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Republicans dishonestly tout Biden as soft on crime
Here’s an indicator of how much conservative Republicans really know about Joe Biden, which is to say not very much. Exhibit A: the opposition party seems to believe that the 46th president is soft on crime. Yeah, sure.
This would be the same Joe Biden who built his entire political career, spanning a half century, on a simple concept: pandering to working class white people who feel threatened by Black people. This is also the same Joe Biden who authored the racist 1994 crime bill, which fueled the era of mass incarceration of Black and brown folks, and then went around bragging that the bill did everything but hang people for jaywalking.
Let’s back up. The fact that the GOP is 180 degrees off the mark on Biden and crime really says something. It’s not like they just caught their first glimpse of the guy. Biden has been in public life and on the government payroll as a senator from Delaware, Vice President, and now President since 1973. That’s when he was first sworn into the Senate at the age of 30. He’s 80 now. After 50 years in politics, there are no surprises left with Old Joe. What we see is what we get. And by now, we should have seen it all.
Except, that is, for Republicans, who have apparently missed a hell of a lot. Maybe they were sleeping on Biden, or not paying attention. Maybe they’re not very bright or poor judges of character. Or maybe they’re so blinded by politics and ideology that the only song they know how to sing about any Democrat is that he or she (or fill in the blank) is … wait for it … soft on crime.
There it is. I don’t know where this familiar accusation comes from. Maybe the fact that advocacy groups like Legal Aid or the American Civil Liberties Union are replete with liberal Democrats. Or the fact that many Democrats opposed the three strikes law, which eliminated judicial discretion for multiple offenders, and also supported efforts to defund the police. Or could it be something more nefarious, something having to do with race? African Americans and Latinos vote for Democrats more often than Republicans. And as Republicans see it, these two groups dominate the crime blotter. However we got here, this is where we are. Republicans are stuck on stupid and locked into this narrative that all Democrats, including Biden, are soft on crime.
So naturally, Biden had to throw his critics and political opponents a curveball, just to keep them guessing and on their toes. The trouble is, this time, Biden’s maneuver had the very same effect on his allies and supporters. That story starts with the concept of self-governing and home rule for Washington DC. This idea is in the spotlight, due to efforts by local leaders in the nation’s capitol to modernize a municipal criminal code that’s about 100 years old. The DC City Council approved a local ordinance that eliminated mandatory minimum sentences and lessened penalties, even for violent crimes like carjacking. Score one for the lefties.
But Republicans in Congress objected. Under federal law in the 1970s, Congress has the right to review ordinances passed by the DC City Council, and it can reject those it finds troubling. House Republicans drafted a resolution that rejected the changes to the DC Criminal Code as unreasonable, even dangerous. Now, some House Democrats crossed party lines and voted with the GOP, but most of them oppose the resolution. Enter Biden who surprised fellow Democrats by siding with Republicans in supporting the resolution and opposing the changes made by the DC City Council. Later, Biden signaled in a tweet that if Democrats who control the Senate voted to overturn the DC reform efforts, he’d back their play. That’s just what happened. Score one for the moderates. Now, it’s back to the drawing board as the DC Council tries to come up with a new version that pleases both Biden and Congress. If the Republicans are right, which let’s face it, is almost never the case, and Biden is soft on crime, man, I’d hate to see what tough looks like.
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