President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats appear energized by a string of legislative victories, falling gas prices and polling that suggests the midterm elections could be more competitive than previously expected.
Since last October, the president had been mocked by the nickname “Brandon,” which bubbled up after a television reporter described chants of “(Expletive) Joe Biden” at a NASCAR race as the crowd saying, “Let’s go, Brandon!” The phrase began breaking out at rallies by former President Donald Trump, and GOP politicians parroted the line regularly.
But with Biden signing the Inflation Reduction Act on Tuesday – the latest in a string of accomplishments – it’s a new day, and many on the left have co-opted the Brandon moniker to create memes showing the 79-year-old president as a powerful figure called “Dark Brandon.”
Biden’s transformation, coupled with a Republican Party that seems to have chosen culture war issues over governing, sets America up for a comic-book-worthy showdown that USA TODAY illustrator Clay Sisk and I have dubbed: “Dark Brandon vs. The Pronoun Patrol.”
This is that story.
Overwhelmed by the taunts
In the early weeks of summer, things were looking grim for Biden. His poll numbers were dismal, gas prices had surged to record highs and Democrats looked gloomily toward November midterm elections and a likely Republican wave that could cost them control of the House and Senate.
Biden was taunted by critics, haunted by a cacophony of mocking “Let’s go, Brandon!” chants.
On the ropes? Or just getting started?
Republicans made merry at Biden’s expense. Fox News pundits drooled over high gas prices and inflation. The end of Biden, it seemed, was nigh.
And then, perhaps because his detractors had said “let’s go” one too many times, Brandon went. He went dark.
Dark Brandon rises
Gas prices began falling, dulling a prime GOP talking point.
The old Biden was gone. The old Brandon was gone. Dark Brandon had arrived.
Make way for the victories
He wasn’t done. Unemployment hit 3.5%, matching a five-decade low reached just before the pandemic began – with 528,000 new jobs added in July. Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, boosting U.S. semiconductor production, and the PACT Act, aiding veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in foreign wars.
Then Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a major climate, health and tax bill that might do the one thing Republicans fear most: Improve the lives of Americans.
The polls started changing, with a strong swing toward Democrats.
Absent ideas and staggered by the arrival of Dark Brandon, some Republicans summoned the energy of scapegoating and formed … The Pronoun Patrol.
The prattles of the Pronoun Patrol
They mocked people’s identity, labeled anyone who mentioned gender identity or sexuality as “groomers” and began howling about the danger of drag shows.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told the conservative group Turning Point USA, “My name is Ted Cruz and my pronouns are kiss my a--.”
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida lambasted America’s “woke" military on Fox News, saying: “Our civilian leaders in the Pentagon have spent the last two years focused very seriously on the proper use of pronouns and ensuring that we host the right number of drag queen shows at different military bases around the world.”
And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted that her preferred pronouns include “Only/Two/Genders,” “Ban/Drag/Queen/Story-time” and “Stop/Gender/Affirming/Care/On/Kids.”
Never mess with Dark Brandon
Back in the White House, Dark Brandon let out a booming laugh.
The diminutive Pronoun Patrol swept the country, harassing librarians and cackling as they defied the laws of basic human decency.
“They think that’s what the American people want? Cruelty? I’ll win using a little thing my pop called ‘governing.’ BY THE POWER OF SCRANTON!”
Dark Brandon breathed in The Pronoun Patrol's voluminous hot air, then blew it back out at them, whooshing them away on waves of their own hypocrisy.
The Pronoun Patrol was no match for Dark Brandon. But this is not the end. He knows his Republican foes will keep coming for him.
But next time they come for Dark Brandon … they better bring more than malarkey.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: As Biden signs Inflation Reduction Act, GOP should fear Dark Brandon