State of The Union: Joe Biden Speech Reviewed

“If I was smart, I’d go home now,” President Joe Biden began his third State of the Union tonight after receiving one of the few bipartisan rounds of applause. The well-worn line by the incumbent got a laugh as expected, but for Speaker Mike Johnson and many Republicans tonight, that opening line should have been a hint.

Put it another way, as Johnson and other members of his party stayed in their seats like wilting potted plants or simply walked out, the often underwhelming Biden came looking for a fight. Gifted by his enemies, as all the most successful politicians are, Biden gave the GOP a beatdown of shame in a speech that most candidates would have saved for their national convention.

But these aren’t normal times, and, with bitter months to go, the 2024 election is far from a normal election. Also, this SOTU may have been Joe Biden’s chance to own the agenda. Tonight, with “comeback” the term of the night, he grabbed it.

Going off script again and again by lambasting his heckling opponents with barbed lines like “I know you know how to read” on the state of the economy, “another $2 trillion tax cut?” and “Oh you don’t like that bill ..I’ll be darned” over the blocked bipartisan border proposal, Biden finally seemed the president in public that his aides and surrogates claim he is in the Oval Office.  

Under all the policy and patriotism, perhaps what mattered most for the clearly energized 81-year-old Biden was defanging the age issue.

“I know I may not look like it, but I’ve been around a while,” the current POTUS joked in his version of Ronald Reagan’s famed 1984 comeback witticism of “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

“And when you get to my age certain things become clearer than ever before.” 


Relentlessly mocked by Donald Trump day after day as a crook, not tough and bordering on senile, Biden would have been able to plant a victory flag by just not falling down.  Instead, especially for a man who has never been a great orator at the best of times, Biden bucked convention and went into full reelection mode in a deeply divided America.

Spotlighting his “predecessor” over a dozen times in his 77-minute-long speech with derision dripping from his voice, the sometimes-bellowing Biden baited the Republicans in front of him and the unnamed and obviously watching Trump.

Just like they have before, the GOP and Trump walked right into the trap. Just like they have since 2020, the GOP and Trump underestimated Biden.

The former Celebrity Apprentice host ranted on his Truth Social about “the coughing, the coughing” and claiming Biden wanted to take away “everyone’s guns.” Well, Trump ranted when he could, as his social media platform seemed to keep collapsing and producing dead air – which was just so incompetent.

It’s true, no matter how vigorous he was for most of the night, Biden himself mangled the name of murdered nursing student Laken Riley for USC Head Coach Lincoln Riley while holding up the button nemesis Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) gave him in hopes of shaming the president over the immigration crisis. Yet, he addressed Riley’s family directly with condolences and the loss of his own daughter over 50 years ago. Was it a stunt? Of course, and about as spontaneous as a sunrise.  It was also perfectly timed political theatre that flipped the shame onto his antagonists as POTUS then took a swipe at Trump-bullied Republicans over the deep sixing of that bipartisan border security plan.

 Yes, the rally cry election speech that Biden delivered was more political than almost any SOTU in modern times. Yet, 344 days before the election the incumbent succeeded in firing up his base – which is the ultimate get-out the vote move – and made his adversaries look smaller and smaller.

Biden kind of gave away his game plan as he glad-handed his way down the aisle upon entering the House of Representatives like the retail political, he has always been. If the party lines weren’t stark enough, numerous female Democrats dressed once again in white in homage to the suffragette movement, and in support of women’s rights, reproductive and otherwise.

“My purpose is to wake up the Congress and alert the American people that this is no ordinary moment,” Biden told the assembled Democrats, Republicans, honored guest and, more importantly. the millions watching on TV and online. With the ballot boxes stakes higher than ever for the poll challenged POTUS, the 2024 SOTU was a combo legislative laundry list, campaign lines, leader of the Free World poses, as many would have bet it would be. It was the political rope-a-dope in action that took things to another level. A student of the presidency,, Biden has finessed the tactic over the years

“It’s time to do more than talk,” tPOTUS forcefully stated. To that, in his SOTU and in immediate posts on social media, the president repeatedly stressing the need for aid for Ukraine against Russia, humanitarian aid to Gaza and a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.

On the homefront, Biden pressed the need for gun control and restoring women’s reproductive rights, as well as patting himself for the back for a “strong” union with a bustling economy, prescription drug prices coming down, lower crime rates, environmental measures, billions in infrastructure spending and more domestic achievements.

That’s what a SOTU is supposed to do.

Heading into a rematch with Trump this year of election and hobbled by disquiet about his status as the oldest president ever, a pugnacious Biden tonight had to put his critics in the corner and his rivals on the mat.  

If the vision of Speaker Johnson literally sinking further and further down into his high back seat behind Biden and the roars of Democrats in the House chamber for “four more years” were any indication, the seasoned street fighter from Scranton, PA was no-holds-barred Thursday in a classic made for TV moment.

“The state of our union is strong, and getting stronger,” Joe Biden said tonight. If you were watching the State of the Union tonight, the same could be said of the reelection hand the incumbent is holding right now.

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