They Did What in the Capitol Hallways?

Biden refers to rioters 'defecating'; a look at reaction to the big Jan. 6 speech
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2022 9:00 AM CST
They Did What in the Capitol Hallways?
Capitol Police with some of those who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Assessments and reaction to President Biden's speech Thursday on the anniversary of the Capitol riot continue to roll in. Some of those in circulation:

  • A detail: In a tweet, NPR's Steve Inskeep calls attention to a jarring detail in which Biden referred to rioters as "literally defecating in the hallways." The full line from the president: "Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways? Rifling through the desks of senators and representatives? Hunting down members of Congress. Patriots? Not my view." (A USA Today fact-check from last year reports that rioters did smear "blood and feces" around the building.)
  • Big lines: Axios calls attention to two passages it thinks are "keepers" from the Biden speech. The first: "You can't love your country only when you win. You can't obey the law only when it's convenient. You can't be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies." The second: "I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy."
  • Full text: Read the transcript of Biden's speech via US News.

  • The best? At CNN, Chris Cillizza thinks "You can't love your country only when you win" was the best line of all. It's a "hugely important one if we hope to fully come to grips with what happened last January 6 and everything that led to that moment," he writes.
  • Or the worst? From the right, the site Twitchy suggests that very same line—"You can't love your country only when you win"—was actually the worst. It rounds up tweets accusing Biden of hypocrisy. "It's almost as if you have zero recollection of Trump's 4 years in office as you cried like a petulant child," reads one example.
  • The strategy: One thing both sides agree on is that Biden went after Donald Trump—though he never mentioned him by name—more forcefully than he has to date as president. The Washington Post digs into how that strategy unfolded. Because it was an anniversary speech, "Biden felt he had no choice but to directly address Trump’s culpability in the Capitol insurrection last Jan. 6 and the threat he poses to democracy," per the story. Biden was "deeply involved" in the writing of the speech, though the shift in strategy in regard to Trump may not be permanent.

  • Strategy, II: CNN has a similar analysis, noting that planning for the speech began about 6 weeks ago, with Biden coming to the sessions with "distinct views on the tone." The story describes the speech as a "deeply personal moment" for Biden.
  • Why no mention? So why didn't Biden name Trump instead of just referring to the "former president" 16 times in his speech? "I did not want to turn it into a contemporary political battle between me and the president," he told reporters afterward. "It’s way beyond that."
(Read more Capitol riot stories.)

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