds, Biden called Donald Trump’s supporters “a threat to this country.” And then the maximum-dose hypocrisy kicked in. “MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution,” said the man who just usurped the power of the purse by canceling hundreds of billions in student loans. “They do not respect the rule of law,” said the dude whose party just two years ago was trying to defund the police. “They do not respect the will of the people,” said the guy who thinks those same people should have no say over abortion statutes.

And on it went. Biden castigated Republicans for questioning abortion and gay marriage, which he himself did not that long ago. He claimed they spread fear even as his entire spiel felt like it should have been delivered with a flashlight beneath his face. He warned they were making violent threats — yet has any politician so constantly and pathetically threatened to beat people up as Joe Biden? In 2018, he said he would have kicked Donald Trump’s ass in high school. In 2020, he threatened to fight an auto worker from Detroit.

If anything, Biden on Thursday demonstrated only that the culture war is symmetrical, that the rhetoric on both sides has reached an unsustainable pitch. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that he took such tough swings. This is the guy who last year compared Republicans to segregationists like George Wallace and Bull Connor. Any hope he was ever going to unite anyone was long ago drowned out amid his usual volume setting of “drunk auctioneer.”

But then that raises the question: if not to heal our wounds after the Trump years, why would anyone have voted for him? It certainly wasn’t for his razor-sharp policy acumen or youthful good looks. So what then? The main reason Biden was sent to the White House was that voters wanted a little calm and normalcy after a disruptive four years. Now, less than two years after that, he’s all but writing off a good chunk of his fellow countrymen as domestic terrorists. He’s become a combatant in the same political war he was elected to stop.

“MAGA Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and fear,” Biden hollered. It’s incredible how all these years later the Democrats have refused to learn anything from the Trump era. The words “American carnage,” spoken by Trump at his inaugural address, resonated with some precisely because their communities felt a little like that, because they’d been changed by opioids or deindustrialization or crime or all of the above. “Carnage”? That might have been a bit strong. But at least someone was trying to talk to them from the same plane of reality.

The solution is and always was to address these problems, to work to bring these people back into the national fold. That’s how you vanquish the election denialism and ugly conspiracy theories. Instead their president is treating them like the enemy — which will only drive them deeper into the MAGA maw. And around we go. All for a speech that was transparently aimed at driving out Biden’s political base. What a waste.