After enduring 10 months of “Let’s go, Brandon” jokes, Democrats are recasting President Biden as a new and different Brandon, the kind who moves seamlessly between the halls of government and the Marvel universe.
The campaign is on to rebrand Mr. Biden as “Dark Brandon,” an all-powerful superhero who steers his legislation successfully through Congress, takes out al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and shoots lasers from his eyes.
The White House has embraced the Brandon reboot. Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates tweeted “Dark Brandon is crushing it” after the Senate passed last weekend the sprawling $740 billion climate, tax and healthcare bill with no Republican votes.
White House senior adviser Neera Tanden and director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty followed up on it, tweeting an image of Mr. Biden with laser-red eyes.
“Dark Brandon said ‘here’s the deal’ and then there was a deal,” tweeted Megan Apper, senior adviser for the State Department’s Bureau of Global Affairs.
Those pushing the “Dark Brandon” theme have resurrected cartoons depicting a dangerous-looking, laser-eyed Mr. Biden, an image created by Chinese illustrator Yang Quan after the 2020 presidential election.
The cartoon was retweeted by Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, who was asked about “Dark Brandon” in a Monday night appearance on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
“I’m not going to try to explain that meme, but he is a bit of a superhero this summer,” Mr. Murphy said. “This is a president who has a record of achievement from the gun bill to the veterans’ bill to the Inflation Reduction Act that’s going to rival any president for their first two years.”
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 7, 2022
The bid to buff up Mr. Biden’s image while reclaiming “Let’s go, Brandon” from the right earned a left-handed compliment last weekend from conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
“You can try to Dark Brandon meme your way out of sub-40 approval ratings all you want, but throwing hundreds of billions at green boondoggles in the middle of an inflationary spiral isn’t going to turn things around,” tweeted Mr. Shapiro, referring to the bill dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act.
Mr. Shapiro concluded: “That said, the imagery of a dotard who can barely form words from his face-hole actually being a laser-eyed deathlord is pretty hilarious.”
The phrase “Let’s go, Brandon” took off after an NBC Sports reporter said fans chanting “f*** Joe Biden” at a NASCAR race last year were cheering for winning driver Brandon Brown, inspiring everything from T-shirt shops to rap songs.
Mr. Biden appeared to be unaware of the catchphrase’s meaning. He repeated “Let’s go, Brandon, I agree,” after a caller used it as a sign-off on a Christmas Eve conversation last year with the president and first lady Jill Biden.
With “Dark Brandon,” however, Democrats hope they can win over the public with fun politico-comic posts such as “Dark Brandon is getting things done. Republicans are fighting pronouns,” and “We are basking in the age of No Malarkey.”
“The White House is now tweeting Dark Brandon memes,” tweeted the leftist Palmer Report. “This is the greatest thing of all time. It’s so dumb, and yet it steals the other side’s catchphrase and uses it to make Joe Biden into a larger-than-life superhero. Keep it going into the midterms!”
So far Republicans aren’t feeling Dark Brandon’s mojo.
“Dark Brandon may be the worst superhero in American history,” former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday on Fox’s “Outnumbered.”
Republican National Committee spokesperson Emma Vaughn took a swipe at the White House officials jumping on the Dark Brandon bandwagon.
“Biden, whose son is under federal investigation for laundering money from Chinese intelligence officials, is using Chinese propaganda to celebrate the fact they raised taxes during a recession and gave away billions of dollars for electric vehicles that depend on China for parts,” she said. “But we’re not surprised a mid-level White House staffer did not find this problematic.”
Turning around a negative political nickname isn’t impossible. The Republicans did it two years ago with their embrace of “Cocaine Mitch” during Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign.
In 2018, a West Virginia Republican used “Cocaine Mitch” in an attack ad based on a 2014 report in The Nation that 40 kilograms of cocaine were found on a cargo ship owned by the family of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao.
The effort to connect the drugs to the Republican leader earned “four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post fact-checker, but the McConnell campaign seized on “Cocaine Mitch,” creating a meme depicting him ironically as a gangster and selling T-shirts emblazoned with “Team Mitch/Cartel Member.”
Biden foes have sought to turn the tables on Democrats with memes showing the president engaged in less-than-impressive feats, such as struggling to put on his blazer and dropping his sunglasses after exiting Marine One following his Monday tour of the Kentucky flooding.
Conservative commentator Dana Loesch reposted the video with the caption, “DARK BRANDON.”