By Julianne Malveaux
The previous President, also known as 45, or the Orange Man, or the Nutty Narcissist, kept our nation with his insanity for more than four years. President Biden is best advised to ignore his predecessor and should not even stoop to mention his name. Why not? The nation, even his rabid supporters, know the former was out of line, out of order, and out of control. He is also desperate for the attention that even his Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) sycophants could not offer. Reality can be grating, especially when someone accustomed to adulation finds the applause tepid, the plane out of order, the taxes under review, and more. President Biden gave Trump too much air in even mentioning his name at his March 25 press conference.
The press behaved as badly as President Biden. They focused on immigration, a Republican talking point that invokes the former, instead of concentrating on COVID and vaccinations, about which most Americans care. Not one question about COVID? Who are these press members, and what is wrong with them? If you polled people, the pandemic would rank much higher on a priority scale than immigration. But like sharks smelling blood in the water, or a possible Biden weakness, they surrounded and pounced (or whatever sharks do).
Meanwhile, several topics got short shrift in the hour-long press conference. The President likened the filibuster to Jim Crow law, but he shillyshallied around what he will do about it. President Biden, you have condemned racism, discrimination, and JimCrow in the past. Why can’t you come out more forcefully against the filibuster? You’ve had strong words about the new voter-suppressing Georgia laws. Why won’t you commit to federal action to ensure that we all have the right to vote?
Are you expecting a message in a bottle? Georgia Republicans seem to think that voting activists can send them. Otherwise, why would they make it illegal for people to offer a simple, humane gesture to people who have been standing in line for hours, a bottle of water? What could be more benign than handing someone standing in line for hours a bottle of water and a bag of chips or an apple? If President Biden got a message from a bottle I handed him, it would say, be firm, be firm. This racist attack on our democracy must not be tolerated.
We must consider President Biden’s point about timing. He knows the Senate better most, knows his former colleagues well enough to know their sensibilities. But he must also understand the nature of racist intransigence. Many Senate Republicans have chosen partisanship and obstruction over integrity and decency. Few of them are willing to retreat from their line in the sand.
President Biden must understand, though, that he would not be our nation’s elected leader if the laws that Georgia just passed existed in November 2020 or January 2021. There would be no Senators Warnock and Osoff, no Georgia electoral votes, no democracy. Instead, there would have been the continuation of anarchy with the former resting on his laurels, spewing more lies.
President Biden inherited a mess, no question. Still, he should never refer to the former and the mess he left again. If he were me, he might respond with any questions about the former with a dismissive, “the former is irrelevant.” The former needs to be treated as such. Whether it is immigration, COVID, the economy, or more, it’s President Biden’s ball of wax now. Continuing to mention the former gives him light he does not deserve. President Biden, and the rest of us, should keep that name in the dark. He can probably show up on Faux News whenever he wants to, but his rants look more like empty barks when nobody calls his name.
So, President Biden, you’ve been doing rather well in your first two-plus months as Presidents. You’ve got checks in the bank, shots in arms, and shelter for children at the border. You have infrastructure plans but must stand more firmly against efforts to erode our democracy. And it would be best if you did not refer to your predecessor as anything but “the former.” Nor should the rest of us ever utter the former’s name. We must move forward and leave the devil in the dark.