Joe Biden spoke to a joint session of Congress Wednesday, night. If you saw it — and relatively few people did, judging by the numbers — then you know the confusing part started even before the speech began. It was the masks.
Everyone was wearing a mask, including the two stern ladies sitting right behind Joe Biden: the speaker of the House and the real president. They were masked up — all of them were — like outlaws. But here’s the weird part: all of them have been vaccinated. They’ve told us that. So there was literally no reason for any of them to be wearing masks, but they wore them anyway.
It was like everyone in the room had Münchausen Syndrome or some other fantasy-related psychological disorder. But we never did get to the bottom of that, because Joe Biden started talking.
Language is designed to communicate ideas, but not when Joe Biden uses it. Wednesday night’s speech was a cluster bomb of clichés meant to knock you senseless and make you surrender. Americans choose “hope over fear,” Biden droned, “truth over lies,” “light over darkness.” We lost track after that. Our brains shut down. Mission accomplished. The news media didn’t care. They didn’t even notice. They weren’t listening to him. They have no interest in what Joe Biden says. They got him elected. He’s their guy, and that’s that.
Technically, Biden is now the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world. Maybe someone, somewhere ought to keep track of what he’s doing. But no, reporters covered Joe Biden like he’s an actor on a press tour for the hot new summer blockbuster alongside his dazzling co-star, Kamala.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC: His use of voice modulation was rather extraordinary given the television era and it served as cover at times for unspooling an ambition in this speech that was Rooseveltian in size and scope.
VAN JONES, CNN: It was really beautiful. I mean, it was beautiful. He is developing a kind of positive populism.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC: He also talked about the soul of America and that was so passionate when he talked about the knee of injustice of the neck of Black America.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC: His connections to the people in this room – I’m not even sure if all of them are deserving of it. But he doesn’t care. He gives them the benefit of the doubt.
VAN JONES: And his voice, that kind of grandfatherly whispery voice and the fact that it actually wasn’t a big raucous crowd let that intimacy really land.
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC: Every single sentence had a very clear point to it and every line had that Biden humility in it.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC: He’s really trying to bring the country together. It was a Make America Feel Good night.
Wait a second. Was that the president of the United States talking? No, that’s what you thought. In fact, it was Jesus in aviator glasses. What Joe Biden said was beautiful. It was intimate. Grandfatherly. Indeed, Rooseveltian. Joe Biden spoke to the soul of America. He connected with people who didn’t even deserve to be connected with. Hopeless sinners, redeemed by his voice alone — a voice that is not, and we want to be clear about this, the fading monotone of a 78-year-old man losing his grip. No, it’s not. Joe Biden’s voice modulates. It has the capacity to change pitch in a way that is — and we’re quoting now — “rather extraordinary.”
We could keep going with this, if we wanted — cable news is a rich vein — but we’ll stop now and return to reality. A powerful politician gave a speech about how he plans to change your life. So, we feel obliged to tell you what he said and not simply commit a series of symbolic sex acts upon him. So what did Biden actually say? Well, he said that people who disagree with him are terrorists, more dangerous than the jihadist who destroyed the World Trade Center.
JOE BIDEN: One hundred days since I took the oath of office and lifted my hand off our family Bible and inherited a nation that was in crisis. The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.
Really? The worst attack on our democracy in 160 years? How about the Immigration Act of 1965? That law completely changed the composition of America’s voter rolls, purely to benefit the Democratic Party. That seems like kind of an assault on democracy, a permanent one. But no. That was a good thing, because, in the end, it helped Joe Biden.
What’s bad is when anyone other than Joe Biden has power. That’s an attack on democracy, and the people who commit that attack deserve to be in solitary confinement in the D.C. jail, even if they only, technically speaking, committed misdemeanor trespassing. So abandon those silly racist assumptions about how you have “rights” derived from some ancient piece of parchment decorated with a quill pen. The Bill of Rights? Come on. As Joe Biden reminded us last night, no constitutional amendment is absolute. They are subject to his approval:
JOE BIDEN: We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Don’t tell me it can’t be done … I’ll tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun but shouldn’t be able to buy a gun … And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater.
