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How did Biden do with his State of the Union Speech?

How did Biden do with his State of the Union Speech?

As is always the case, the State of the Union Speech was a mixed bag.  Here is my assessment of President Biden’s speech.

Performance – B+

I gave President Biden a B+ for his performance because he showed that he can put energy into a long speech – although using a teleprompter.  He might have gotten an A, except for two things.  (1) Even with the teleprompter and lots of rehearsal, he fumbled a few times, and had a brief coughing spell. Nothing dramatic, however.  (2) More importantly, he was over-coached. In an attempt to dispel the widely held perception that he is too old for a second term, he literally yelled through much of his 67-minute speech.  (Perhaps that was the reason for the coughing spell.)

His performance was very good, but I do not think it will entirely dispel the age concerns for two reasons. (1) Those with experience with older folks with diminishing capacity know that they have their good moments and bad moments – and can rise to special occasions. (2) He is likely to have a few senior moments in the future – and (3) his campaigning will continue to be limited to scripted statements with minimal impromptu exchanges with the press and voters.  I doubt he will agree to debate.

Meeting the Purpose – F

More than any State of the Union Speech in memory – and possibly in American history — Biden went full-bore political.  He abandoned the constitutional purpose of the annual report to Congress by making it a strident partisan campaign speech – a “political convention speech,” as one CNN commentator called it.

Even MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said it was “fully a campaign speech” — admiringly.  CNN’s Jake Tapper said he had never heard of a State of the Union Speech that was “so political” – slightly less admiringly.

Biden’s 13 negative references to his “predecessor” and his stark contrast along partisan battle lines were unprecedented in the tradition of the President’s report to Congress.  It was not President Biden at the podium.  It was candidate Biden.  I gave Biden an F because what he gave was not a State of the Union address as prescribed in the Constitution in any way, shape or form.  It was – as they say – red meat for his base.  Did he effectively use or sadly abuse the platform?

Political Benefit – A+

Just as Biden ignored the traditional constitutional expectation of the State of the Union Speech, he was very successful in transforming it into an effective campaign speech – one of the best he has ever delivered.  Mentally, he was speaking at a Democrat political rally – using hecklers as foils. That should come as no surprise since the man has been giving hardcore partisan speeches for more than 55 of his 81 years on earth.  In addition, he had the support of a team of competent political strategists who crafted the speech and rehearsed every moment – including the seeming impromptu asides with Republicans.   Yes, it was filled with platitudes, impossible promises, misinformation and a few fibs, but that is what makes it a campaign speech.  No argument, it was as good as barnstorming campaign speech gets.

General Command of Subject Matter – D

It was not as though Biden did not have command of his message.  It was just that so much of it was aspirational malarky.  In the spirit of a campaign speech, Biden promised everything to everybody – mostly what he will do for us in the future.  It was an impossible list politically and economically.  It was political snake oil and Biden was doing the selling. The common thread was spend … spend … spend.  Money for prescription drugs … teacher pay … renters … home buyers … credit card holders… students … seniors … women’s healthcare … police … etc. … etc. … etc.  Even Washington cannot tax and borrow enough to pay for Biden’s promises.  He must know that many of his proposals — sans details – will never pass even a Democrat controlled Congress.

Handling Hecklers – A

That a seasoned politician can handle audience heckling comes as no surprise.  And the prospect of heckling was planned for and rehearsed.  No matter.  He did it well.  And he had the advantage of Republicans acting badly. Did I mention Marjorie Taylor Greene?  She is an embarrassment that provides ammo for Democrat attacks.  Her attire was disrespectful, inappropriate and a violation of House rules – and offering herself as Biden’s volunteer debate opponent was unseemly. 

Old Subjects – D

In his opening, Biden compared himself to President Roosevelt in 1941.  It was mostly apt comparison when you consider that much of Biden’s speech was based on New Deal issues and the ancient bromides of the Democratic Party.   There was his evergreen praise of unions – and his commitment to use government power to empower them.

Biden repeated his commitment to raising the minimum wage – even though that has always proven to have more negative economic impacts than positive – such as raising prices and killing off jobs.

