“With Malice Toward None”

By: Ken Willette – Sept.  2022

Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address ushered in a humanitarian and charitable tone to the soon-to-be concluded Civil War and its unspeakable horrors. A nation uncertain as to how to acclimate enemy combatants back to the Union witnessed Lincoln’s undeniable plea of forgiveness and mercy for past transgressions. Lincoln clearly set a direction for a still grieving nation recovering from war, which was forever shattered by his assassination.

The poetic beauty and true genius of Lincoln’s speeches involved a combination of directness, clarity, and brevity. Lincoln focused on the need to heal the nation, not to open old wounds. Biden’s recent primetime speech in Philadelphia represented the opposite of Lincoln’s visionary address.

Biden’s own inaugural address called for unity in a time of political violence, chaos, and pandemic. He did not single out a specific group for scorn or ridicule; he wanted to work with both blue and red factions. The speech in Philly was pure diatribe and venom, both unworthy elements of any U.S. President.

Biden singled out the MAGA crowd as the cause of most of the nation’s ills. POTUS proclaimed they seek the failure of America and represent a cancer in our society. Not exactly the optimistic philosophy of Kennedy and Reagan, who welcomed the contributions of the loyal opposition. Despite several legislative victories under his belt in recent weeks, Biden appeared both weak and petty despite the grandeur of the background.

Even shamelessly using Marines as stage props, which I never witnessed before in a domestic political speech, didn’t convey to me the immense power of the presidency. I had seen soldiers used before as televised symbols in military dictatorships, but never in a constitutional republic. This is obviously different when Bush, Obama and Clinton visited troops in war zones.

Sadly, Biden reminded me more of Carter’s Malaise Speech, also referred to as A Crisis of Confidence Speech. Carter focused on energy concerns and growing inflation (funny how things change and yet remain the same). In Carter’s speech, there is a real and tangible cry for help— a genuine sense of hopelessness and dread about the direction and future of the nation. That desperate and unfocused speech should never come from the President of the United States.

Even during our darkest hours, a President is supposed to guide us toward the light at the end of the tunnel, not through cheap attacks and rash decisions, but mature and long-term leadership.

Is Biden trying to tell us that if only MAGA supporters took their hats and flags home, then all our nation’s problems, even the unforced errors Biden inflicted upon us, will magically disappear? Biden talked incessantly about MAGA extremes and the escalation of violence.

Not that anyone on a certain committee that loves to bump The Bachelor to broadcast their hearings would care to learn, but I maintain a certain scorecard. To my knowledge, it was Antifa and Radical Leftists that occupied entire blocks in major downtown areas, stormed police precincts and drove away the legitimate government for the cities of Portland and Seattle. But a Vietnam Veteran MAGA, who served his country and paid his taxes, is the clear and present danger to our nation?

Reagan and Kennedy both reflected the boundless frontiers and limitless opportunities of a nation that challenged every generation. Imagine the domestic and foreign crises faced by Reagan back in 1981. Massive unemployment and inflation. The Evil Soviet Empire subjugating hundreds of millions of people. The build-up of nuclear weapons. Social Security slated to run out of money by 1983. Did Reagan open a suggestion box at the local library? Or give a speech questioning the soul of America? No, he got immediately to work.

One of the greatest advantages of not casting the opposition party as villains or destroyers of democracy is that you can accomplish achievements that impact generations to the present day. Reagan, a conservative Republican, and then House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a staunch liberal, put aside very different views on government and literally saved Social Security—the largest social safety net in human history.

Look at Biden’s unilateral student debt cancellation and his litmus test of real Americans and you are witnessing the sad destruction of bipartisanship. ◊