“No amendment to the constitution is absolute.” Good to know. Stupidly, we assumed the document was real. Now that we’ve learned the 19th Amendment isn’t absolute, it’ll be interesting to discover under what circumstances women can be prohibited from voting in elections. Good thing the suffragettes are gone. They’d be upset to hear this. And how about the 13th Amendment? That’s a big one. Now that Joe Biden has declared it up for negotiation, maybe he’ll tell us when it’s legal to enslave people. It turns out that abolition wasn’t really “absolute.” The only thing that is absolute at this point is the power of the Democratic Party. And don’t you dare resist it.
“You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater,” Biden pointedly told us last night. But of course, that depends entirely on the condition of the theater. If it actually is on fire, you should say so, loudly. If you think the presidential election was stolen, by God, speak up. That’s the right that’s really at stake here — the right to speak your conscience. To say the obvious. To tell the truth.
That was very much the right at stake in the summer of 1917, when an earlier Democratic administration arrested a man called Charles Schenck. Schenck was a socialist who opposed America’s entry into the First World War, the Iraq War of its day. Schenck had 15,000 pamphlets printed. They didn’t advocate violence, they argued against the military draft, which he believed was unconstitutional.In fact, the headline of the essay was, “Long live the Constitution of the United States,”
Woodrow Wilson promptly had him arrested. Federal agents raided Schenck’s office, seized his pamphlets, and carted him off to jail. He was charged and convicted under the Espionage Act, then sent to federal prison. And it wasn’t just him.
The Wilson administration prosecuted thousands of other Americans for daring to oppose its policies. The phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” comes from the Supreme Court case Schenck vs. United States, which resulted from those arrests. According to a reading of the case the Wilson administration preferred, Charles Schenck was not exercising his First Amendment rights by disagreeing with the White House. He was “shouting fire in a crowded theater,” endangering the public. He was a criminal who deserved jail.
Joe Biden knows all this, of course. He was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That’s one of the most famous Supreme Court cases in history. Biden is squarely on Woodrow Wilson’s side of the argument, the side that crushes civil liberties in order to achieve political imperatives. Just recently, Biden once again obliquely referred to the Schenck case while speaking at the White House:
BIDEN, APRIL 8: But no amendment, no amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can’t yell … “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech.
So, you can’t yell “Fire”, even if the theater’s burning. You must read the script. That’s the message. You thought you could say what you wanted in a free country. That was your birthright. But it’s not anymore. Your opinion isn’t legitimate if it deviates from Joe Biden’s opinion. You yourself aren’t legitimate. If you disagree with Joe Biden or the afternoon panel on MSNBC that represents him, you’re a White supremacist. By definition, you have lost your rights. The national security state has determined that you’re a terrorist.
BIDEN: And we won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today. White supremacy is terrorism. We’re not going to ignore that either. My fellow Americans. Look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation.
We have to come together to heal the soul of the nation by attacking our fellow Americans using a phrase no one will define.
What does coming together mean? Well, it means that because of a concept called “White supremacy,” a phrase often invoked, but never defined, your civil liberties have been suspended. (By the way, the whole point of the Derek Chauvin murder trial was to inform you of that.) Traditionally in this country, we’ve forced ourselves to assume criminal defendants are innocent until proven otherwise, even if we have video. That’s our system; innocent until proven guilty. Not anymore.
Once you’ve been identified as a White supremacist, you don’t get a fair trial. You’re not entitled to one. A sitting member of Congress can threaten to burn a city down if you’re not convicted, and the people in charge will applaud her as she does. Even if a jury does somehow acquit you, you’ll still be found guilty. That was the plan in Derek Chauvin’s case. The Justice Department made plans to arrest him immediately if the jury found him innocent. So if he was acquitted, he was going to be arrested anyway. He had to be guilty. Period.
Now, there was a time, like twenty minutes ago, where charging someone twice for the same crime was called double jeopardy. It’s unconstitutional and always has been. But not anymore. Now that White supremacists roam the land, no right is absolute.
That was the message of last night’s speech: The only remaining principle in this country is that you can’t oppose the people in charge.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani learned that the hard way Wednesday when federal agents raided his home and took his files. By our count, Giuliani is at least the third attorney to have his personal communications with former President Donald Trump seized by the Justice Department. We sense a theme here.
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson’s opening commentary on the April 29, 2021, edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”