Republican senator Tim Scott has been rebuked for inaccuracy over his rebuttal to US president Joe Biden’s address to Congress, with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace declaring he is “from a planet where facts don’t matter”.
The president told assembled representatives on Wednesday evening that his first 100 days in the White House had been marked by “crisis and opportunity”, declaring that “America is rising anew” and detailing his plans to revive the economy following the coronavirus pandemic and tackle the climate emergency in a sweeping speech.
Delivering the opposition response, the GOP’s only Black senator insisted that the US is not a racist country, despite describing racial prejudice he had experienced himself, and attacked Mr Biden for not delivering the unifying leadership he had pledged as a candidate.
“Our president seems like a good man. His speech was full of good words. But President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership,” Mr Scott said as he opened his remarks.
“But our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes.”
The South Carolina senator went on to argue, falsely, that Mr Biden had “inherited a tide that had already turned” on Covid-19, despite the US still recording thousands of daily deaths from the virus in January when he took office, with limited vaccine distribution infrastructure left in place by the preceding Donald Trump administration, whose response to the pandemic was riddled with dysfunction.
It was this claim in particular that infuriated Ms Wallace, who responded during MSNBC’s coverage: “This is a speech delivered from a planet where facts don’t matter, which is where the current Republican Party resides. It’s really not his fault, but it is his responsibility to get his facts straight.”
She continued: “Four thousand people a day were dying in January so I don’t know, again, on what planet we had rounded the bend and Operation Warp Speed didn’t do anything to get a needle into an arm so a lot of disinformation. It felt almost scripted by someone close to the president [Mr Trump], who wanted that revision.”
Ms Wallace, a former communications director to 43rd president George W Bush, also took Mr Scott to task over his party’s efforts to install voting restrictions in Georgia after Mr Biden’s win there and the subsequent election of Democratic senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, moves that will disproportionately target African Americans.
“The state of Georgia passed a law that expands early voting; preserves no-excuse mail-in voting; and, despite what the president claimed, did not reduce Election Day hours,” Mr Scott said in his speech.
“If you actually read this law, it’s mainstream. It will be easier to vote early in Georgia than in Democrat-run New York. But the left doesn’t want you to know that. They want people to virtue-signal by yelling about a law they haven’t even read.
“Fact-checkers have called out the White House for misstatements. The president absurdly claims this is worse than Jim Crow. What is going on here? I’ll tell you. A Washington power grab.”
Ms Wallace responded to that by telling her co-host, Joy Reid, that the Georgia law was “reprehensible”.
“The reason Major League Baseball left isn’t because it makes it easier to vote in Georgia than in Democratic-run New York,” she said.
“If you’re so proud of the lie, tell the truth about it. The lie would have removed Republican [secretary of state] Brad Raffensperger from a decision-making place so it’s just disingenuous to say ‘the law is so good, we’re so proud of it’. If it were that good, Major League Baseball wouldn’t have moved that game.”
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