Two Speeches, Two Americas

Jonathan Weisman in The New York Times: On Tuesday night, a triumphant Donald Trump looked out on an adoring crowd at his seaside mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. He evoked the halcyon days of his presidency when, in his telling, there were no wars, and the nation was universally admired and united in egalitarian prosperity. Then he declared, “Our country is dying.”

Two days later, President Biden looked out on a sharply divided audience and conjured the mirror image: a country that is now “literally the envy of the world.” He described a recent past as “one of the toughest periods in the nation’s history,” when crime was soaring, a deadly virus raged and the nation’s chief executive had “failed the most basic presidential duty” — “the duty to care.”

With the presidential election now fully engaged, two speeches two days apart laid out the choice that voters face, with visions of past, present and future that are diametrically opposed. But both men seemed to share the political goal of rallying their own base voters rather than the more traditional task of pivoting to the center to appeal to fence-sitters and foes.

In this tale of two speeches, both were strikingly partisan, delivered by a pair of elderly politicians beginning their general-election rematch with nods to their ages, hyperbolic warnings about this moment in history, prescriptions for the future — Trump’s vague, Biden’s specific, down to a potato chip portion — and visions for the nation as different as they could possibly be.

“I see a future for all Americans,” Biden’s speech concluded. “I see a country for all Americans. And I will always be a president for all Americans because I believe in America.”

“We’re going to have to deport a lot of people, a lot of bad people,” he said in concluding his 20-minute address, “because our countries can’t live like this, our cities are choking to death, our states are dying and, frankly, our country is dying, and we’re going to make America great again.”

Read the full article here.