Biden was all in on the New Deal approach to class warfare – especially the attack on corporate America.  He promises to spare the working class from higher taxes by piling taxes on corporations – including hundreds of thousands of small corporations. This is a political scam.  Corporations do not “pay” taxes.  Taxes are added to the expense side of the balance sheet that factors into the price of goods and services.  In other words, the consumer – you and I – ultimately pay the taxes imposed on corporations.

Biden does hit some paydirt in addressing the overall tax systems that provide too many unique advantages for wealthy individuals.  But if he really wanted to even the playing field, Biden would support the proposal to abolish the income tax entirely – to be replaced with a slightly progressive national sales tax – but that is better covered in a future commentary.

Hot Topics – C

Nowhere was Team Biden’s political craftsmanship more obvious than his handling of the issues that are on the minds of the voters. 

Thanks to Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, Biden was able to finesse on the issue of immigration.  Despite the fact that the Democratic Party is largely culpable for the catastrophic immigration crisis that has metastasized across the country, Biden blamed the problem on Republicans because of the terrible so-called bipartisan bill that thankfully failed in the Senate.  Not only was Lankford the primary useful idiot who negotiated the bill for the GOP, but he was the major talking point after he gave Biden’s spin an affirmative nod during the Speech.

Biden gave emphatic support to Ukraine – juxtaposing his position with Republican neo-isolationism.  It was a political slam dunk for two reasons. (1) Most Americans favor supporting Ukraine.  They see the need to defeat Putin. (2) Biden’s rhetoric obfuscates his own too little/too late approach to Ukraine in terms of weapons and sanctions. (3) Biden did not steal the issue from the GOP, they handed it to him with their insane opposition to Ukraine funding.

Interestingly, Biden did not bring up Israel as the logical follow-up on Ukraine.  Rather he saved that for much later in his speech.  Following his initial defense of Israel as the victim in the October 7 terrorist attack, he immediately shifted to his pro-Hamas position.  By myopically focusing on the unfortunate casualties of war, Biden harshly criticized Israel’s conduct of the war – making the Palestinians victims of Israel rather than of Hamas.  He literally repeated narratives coming out of the Hamas propaganda machine.

Biden used some of his strongest and loudest rhetoric on the issue of abortion.  He has become the Catholic communities’ strongest proponent of abortion – promising to pass legislation to reinstate abortion-on-demand at any point in a pregnancy by national legislation.  It was his strongest statement –it is the one issue that polls well for Democrats.  In a very real sense, Biden abandoned his religion for his politics.

Then there was the economy.  Biden basically repeated the message he’s been sending out for months.  The stock market is bullish.  The GNP is rising.  But he does not address the essential question of whether people are economically better off today than they were four years ago.  And that is a resounding “NO!” Mortgage rates have doubled.  Prices are up 20 percent – and higher in essential goods. Credit card debt and defaults are at an all-time high.  That is the economy most Americans have to deal with.

In terms of other issues, Biden resorted to the Democrats’ standard approach. Throw money at the problem.  It would not take an economist or the Congressional Budget Office to establish that Biden’s political promises would require trillions of dollars in additional spending – expanding deficits and the National Debt passed the point of economic collapse.

Summary

All things considered, it was a good night for Biden and Democrats.  Biden put to rest – for the moment – concerns about his age and vitality.  He was energetic and coherent.  It was politics at its best – or worse.  He appears to have gotten a bump in fundraising – and is likely to get a bump in post-speech polling.

Fortunately for Republicans, the glow that Democrats and their media allies have been basking in since the speech will fade away.  Other events will take over. 

If it was a boxing match, Biden clearly wins the round.  He did not knock out Trump or the GOP, but he knocked them to the canvas a couple of times.  The real question going forward is whether Biden will have more senior moments or whether Trump will exceed the voters’ tolerance for provocative rhetoric.  Regardless … it is going to be a brutal election season.

So, there tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

15 Comments

  1. Rick

    Sounds like you cant wait for the NWO.

