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Joe Biden's F-word problem

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 10/3/2022 Washington Examiner
President Joe Biden speaks at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia on Sept. 1. © Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images President Joe Biden speaks at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia on Sept. 1.

Literally,” President Joe Biden said at a Democratic fundraiser last week, “there’s a case being made around the world, not just here, because democracy and autocracy.” That wasn’t even a sentence, but you get the idea. He continued, “You just saw what’s happened in Italy in that election. You’re seeing what’s happening around the world. The reason I bother to say that is, you can’t be sanguine about what’s happening here either.”

In insinuating that democracy is under attack because of a healthy democratic election result, Biden was not just spouting his typical divisive rhetoric. He was leveling a direct insult at a foreign ally — Giorgia Meloni, the conservative Italian politician. Meloni, having worked through the democratic process and won an impressive majority in last month’s election, will be Italy’s next prime minister. Biden wasted no time weakening America’s standing in the world to score a few cheap political points when he insulted her before meeting her. Perhaps Biden feels there are too many world leaders still willing to take his phone calls.

Not that the word "fascist" still means anything — Biden has called everyone who disagrees with him a "semi-fascist" — but Meloni is not a fascist in any meaningful sense of the word. Her party’s economic and social programs do not resemble those of Italy's long-gone and unlamented Fascist regime. Even the claim that her party "has roots in Fascism" is a stretch — it could have been applied just as easily to Silvio Berlusconi, and for exactly the same reasons (the now-defunct party involving some former fascists, which also used a torch as its symbol, merged with Berlusconi's party more than a decade ago). But Meloni, a single mother with an inspirational life story and a sharp tongue, is seen as a much greater threat to the Left than the clownish Berlusconi ever was. Meloni is therefore the one who receives the honor of their “f-bombs.”

We will start worrying about fascism the moment Meloni invades Abyssinia, changes Italian pronouns, declares a one-party state, or crosses the Alps to meet with Hitler. Until then, American journalists should stop showing how lazy they are with all the “Mussolini” comparisons.

In reality, Meloni seems relatively friendly to U.S. interests for a right-leaning European. On domestic issues, she talks like a typical mainstream conservative Republican from any time since the 1980s. On foreign policy, she is far less extreme than the average European rightist. Meloni is solidly opposed to Vladimir Putin and his naked, unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. She intends to keep Italy involved in that struggle. She is far more pro-European than most other European right-wing movements nowadays, both inside and outside of her own country.

Meloni supports staying within the Eurozone and remaining part of NATO. She is appropriately adversarial toward China, whose bullying of smaller European nations poses a genuine threat — which is to say, not like the pretend threats that Biden talks about.

In all of these respects, Meloni’s program seems considerably less extreme in its own context, and considerably less threatening to American interests, than that of her junior coalition partner, former Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.

The idea that Biden would insult the new leader of the European Union's third-largest country without knowing anything about her, and before even meeting with her, is just one more self-inflicted embarrassment upon himself and his country.

Sadly, the English-speaking world is decades beyond the point where the word "fascism" had any sort of meaning. Biden has been working especially hard to demonstrate this with his domestic campaign rhetoric.

Having already tried to brand parents as domestic terrorists for daring to object to grave problems with their local education systems, Biden recently delivered a speech featuring members of the military in the background, calling everyone who opposes him a threat to democracy. If you want to know what actual fascistic behavior looks like, Biden's speech was it.

Biden, unlike Meloni, is doing what authoritarians frequently do — citing a public incident (for Biden, it’s the 2021 Capitol riot; for others, it was the Reichstag fire) as pretext for an authoritarian crackdown against political opponents.

Biden’s behavior — between this and his recent, flagrant attempts to usurp congressional power — is a direct attack on democracy itself. And considering his misuse of the military in that blood-red-background speech, leaders at the Pentagon should be thinking carefully about just how far they are willing to follow his orders.

Voters should also consider this as they watch Biden humiliate their country on the world stage. A president who talks so much smack about fascism, even at the expense of national unity and foreign policy goals, is probably just projecting.

 

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Tags: Editorials, Joe Biden, Italy, Giorgia Meloni, fascism

Original Author: Washington Examiner

Original Location: Joe Biden's F-word problem

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