The Oregon father who interrupted a Christmas Eve phone call from President Joe Biden with a phrase meant to stand for a vulgar insult is now complaining about the criticism he has received since the incident.
On Friday, Jared Schmeck and his children were connected with Mr Biden and first lady Jill Biden after he dialed the phone number for the North American Aerospace Defence Command’s long-running Santa Tracker hotline.
Norad’s Santa Tracker, a volunteer-run effort that purports to track the jolly toy delivery man’s airborne sleigh as he makes his way around the world each Christmas Eve, has in recent years operated a public hotline for children to check in on Santa’s whereabouts as they await Christmas morning.
After Ms Biden wished Mr Schmeck and his family a “wonderful Christmas,” the former police officer replied: “I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas as well — Merry Christmas and Let’s Go Brandon!”
The phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” has in recent months become a coded way for Republicans to say “f**k Joe Biden” without employing any vulgarities. It became a popular shibboleth among extremely online Trump supporters after an NBC Sports broadcaster suggested that fans at a Nascar race who were chanting the latter phrase were saying “Let’s Go Brandon” to cheer on driver Brandon Brown.
The coded insult left Ms Biden wincing, but Mr Biden did not appear to be in on the joke, as he replied: “I agree. Let’s go Brandon”.
Mr Schmeck’s attack on the president drew criticism almost immediately after video of it became public.
Writing on Twitter, Conservative commentator Erick Erickson said he found it “in poor taste to tell the President of the United States “Let’s go Brandon” when the man just wanted to wish you Merry Christmas”.
“Good manners should still matter,” he added.
Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, wrote: “I refuse to believe we are this indecent as people. Not on Christmas Eve. And not to a person who lost his wife and daughter at Christmastime. We are better than this”.
In an interview with The Oregonian, Mr Schmeck claimed that he did not mean the coded vulgarity to be vulgar.
“At the end of the day, I have nothing against Mr. Biden, but I am frustrated because I think he can be doing a better job,” he said. “I mean no disrespect to him”.
He added that the remark was meant as a “joke” and complained about the criticism he has received.
“Now I am being attacked for utilising my freedom of speech … I understand there is a vulgar meaning to ‘Lets go Brandon,’ but I’m not that simple minded, no matter how I feel about him,” he said, adding that he thought Mr Biden seemed like “a cordial guy”.
“There’s no animosity or anything like that. It was merely just an innocent jest to also express my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner...I love him just like I love any other brother or sister,” he said.
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