Discover more from Hopium Chronicles By Simon Rosenberg
The Right-Wing Narrative About Biden is Collapsing
The GOP has a lot of problems right now. Biden's ongoing success may be the most electorally consequential.
Republican leaders are choosing to once again excuse and embrace Trump’s epic malevolence and ongoing betrayal of the country
McCarthy has lost control of the House, and may never get it back
the backlash to DeSantis’ extremist agenda in Florida is growing, as it should
a war has broken out between Fox News and Musk/Twitter/Tucker Carlson, just weeks after Fox was essentially found guilty of lying and helping stoke a domestic insurrection in the United States
the leader of CPAC, one of the right’s most influential organizations, has been accused of sexual assault and financial improprieties by his own staff
one of the right’s most important allies in the UK, Boris Johnson, just resigned from Parliament in disgrace
Rs are losing in the early 2023 elections, as they did in the battlegrounds in 2022
The corruption of the Roberts Court is now undeniable
But of the all GOP’s challenges, and there are so, so many, the most consequential may be the clear across-the-board success of the Biden Presidency. It is making the fictional “worst President in history” narrative the right-wing noise machine has invested so much in impossible to maintain. Let’s revisit some of their attacks/memes given recent events:
The border is out of control - the system Biden inherited from Trump was a mess, and there have been lots of problems, but under the President’s new policies illegal crossings are now down 70% and the chaos many expected when Title 42 ended in early May have not materialized. What’s happening on the border now is a story of success and good governance, not open borders and failure.
The economy is terrible - in this post we go through some of the top-line rebuttals to this ridiculous argument, but to repeat the most important:
strongest COVID recovery of any advanced economy in the world
Job growth remains remarkably robust, GDP growth over 3%, 3 times Trump’s 1%. No recession on the horizon. The economy remains very strong
In recent months record lows in unemployment/uninsured/poverty rates
Deficit has come way down under Biden after rising every year of the Trump Presidency
Where a lot of “the economy is terrible” narrative comes from is the inflation we and every other advanced economy in the world has faced due to COVID, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Saudi Arabia’s ongoing effort to raise energy prices. But as Rob Shapiro writes in a new Washington Monthly essay, inflation has come down much further than is reflected in today’s discourse:
For example, the latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows that prices for consumer goods and services (technically, the “deflator” for personal consumption spending) increased an average of 0.2 percent per month in February and March of this year. On an annual basis, that comes to 2.6 percent inflation, or less than half the 5.6 percent rate in 2022….
inflation increased by 0.3 percent in February and 0.1 percent in March, which, looking forward, translates into yearly inflation rates of 3.8 percent and 1.4 percent. But that’s not what most people hear about because the annual inflation rates reported by the BEA and media for any month are based on how much prices increased over the year that ended that month. That translates into annual inflation rates of 5.1 percent for February and 4.2 percent for March because both rates incorporate the high inflation back from the spring and summer of 2022.
Look at this Tweet today from NBC’s Carl Quintanilla:
It is long past time for the narrative around the US economy to take into account all that has gone right, for we are in a remarkably strong place right now; and for us to keep pointing that once again, with Democrats, things get better in America.
Democrats are fiscally reckless - this one is an all time whopper. The last 3 GOP Presidents brought saw the deficit increase on their watch, the last 3 Dems saw it fall. The deficit increased every year under Trump and has gone down under Biden. The Republicans opposed the Biden budgets which took the deficit way down over the past two years and opposed this year’s budget which also would have taken the deficit down. The President touted the deficit reduction in the new bipartisan budget deal.
Democrats are waging a war on energy - More oil will be produced in the US in 2023 (see below) than ever before, US corporate energy profits in 2022 reached an all-time high, renewable production this year will account for 16% of our electricity generation, up from 8% in 2018. The investments the President is making in accelerating our domestic energy transition will only make us more and more energy independent and continue to bring down costs. However, you look at this picture, “the war on energy” meme is LOL ridiculous, and the only way you can really get there is by sitting in Riyadh or Moscow.
Crime is exploding - No question that during COVID crime rate went up, a trend which began under Trump. But things appear to be settling down now, with early 2023 data showing murder rates dropping 12% in 90 cities across the country. Even with modest increases in recent years violent crime rates remain a fraction of what they were a generation ago (with the exception of mass shootings of course) and murder rates remain much higher in red states.
America is not respected in the world - the data on this one is really clear, and again it’s a LOL ridiculous right-wing talking point.
This is just one example:
Democrats want America to be a fairer and more equitable country, and don’t want our kids dying in school - yep, got us! Republicans are deeply on the wrong side of these issues regardless of the discourse happening in their primary right now. Here’s data from USAToday/Ipsos on the question of what is woke, and a very instructive graph from Navigator:
The Republicans have gotten themselves into such a ridiculous place on these issues that DeSantis, a candidate who has built his campaign upon “freedom,” came out this weekend against renaming an Army base “Fort Liberty” -
The radical left/antifa is a violent, domestic terror movement - I’m sorry, what? We are all still waiting to see this radical left/antifa/BLM terror threat appear the way we are still waiting for the red wave. The invention of this “threat” by Trump and Barr in 2020 was among the most disgraceful and illiberal acts of the Trump era and was clearly designed to distract from the growing threat on the right.
Democrats want American laws to be applied to Republicans too, including a former President - yep, again. We sure do! Got us!
Republicans are in serious trouble right now. MAGA is an electoral dead-end; the House is ungovernable under their leadership; their standing by Trump the betrayer is going to cause them serious brand damage; the corruption in their ranks has become a serious problem; the venality of their noise machine has been exposed for all to see, and its leaders are turning on each other; their association with Putin, a genocidal maniac, is no longer tenable; and the fictions they’ve created about Biden are collapsing due to his strong leadership and smart, successful Presidency.
I started Hopium Chronicles in part because I wanted to more aggressively challenge the tornado of right-wing bullshit in our daily discourse that I think is doing so much harm to the country. It is in that vein that I think we need to recognize that MAGA is in a form of narrative collapse right now. The stories they’ve been telling us and themselves are being increasingly exposed as rancid, red wavy fictions. What they are saying is literally less true today than it was a few weeks ago, and that is going to make it harder and harder for them to distract the American people from how ugly their project has become.
All of this gives us a huge opportunity to go on offense now, be loud and proud about what we’ve done and who we are, far more aggressively challenge them in the daily info wars, and strive together next year to get to 55 and turn the election into a clear repudiation of their historic awfulness.
We are at an important moment. We need to seize it, together.
Keep working hard everyone - Simon