  2. frank stetson

    One long critique, mostly of the picayune petty tedious type like counting Biden’s coughs, attributing them to age acting as armchair doctor. The man is over 80 after all. You wanna see old? Check out the youngster rookie Senator from the eggs-are-human state of Al’syourmama espousing the same old fears from fantasy folks from Mayberry. Complete with bogus sex trafficking story rivaling the Trump rape description that I will do you the honor of not repeating this time. Unlike her ten minute rape description, over and over and over….. like living in a very bad porn film. Great SOTU rebuttal stuff.

    This brilliant example of youth made her first mistake by accepting the offer to follow Joe’s SOTU. Joe’s been pretty hot on these. Hard act to follow. Can’t wait for the Horist Republican rebuttal review. SNL’s was spot on. I would rather take a bad project hard to fuck up than a geat project where possibilty of doing worse is much higher. Youngster opted to follow a great act showing us all a good reason why experience matters. And now it’s the penalty box for her for awhile.

    Yes, it was a campaign speech, the next day he delivered it again as a campaign speech. Not unusual. And man, he’s raking it in and $10M is not malarkly. Not like spending $91M to say you didn’t rape her, she’s a liar.

    Yes, he mentioned his predecessor a lot, Horist clocked it in at 13 times for which I have to give Horist credit for counting beyond his fingers and creating an actual researched, supported, factoid rather than some generalized opinion of the stereotypical nature, and unsupported as is his way.

    To that end, as a journalist would do, I checked Trump’s 2020 SOTU for a quick, recent, comparison which, given all the bragging, embellishment and lies, must have been a campaign speech. I mean, he claims to have remade NAFTA, more like renamed only. He mentions the “previous administration” of Obama/Biden, two men he confuses together all the time, he mentions them 6 times. So, Biden may have been over the top, but not unusual and certainly not unique in this regard. I am sure if one checked other election year SOTU’s one would find more of the same, not less.

    Like: “during the previous administration. If we hadn’t reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration. Under the last administration. In eight years under the last administration. under the previous two administrations. That’s why my administration reversed the failing policies of the previous administration.”

    Trump alludes to his previous and future competition many other times, I just counted where he uses the actual words to be apples to apples. And by the by —- Trump’s best speeches were the ones on teleprompter. Period.

    Before the speech I noted that Biden had two ways to go: ignore him or take him on. And I noted IF Biden chose to take him on, he better go full bore. Unleash the Kraken. Anything else would have been some weak tea. Trump has been mostly trash talking Biden in lieu of positioning his policies for over a year now campaigning well before any normal, typical, Presidential campaign. Why not return volley.

    Horist tamps down Biden’s heckler reply to the clown from Georgia inappropriately and unprofessional attired. I picked a wardrobe failure and she did not disappoint although this time she looked bottle-blonde whorish, last time she was all pimp. All I can say is that’s a lot harder than Biden makes it look to respond, real time, on the fly, to crazy talk. Ask MTG who got some press hallway questions allowing her too to respond dexterously, like Biden, with her immortal words of wit and wisdom: “FUCK OFF.” Brilliant MTG words to live by.

    Good speech, Biden raised a lot of cash from it. Trump got cash too by installing his DIL as RNC co-chair where they immediately did mass firings. Like 60 of the 200 staffers, many senior managements. Yes, we like open carry and we’re doing a little RINO hunting. Sweet portending of why Federal workers want to vote Biden: save your job. And RINOs, hey, your days are numbered: vote Biden or be hunted for sport. NTW — they have open carry. You can see em coming. All we have is John Kerry.

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson … long, rambling, incoherent and off topic — and insulting as usual. Your obsession to be the eternal counterpoint to PBP is pathetic. And I do not take it personally since I do read other commentaries on PBP and see your self-praising insipid responses laced with personal insults there too. Virtually every television pundit called it the most political State of the Union Speech in history. And to my surprise, Biden did not get much of a bump in polling from the speech. Frank, you produce more bullsh*t than a Texas cattle range. But … carry on in the spirit that no one is worthless because they can always serve as a bad example.

  3. Wes Kussmaul

    Quality of this review: SG

    (sour grapes)

    Let’s face it, even a lot of conservatives concede that Biden knocked it out of the park.

  4. Darren

    The Bar has been set so low because of Biden’s last speeches, all he had to do was stay awake and
    it would be memorable.
    To bad he could not remember the name of the girl his policies murdered.

