"Late-stage dementia": Trump erupts on Truth Social over Joe Biden's MAGA takedown

Trump bizarrely claimed that Biden's speech was a threat to use "military force"

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published September 2, 2022 9:19AM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump bizarrely claimed that President Joe Biden's forceful rebuke of "MAGA Republicans" on Thursday was a threat to use military force.

Biden, who recently described Trump's brand of right-wing ideology as "semi-fascism," delivered an impassioned takedown of Trump's wing of the Republican Party in a primetime speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

"Not every Republican, not even a majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology," he said. "But there's no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat to this country."

Trump on his Twitter knockoff Truth Social suggested that Biden's speech with two Marines standing behind him was a threat to use military force.

"If you look at the words and meaning of the awkward and angry Biden speech tonight, he threatened America, including with the possible use of military force," Trump wrote. "He must be insane, or suffering from late stage dementia!"

Trump took issue with Biden's characterization of his far-right movement.

"Someone should explain to Joe Biden, slowly but passionately, that MAGA means, as powerfully as mere words can get, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" he wrote. "If he doesn't want to Make America Great Again, which through words, action, and thought, he doesn't, then he certainly should not be representing the United States of America!"

Biden, of course, never threatened military force against "America" in his speech. Trump, who has a habit of projecting, came under severe criticism during his administration for threatening to use military force against racial justice protesters across the country in 2020. The House Jan. 6 committee also found evidence that Trump sought to use the Defense Department to "seize" voting machines while contesting his 2020 election loss, though he ultimately did not follow through with the plot.

Biden's speech focused on MAGA Republicans' anti-democratic views and attacks on law enforcement.

"MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people," he said. "They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country. They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 — brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots."

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While Biden sought to draw a contrast between MAGA Republicans and other Republicans, the GOP appeared to fully back Trump in response to the speech. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., gave a prebuttal speech on Thursday and argued that it was actually Biden who was waging an "assault on democracy."

"President Biden has chosen to divide, demean, and disparage his fellow Americans -- Why? simply because they disagree with his policies. That is not leadership," McCarthy said, demanding an apology for Biden's earlier "semi-fascism" remark.

Biden made the comment during a meeting with Democratic donors.

"What we're seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy," he said. "It's not just Trump, it's the entire philosophy that underpins the -- I'm going to say something: It's like semi-fascism."

Republicans have claimed to be offended at Biden's comments and roundly panned his speech on Thursday.

"With all due respect Mr. President, there's nothing wrong with America's soul," tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "The American people are hurting because of your policies."

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, claimed that Biden "vilified millions of Americans in a divisive & angry speech that was detached from the reality of his political failures. He isn't actually interested in restoring the soul of the nation, he's only interested pitting his fellow Americans against one another."

Right-wing Trump allies in the media echoed the former president's complaints as well. Fox News host Tucker Carlson called the speech "truly horrifying."

"But Joe Biden crossed into a very dangerous, very dangerous place. Tonight he declared in a speech in Philadelphia that anyone who disagrees with him is a threat to the country," he falsely claimed, calling the speech "truly nuts and threatening to the future of the United States."

Many of the right-wing criticisms appeared to be oddly similar to mainstream media backlash to virtually any Trump speech.

"That was the most demagogic, outrageous, and divisive speech I have ever seen from an American president," wrote conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. "Joe Biden essentially declared all those who oppose him and his agenda enemies of the republic. Truly shameful."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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