by Matt Taibbi at Racket News
Last week, when President Biden addressed the media ahead of a crucial vote on Ukraine spending, there were a few notes he considered important enough to hit twice, including this one:
Extreme Republicans are playing chicken with our national security, holding Ukraine’s funding hostage to their extreme partisan border policies.
If the phrase felt a little light, it’s probably because you’re used to hearing Biden use another term, “Extreme MAGA,” which he did, for a long time, until the White House was warned by the Office of Special Counsel that invocations of “MAGA” may constitute Hatch Act violations. Presidents are ostensibly barred from using their title for electioneering purposes, so “extreme MAGA Republicans” become merely extreme in official appearances.
As Racket’s inimitable Matt Orfalea documents, however, the restraints come all the way off in campaign fundraisers. It seems in every appearance now Biden offers some combination of “extreme,” “MAGA,” “Republican,” and “determined to destroy democracy,” with the occasional “that sounds like hyperbole, but” as a setup line. And Biden, as relentless a catchphrase-deliverer as recent American politics has seen, goes there every time.
All presidential candidates repeat words, of course. Campaign strategists long ago realized political audiences don’t require coherent sentences, and respond to hearing words they like said over and over. “Responsibility” worked for Republicans, for instance, while “compassion” or “innovation” were typical Democratic choices. For Donald Trump, “radical left” is one of this year’s crutches. Still, Trump seems headed in a more unscripted direction, recently for instance bringing Pat Buchanan back to life and calling Steve Bannon “the greatest bullshit artist I’ve ever heard,” while his opponent has become more repetition-dependent…Continue Reading