Former Vice President Joe Biden did manage to say one thing true in his campaign launch video last Thursday. We really are “in a battle for the soul of this nation.” It is a battle that, for the last two years, we have been winning. Not consistently. Not overwhelmingly. And not permanently – not by a long shot. There is much work left to be done and many hearts and minds to be won over. The battle will never be finished, actually. It could be said that Americans have been locked in this battle since the country’s inception. It has only become much more apparent and obvious over the last few years.
But that was the extent of the truth in Joe’s message. From there, he set fire to his rocket boosters and took off from a launch pad of fake news, smearing President Trump with a divisive and false interpretation of the comments he made after the Charlottesville riot. Counting on the fact that most of his potential voters would be primed to believe this nonsense by the mainstream media, Biden said he knew he must run for president when he heard Trump call the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville “very fine people.”
Of course, Trump did nothing of the kind. Indeed, the president went out of his way multiple times to make a careful distinction between the white nationalists shouting “Blood and Soil!” and the conservatives in attendance to stand up for the statue of Robert E. Lee. And he might not have even gotten into those distinctions if the media was not so hell-bent on painting him with some sort of responsibility for the violence.
“What about the alt-left?” he asked. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.”
The media picked up the narrative that Trump was now putting fascists and anti-fascists in the same boat, and in a way…he was. Because speech is speech, marching is marching, and violence is violence. Trump was not condemning the ideology of the alt-left; he was condemning their violent and reckless behavior. He was absolutely right to do so.
“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” he continued. “But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.”
Later, stirring the pot, a reporter asked: “You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are the—”
“Yes,” Trump said. “I think there’s blame on both sides. If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either. And if you reported it accurately, you would say.”
“The neo-Nazis started this,” the reporter said. “They showed up in Charlottesville to protest –“
“Excuse me, excuse me,” Trump said. “They didn’t put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group. Excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”
To believe that Trump praised Neo-Nazis as “very fine people” or the moral equivalent of leftist protesters is not only ridiculous on its face but completely contrary to what actually happened. This was fake news on its face from the moment the media ran with that narrative, and it remains fake news nearly two years later.
If Biden really wants to prove he’s in a fight for the “soul of our nation,” he can start by bringing some honesty back to the Democratic Party. So far, it’s not looking so good.