Angry Joe Rallies His Partisans

If you missed the State of the Union address last Thursday, you are probably better off. I’m not sure how much these speeches matter, but they do give some insight into a president’s priorities, his sense of himself, and his understanding of the concerns of the American people.

President Biden has never been a polished speaker, nor does he ever say anything particularly interesting. And, for as long as I have been watching them, nearly all of these state of the union speeches are boring, full of inside-baseball lists of legislation that do nothing for me, and they are almost always devoid of interesting ideas or turns of phrase.

But this was a bigger disaster than usual. After a few initial pleasantries, Biden’s voice and tone became shrill and angry . . . and they stayed that way. His shouting lacked any clear relationship to the content of the speech. When he wasn’t shouting, he rushed through his words like someone trying to fake their way through a foreign language.

Of course, he had his usual verbal ticks, including a failure to enunciate and what appeared at times to be a complete brain freeze. If dementia-fueled anger means he’s high energy—the widespread conclusion of his defenders online—he was certainly that. But, overall, the speech’s emotional tone, as well as its content, did not match the mood of the country.

In a testament to the warped priorities of the ruling class, Biden began not with words of sympathy for Americans struggling with inflation, nor for our troops recently killed in Jordan, nor with the announcement of a plan to control the border, but instead with a paean to Ukraine and NATO. I could not imagine a more completely tone-deaf way to begin than with this inside-the-beltway obsession that Americans of all political persuasions have become very skeptical of.

In this and other parts of the speech, he made no real attempt to persuade or address legitimate concerns voiced by critics. He just said we have to stay the course without explaining why this will work when the hundreds of billions we have already spent in Ukraine have not turned the tide. He also could not explain how the money could even be spent effectively when Ukraine’s biggest need—millions of artillery shells—is presently beyond the capability of the western military industrial complex. Even if you were moved by his bromides condemning Putin, Russia, and democracy, he gave no reason for a listener to conclude anything was going to get better if we just threw more money at the problem.

From this, Biden transitioned to another partisan obsession: the supposed horrors of January 6. Honestly, no one cares. And the Democrats have overplayed their hand by turning it into the Second Civil War. The whole reason for this was to disqualify Trump from the ballot, a ridiculous and extreme anti-democratic measure that the Supreme Court thankfully shut down. Of course, there was some craziness and—by the standards of 2020—modest violence. But this was no attack on democracy, as much as he dressed it up as such.

Biden conflated criticizing the election result’s reliability with actual insurgency. He messed up the timing, but he offered what was intended as an applause line: “Here’s the simple truth: You can’t love your country only when you win.” Indeed, you cannot.

But he must think we have all forgotten how he, Hillary Clinton, and the entire Democratic Party political machine trashed the 2016 election and constantly interfered with Trump’s rights as president with the nonsensical and false claims of Russian collusion. They never considered that maybe they lost fair and square, not least because Hillary is a repulsive human being.

After their four years of fever dreams about Russians, they have insisted without evidence that the 2020 election was the most secure ever, even though it featured a lot of new practices that are thought to enable fraud when done elsewhere, such as the widespread use of mail-in ballots, late-night extended recounts, poor mechanisms for determining voter identity, and other shenanigans

After these inauspicious beginnings, the speech was all over the place. Biden attacked the Supreme Court and vaguely suggested they were going to be undone by some vague exercise of women’s “political power.” He talked up the economy but barely mentioned how inflation was hurting average people and had outpaced wages.

Marjorie Taylor Green heckled him over the death of Laiken Reilly—a young nursing student recently murdered by an illegal alien. Biden responded by misstating the victim’s name, speaking to her parents as if they were in the gallery—they were not—and then, in his most puzzling remark, saying, “How many thousands of people are being killed by legals?” Who knows? Probably a lot.

We have to live with our countrymen because they were born here and have certain legal rights. Some are not such great people, and when they are bad enough and break the law, we throw them in prison. But isn’t the right rate of immigrant crime zero, whether they come here legally or not? Why should we import problems? Pathetically, Biden later apologized for calling her killer an illegal alien. God forbid we offend the sensibilities of such people.

Biden also mentioned Trump a dozen or so times, but he kept calling him “his predecessor,” as if not uttering his name would somehow ward off political black magic. There was ultimately no unified theme for the speech. It was just a hodgepodge of Democratic talking points that are often deeply unpopular, such as the de facto open border that has resulted from Biden’s insane abolition of Trump’s asylum policies.

By the end, whatever drugs they put Biden on had worn off. He was meandering, angrier than at the start of his speech, and all-around unpleasant. Long, boring, and hostile, the speech was ineffective if the goal was to unite the country, win over undecided voters, impress the public with Biden’s reputed empathy, or to explain and persuade of the desirability of his policies over the alternatives.

It did succeed, however, in revealing Biden’s chief flaws: out-of-touch, old, angry, dumb, and contemptuous of all criticism. In this sense, he is the perfect avatar for the Democratic Party’s ancient, out-of-ideas leadership.

Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

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About Christopher Roach

Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

Photo: WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 7: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House chamber at the Capital building on March 7, 2024 in Washington, DC. This is Biden's final address before the November general election. (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)