According to a weekend story in German-owned Politico, one of the men behind President Joe Biden’s divisive Thursday night speech is a Vanderbilt professor who has long been mired in controversy for his far-left political leanings.
“The actual writing of the speech started about three weeks ago, with Jon Meacham, the historian who has had a hand in a number of Biden’s most sweeping speeches, helping the framing,” according to Politico.
Meacham teaches at Vanderbilt University, where he is a professor of political science and holds the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency. The speech that he framed for President Biden was directed at supporters of former President Donald Trump – 74 million strong – whom Biden, painting with a broad brush, labeled as extremists and a threat to democracy itself.
“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards,” said Biden in Philadelphia last Thursday. “Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose. No right to privacy. No right to contraception. No right to marry who you love.”
“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,” he said.
Meacham was formerly employed at MSNBC before he became part of Biden’s transition team after the 2020 election. He was released from the network at that time, but had often touted Biden’s campaign speeches on the network, which many suspect he himself had written or helped write while still working for the news organization.
In October of 2020, Meacham derided Trump supporters by saying they were afflicted with what he calls “lizard brain.”
“The question for America is how big [Trump’s] base is,” he said on television at the time. “There is a lizard brain in this country. Donald Trump is a product of the white man’s, the anguished, nervous white guy’s lizard brain.”
That is a reference to what Meacham sees as the primitiveness of Trump’s supporters.
Psychology Today explains:
It is the part of the brain that is phylogenetically very primitive. Many people call it the “Lizard Brain,” because the limbic system is about all a lizard has for brain function. It is in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing up, and fornication.
Meacham’s politics have seeped into the classroom, too.
A political science course, taught by Meacham at Vanderbilt, labeled America’s Founding Fathers as “white supremacists.” (Meacham still serves as a Trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation).
“Was the Constitution designed to perpetuate white supremacy and protect the institution of slavery?” Meacham asked on a quiz, according to Young America’s Foundation, which obtained a copy of the test.
The correct answer was “yes,” according to a student tipster who lost academic points for answering “no.”
Meanwhile, Meacham is the co-chair of something called The Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy.
Vanderbilt describes the program as follows:
American democracy in the 21st century is struggling amid deep polarization. While disagreement is democracy’s oxygen, not since the Civil War have so many Americans held such radically opposed views not just of politics but of reality itself. The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, working in concert with the university’s world-class faculty, will elevate the role of research and evidence-based reasoning into the national conversation. Drawing on original content anchored on facts and evidence, the Project seeks to make a meaningful contribution to bridging America’s deepest differences.
“Jon Meacham, co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, and Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency, is a renowned presidential historian, contributing writer to The New York Times Book Review, contributing editor at TIME, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author,” according to his biography page.
In 2018, his book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, was published by Random House.
Biden has used variations of that phrase frequently in recent weeks, both before and after his divisive speech.
“MAGA proposals are a threat to the very soul of this country,” he said Sunday.
MAGA proposals are a threat to the very soul of this country.
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 4, 2022
“Everything we stand for rests on the platform of democracy. Those who threaten that platform, threaten the soul of this nation,” he said Saturday.
Everything we stand for rests on the platform of democracy.
Those who threaten that platform, threaten the soul of this nation. pic.twitter.com/fP5a7jfkaF
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 3, 2022
“Join me as I deliver remarks on the continued battle for the soul of the nation,” he said Thursday, just before his speech.
Join me as I deliver remarks on the continued battle for the soul of the nation. https://t.co/VF5kPclCXs
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 2, 2022
The Tennessee Star asked Meacham, through his representatives at ICM Partners, to confirm or deny that he helped craft President Biden’s Philadelphia speech, but did not receive a response before press time.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jon Meacham” by University of Kentucky. Background Photo “Joe Biden” by The White House.