(The Hill) — The phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” started off as a dig at President Biden that spread quickly online and became a political slogan adopted by the president’s critics on the right, including former President Trump.
The phrase became popular among Trump’s base after a reporter interviewing NASCAR driver Brandon Brown mistakenly interpreted the crowd’s background chanting of “f— Joe Biden” as “Let’s Go Brandon.”
But recently, the use of the phrase has shown signs of shifting.
The White House has attempted to reclaim the “Let’s Go Brandon” catchphrase in the wake of recent wins by the Biden administration via a new “Dark Brandon” meme that has flooded the internet.
The precursors to the “Dark Brandon” meme first started to make the rounds online shortly after Biden was elected, when a Chinese illustrator attempted to make unflattering images of the president, according to Politico.
But on Sunday, some of those images started to gain popularity on Twitter when they were co-opted as part of the more complimentary “Dark Brandon” meme.
“Dark Brandon is crushing it,” tweeted deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates, who shared a photo of Biden with laser red eyes that said: “Your malarkey has been going on for long enough, kiddo.”
Rob Flaherty, White House director of digital strategy, tweeted a similar image on Sunday — one which showed the commander in chief with ominous, glowing red eyes, à la “The Terminator.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also joined in online, tweeting out an image of Biden with glowing yellow eyes.
A senior administration official told The Hill that the White House decided to “lean into” the “Dark Brandon” imagery to make an important point about the president delivering what they referred to as a “staggering” amount of wins in a short period time.
Recently the Biden administration has racked up a number of achievements, including a July jobs report that shattered economists’ expectations, the drone strike on al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and passage of a $430 billion climate, health care and tax overhaul.
Tobin Stone, who has been credited with first posting the “Dark Brandon” memes, told The Hill that he created the meme to “celebrate” recent administration wins.
“After a year of bad news for Democrats, the past two weeks have seen the Biden administration get more wins than any other period of his presidency, and like many other Democrats, I’ve wanted to celebrate,” he added.
According to Stone, the Dark Brandon meme has given Democrats a way to “turn the right wing’s ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ meme against them.”
However, some members of the GOP have been quick to criticize another meme shared by Bates, styled to look like the poster for a Batman film. Some conservatives were claiming the image in the meme used “Nazi” symbols.
Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter on Monday to criticize some of Bates’s tweets, saying, “Biden’s Deputy White House Press Secretary, @Andrewjbates46, is posting literal Nazi memes on Twitter and our corrupt media is completely silent about it.”
The White House staffers’ use of the meme also received significant coverage on Fox News overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning.
But Stone, who created the meme inspired by the poster for “The Dark Knight Rises,” reiterated his comments on the eagle to The Hill, saying, “The eagle is not, and was never intended to be the reichsadler — it was just intended to be a representation of America’s national bird, the bald eagle, and any reasonable person would interpret it as such.”
A senior administration official told The Hill they believe the fact that hardcore Trump supporters “blow their tops” when eccentric online attacks are co-opted helps the administration mitigate the impact of online trends.