President Joe Biden’s prime-time speech Thursday night, which featured a blood-red backdrop and a grim warning about the endangered “soul of America,” drew fierce reactions online, with critics branding the content divisive and the theatrics just plain weird.
Biden, who framed the upcoming midterm elections as a fight between good and evil, stood flanked by U.S. Marines outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Unusual red lighting cast a fiery glow on the brick building as Biden railed against supporters of former President Trump, who he said have taken over the Republican Party.
“MAGA Republicans have made their choice,” Biden declared. “They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth, but in the shadow of lies. Together, we can choose a different path.”
That was the most demagogic, outrageous, and divisive speech I have ever seen from an American president. Joe Biden essentially declared all those who oppose him and his agenda enemies of the republic. Truly shameful. pic.twitter.com/ZcJX2BbZlt
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 2, 2022
Critics called the speech divisive, but the strange stagecraft prompted equal outrage. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro called the speech “the most demagogic, outrageous, and divisive speech I have ever seen from an American president,” and posted a screenshot of Biden with his clenched fists raised and face contorted with passion.
“This image is the worst piece of presidential optics I have ever seen,” Shapiro wrote. “Let us count the reasons. 1. Lighting a historic American site — the site of our founding documents — blood red. 2. The red-and-black background against the front-lit visage of a grim old man screaming at Americans, fists clenched.”
Former ambassador to Germany and Trump’s acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell said Biden’s over-the-top condemnation of Trump supporters, who numbered 74 million in the 2020 election, was telling.
“This blood red setting and negative complaining about political opponents means one thing — Joe Biden is really nervous that Donald Trump is going to run again,” Grenell tweeted.
Former Trump White House press secretary and current Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany branded the background demonic and the rhetoric divisive.
“Standing in front of a hellish red background Biden called half the country, the MAGA Republicans ‘threats’ & ‘clear and present dangers,'” McEnany tweeted. “Then he says, ’empathy is the fuel of democracy-the willingness to see each other not as enemies but as fellow Americans…’!!!”
Biden has stepped up his rhetoric against political opponents in recent days, branding Trump supporters as “semi-fascists.” The White House insisted that his criticisms were not directed at all Republicans, although in the past, Biden has called moderate Republicans such as Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin extremists.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Biden has contributed mightily to division in America, and put his opponents’ safety in jeopardy.
“Joe Biden’s wretched attacks on millions of Americans have fueled attacks on pregnancy centers, Republican offices, and an assassination attempt on a Supreme Court Justice,” McDaniel said. “His agenda has pitted neighbors against each other, rewarded the wealthy while punishing working families, and trampled on the rights and freedoms of Americans. Joe Biden is the divider-in-chief and epitomizes the current state of the Democrat Party: one of divisiveness, disgust, and hostility towards half the country.”