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Biden’s forceful Jan. 6 speech set the tone for saving democracy

Biden didn’t let the coup attempt’s plotters and enablers off the hook, including Donald Trump.

FILE - Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump riot outside the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. For many rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, self-incriminating messages, photos and videos that they broadcast on social media before, during and after the Jan. 6 insurrection are influencing even the sentences in their criminal cases. Among the biggest takeaways from the Justice Department’s prosecution of the Jan. 6 insurrection is how large a role social media has played, with much of the most damning evidence coming from rioters own words and videos. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) ORG XMIT: WX201
FILE - Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump riot outside the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
John Minchillo, AP Photos

In recounting the events of Jan. 6, 2021, President Joe Biden on Thursday delivered the speech America — and those who planned and carried out last year’s grotesque attack on the Capitol — needed to hear.

The direct and resolute speech rightly pointed an accusing finger at the rioters who violently stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to prevent Congress from validating the results of the November 2020 election.

But most significantly, Biden didn’t let the coup attempt’s plotters and enablers off the hook, including Donald Trump — although without mentioning the disgraced former president by name.

“Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy,” Biden said in the speech televised from the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

“For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election,” Biden said. “He tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob reached the Capitol. But they failed. They failed. And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again.”

‘You cannot love your country only when you win’

Biden’s 20-minute speech reminded Americans how awful the events a year ago really were, as he detailed how the riotous mob overran the Capitol, attacking police, journalists and others.

“This was an armed insurrection,”“Biden said. “They weren’t looking to uphold the will of the people. They were looking to deny the will of the people.”

Trump watched the events on television in the White House, Biden said, “doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives were at risk, and the nation’s capital under siege.”

The crowd had been ginned-up by weeks of false claims by Trump and his sycophants that the November presidential election was somehow stolen by the Democratic Party.

But Biden’s speech — as it should have — took straight aim at this madness, reminding the country that GOP-led court battles and recounts ended up validating the election results and found no evidence the balloting process had been hijacked in any way.

“You cannot love your country only when you win,” Biden said. “You cannot obey the law only when it is convenient. You cannot be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”

‘I will not shrink’ from the fight

It was also good to hear that Biden recognizes that he — and we as a nation — are in a fight that will determine if this republic survives as a democracy or dissolves into tyranny.

“I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either,” he said.

We hope this is a signal that the Justice Department, led by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, is going after much bigger fish and higher-ups involved in the insurrection.

More than 720 rioters and insurrectionists have been charged in connection with the attacks, Garland said in a speech Wednesday.

But most of those charged were hit with misdemeanors, although Garland said the lesser charges could help investigators move up the ladder. In other words, the small fish today could lead to larger ones tomorrow.

Garland said he “remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.”

As Biden said, “I will stand in this breach. will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy.”

But the dagger is already there. You can see the glint of the blade with every Trump loyalist’s defense of the rioters, with each attempt to curb voting rights, with every announcement of a run for public office by someone who continues to spread the Big Lie.

And removing that knife will take hard, courageous and painstaking work, to bring to justice everyone involved in the Jan. 6 plot.

Doing so is urgently necessary, to punish those who were involved in that day — and serve notice to those who might have the temerity to try it again.

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