On Saturday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden spoke to the National Guard, pledging to never use the military branch as a “prop” for “politics or personal vendettas,” suggesting that President Donald Trump has done exactly that during the George Floyd riots that have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. Biden promised to stand up for the National Guard as president, castigating Trump for allegedly failing to do so.
“I’ll restore respect for our civilian-military relations. That’s the bedrock principle of our republic. You know, it’s been tested lately,” the former vice president said in a speech to the virtual National Guard Association of the United States’ 142nd General Conference.
“But I promise you as president, I’ll never put you in the middle of politics or personal vendettas. I’ll never use the military as a prop or as a private militia to violate the rights of fellow citizens. That’s not law and order. You don’t deserve that,” Biden insisted.
The Democrat explicitly condemned Trump for “standing and recommending that you should be deployed to ‘dominate’ your fellow citizens exercising their rights to peacefully protest and threatening if governors didn’t do something, the president would.”
Yet when the president insisted that local and federal law enforcement and perhaps even the National Guard should “dominate” the streets, he was responding to the violent and destructive riots in cities across America which have continued sporadically for more than three months now.
Biden acknowledged that the National Guard has “been called out to help keep the peace as the country continues to struggle and overcome our racial justice crisis,” a reference to the National Guard restoring peace in Kenosha, Wisc. Yet he clearly demonized Trump’s law-and-order rhetoric, claiming that using the military as a “prop” or as a “private militia” violates the “rights of citizens.”
Biden refused to condemn the violent riots for months, perhaps knowing that the antifa and Black Lives Matter agitators causing the mayhem are part of the Democratic base. While he finally condemned the riots this week, after almost 90 nights of violent riots in Portland, Biden initially attacked Trump for sending officers who were “brutally attacking peaceful protesters.” He made no mention of the rioters’ violent attacks, which included setting the federal courthouse and the police union on fire, aiming mortar fireworks into the courthouse windows and at officers, dumping feces into a police building and throwing feces at police protecting a precinct, and shining lasers into officers’ eyes, causing days of blindness.
This week, Biden finally attacked the rioters. “Protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary. But burning down communities is not protest — it’s needless violence, violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses and shutters businesses that serve the community. That’s wrong,” he said. This condemnation came far too late, however.
Even as Biden belatedly condemned the violence, his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) encouraged the protests that enable the violent riots, saying they will not stop even after Election Day.
“They’re not gonna stop. They’re not gonna stop,” Harris told Stephen Colbert. “That’s..this is a movement, I’m telling you. They’re not gonna stop. And, and, and everyone beware. Because…they’re not gonna stop before Election Day in November, they’re not gonna stop after Election Day. And that should be…everyone should take note of that. On both levels. That they’re not gonna let up. And they should not.”
“And we should not,” Harris added.
The former vice president’s remarks to the National Guard Association represent a return to form. Biden is attempting to cater to the rioters and their sympathizers by excusing them as “peaceful protesters” and demonizing Trump’s repeated calls for “law and order.”
During his National Guard speech, the Democratic nominee referenced the fact that his late son Beau Biden served in the guard, and he spoke movingly about fearing for Beau’s safety. Yet Biden also carried water for the violent looters and rioters who have wreaked havoc in American cities in an effort to score political points against his rival. That’s despicable.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.