Are Republicans 'semi-fascists'? Biden’s ‘basket of deplorables’ moment won’t play well.

Remember when Hillary Clinton said this? "To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," the then-Democratic presidential nominee said at a fundraiser in 2016. "Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it."

This didn’t sit well with many voters, and Clinton was forced to walk back her comments to the supporters of then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. If anything, her comments energized Republicans.

No one likes to be called names or painted with such a broad brush.

President Joe Biden apparently missed that memo.

‘It’s like semi-fascism’

Last week, at a fundraiser for Democrats in Maryland, Biden went after Trump supporters and the former president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan in a big way: "What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy. It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the – I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”

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President Joe Biden speaks to a crowd in a overflow room at a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee on Aug. 25, 2022, in Rockville, Md.
President Joe Biden speaks to a crowd in a overflow room at a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee on Aug. 25, 2022, in Rockville, Md.

So much for the "unity" Biden pledged in his inaugural address. Those are strong words, and they are patently offensive to the more than 74 million Americans who cast their vote for Trump in 2020.

Biden is likely to double down on this rhetoric during a prime-time speech Thursday in which he’s expected to return to a campaign theme of the “battle for the soul of the nation.”

Sure, there are bad actors in the Republican Party, and Trump has done everything he can to keep attention on himself and his claims of a stolen election.

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Do Democrats really care about democracy?

Biden plans to talk about how the rights and freedoms of Americans are under attack, but it’s all a campaign ploy to help raise support for Democrats, who face a tough election fight in the midterms. Americans remain most concerned about the economy and high inflation, and Democrats are eager to deflect attention away from those concerns and Biden’s low approval numbers.

But it’s laughable to think of Biden as the arbiter of democracy.

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Since taking office, Biden has relied on his executive power time and again in ways that exceed his authority. The courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have kept striking down these edicts.

Most recently, he used his pen to magically “cancel” up to $20,000 in student loan debt for millions of borrowers (i.e. he dumped the debt on taxpayers), even though Biden himself last year acknowledged he didn’t think he had the authority to do that. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the same thing.

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Never mind the separation of powers – fundamental to our democracy – when it behooves the Democrats in furthering their agenda.

Beyond the hypocrisy, Biden’s name-calling and condescension to such a large swath of the country shouldn’t be forgotten.

More from Ingrid Jacques:

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Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at ijacques@usatoday.com or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden calls Trump, MAGA supporters 'semi-fascists.' That's not OK.