    • Mike f

      Darren-Just to be fair, how many republicans remember the names of all the children their policies have murdered? There are isolated instances where an immigrant has killed someone’s-however those numbers pale in the face of the gun violence that has been attacking our schools for years. Republicans answer-thoughts and prayers. No solutions to any problem-just rhetoric…

      • Richard

        Did the babies murdered by doctors ( so called) have names? Even if every kid in my family was shot I would still stand up for the 2nd amendment.

    • frank stetson

      Darren, IMO, this was not Biden’s best speech and you are wrong about the bar. Although, yes, given the picture you folks have been painted, as long as he didn’t drool, it would be a win.

      As far as the girl, his policies, whatever, first, according to the record so far, there were slight warnings, endangering a kid by not using a helmet on a moped and shoplifting; because of the low level of the crimes, no ICE call.

      As far as illegals doing this stuff, statistically speaking, you are most likely to face this from our indigenous species rather than an illegal. That’s just an urban myth very popular in Alabama where there are few illegals.

      Meanwhile that’s one horrible case. There are 1,000 kids still sepratated by sexual abuser Donald J. Trump, our digital rapist President. One thousand kids taken from parents and not able to find them yet. One thousand names criminal Trump cannot remember.

  5. Mike f

    Larry, How about rating the childishness of the speeches, tweets that the asshole has recently made-the one you will be voting for? You know, the guy who mocks physical disabilities and is so insecure that he has to ‘truth’ real-time insults to the guy who is hosting the Oscar’s? Biden knocked it out of the park when compared in any way to that failed businessman/president. Now that Biden has shown the nation that all the conservative rhetoric about his senility was bullshit, you can expect the poll numbers to start to shift. Biden’s predecessor only had success when he kept the policies of his predecessor Barack Hussein Obama in place. Other than that, it was unmitigated disaster-foreign policy, trade wars, couldn’t even get support for that famous wall he tried to build. Biden pointed out all the successes he has had by reversing the policies that his predecessor had put in place. The only thing debatable is the border-you know the problem trump has insisted his people not fix? Republicans are the do nothing party and Biden’s speech just made that glaringly obvious (not to mention the joke they had rebutting him..)

    • Americafirst

      Mike f – So, you want to tell Larry what to talk about and how to do it? When did you become the owner of this site? You do the same kind of nasty thing Frank does. Now there are two doing that. Are you two trying to control the narrative on everything on this site that doesn’t belong to you? The both of you have so much hate in you that is spilling on to others. Proud of yourselves? There are nicer ways to get your narrow points out. Maybe that’s why there aren’t too many other people reading here or replying. So sad. go ahead, I’m waiting for you to tell me off just as Frank does.

      • Mike f

        AF-when I see bullshit in writing, I call it out. And yes, I do hate what trump has done to the country and I am unapologetic for that. He has bamboozled people and cheated his entire life-but it is all lies. The republicans used to have some credibility (as I have stated before I am a reformed republican) but I discovered they had lost their way, starting in the ‘90’s with newt, continuing with W and his war to avenge Hussein thumbing his nose at his daddy and it’s only gotten worse with trump. Republicans have become the party of stupid-the rest of us have realized they are bullshitting us and have pulled out…

        • frank stetson

          MF — fyi — I have only replied to AFup to a couple of times. Must have been memorable.

          Hey, Tom and I are getting together with Jospeh Bruder later and the other Mike, normal time, normal place. Figure we’d get the band together again.

          • larry Horist

            Frank Stetson … This is your second attempt to offer up you, Tom Joseph and Mike as YOUR team. Can’t hold up on your own … eh? LOL Remember … opinion is NOT a team sport — unless you need all the help you can get. And you do. I once suggested that you were into intellectual masturbation — writing solely for self pleasure’. I see you now want a circle jerk. And you may have found the right guys. LOL

        • larry Horist

          Mike f … You do not call out bullshit. You write it out.

          • Mike f

            Larry, As a person who is a expert in promoting bullshit, I would think that you would know the difference between your emotional based opinions and my fact driven responses (of course you are the guy who wrote that National enquirer worthy statement that trump has an IQ of 156-so many people are still laughing at you over that bullshit…)