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Opinion | Tuberville twists D-Day’s legacy, attack Biden, echoes Kremlin talking points

Biden’s speech at Pointe du Hoc echoed past presidents who marked D-Day by urging the nation and the free world to stand against tyranny.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is seen in the U.S. Capitol before the Senate passed procedural votes on the House passed foreign aid package on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
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In an audacious display of historical ignorance and partisan grandstanding, Alabama’s senior U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville chose the solemn occasion of D-Day to launch an attack on President Joe Biden. Tuberville claimed that Biden “turned a speech honoring heroes into a Ukraine pep rally.” This, from a man whose grasp of history is as tenuous as his commitment to truth.

Biden’s speech at Pointe du Hoc resonated with the echoes of past presidents who marked D-Day by urging the nation and the free world to stand against tyranny and injustice. On June 6, 1984, President Ronald Reagan addressed those gathered in Normandy with a powerful call for European leaders to remain steadfast during a tense Cold War period. Reagan’s speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, described his remarks in the Wall Street Journal as a “speech within the speech,” addressing contemporary struggles as much as commemorating past heroics.

Reagan’s address touched on the crises within the Western Alliance, where peace movements in Britain, West Germany, and Italy sought to halt the U.S.-Soviet arms race, which threatened global annihilation. Today, Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine threatens the fragile peace established after WWII. Yet, Tuberville and his ilk either fail to grasp this threat or are willingly serving as Putin’s pawns. Their rhetoric echoes the misinformation propagated by former President Donald Trump, a known admirer of the Russian strongman.

As Noonan reflects, Reagan comprehended the danger of his time, much like Biden does now. “That’s why he spoke at such length of all the Allied armies at D-Day, not only the Americans. It’s why he paid tribute to those armies’ valor—to remind current leaders what their ancestors had done. It’s why he talked about ‘the unity of the Allies.’ ‘They rebuilt a new Europe together,’” Noonan wrote.

During Biden’s D-Day address, the president drew parallels between the fight against the Axis powers and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war. He asserted that “Ukraine has been invaded by a tyrant bent on domination,” lauded Ukrainian military accomplishments, and affirmed the U.S.’s commitment to stand with Ukraine.

In contrast, Tuberville and his GOP colleagues are parroting rhetoric straight from the Kremlin. Tuberville recently said, “He [Putin] doesn’t want Ukraine. He doesn’t want Europe. Hell, he’s got enough land of his own. He just wants to make sure that he does not have United States weapons in Ukraine pointing at Moscow.” He even had the gall to label Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as “a dictator.”

It is worth remembering that when Trump was in France in 2018, he reportedly referred to the 2,289 American service members buried at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery as “losers” and “suckers,” an outlandish remark that represents a dereliction of duty in his role as commander in chief.

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How could we as a nation have fallen from the leadership of Reagan to a president who reportedly calls our fallen service members losers and suckers?

Tuberville shows the same reprehensible character and dereliction of duty in his role as Alabama’s Senator. His recent comments on D-Day not only misrepresent the significance of Biden’s speech but also undermine the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedoms. Like Trump, Tuberville’s remarks are an affront to the values and bravery that define our military history.

Tuberville fancies himself a paragon of American heroism, a silver-haired devil-dog, and a sexy beast. In reality, “Coach” is a simpleton who has enjoyed a life of privilege built on the broad shoulders of college athletes.

In Noonan’s telling, Reagan’s message at Pointe du Hoc was clear: “Good people with a great cause must stand together.” It is a sentiment that resonates now more than ever. As we confront new challenges to global peace and democracy, we must rise above the myopic views of figures like Tuberville and embrace the unity and valor that have defined our greatest moments.

We must stand together, as Reagan urged, against those who distort history for their gain and as Biden calls, to support the brave souls defending freedom in Ukraine. The legacy of D-Day demands nothing less.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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