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March 9, 2024

Biden’s State of the Union

After the decisive results of the Super Tuesday primaries, I quoted the British phrase, “It’s all over but the shouting.” Well, last night, we got the shouting. I don’t know what his staffers pumped President Biden full of in preparation for his State of the Union speech, but it’s a safe bet it was not Relaxium.

In fact, it’s hard to say which was worse: Biden’s State of the Union speech or the actual state of the union under Biden, which got very little time last night. The “speech” was a disjointed, angry, shouted laundry list of leftist pipe dreams (The PRO Act? No thanks!), false claims, timeworn campaign tropes (“Make the rich pay their fair share!”) and unfair political attacks with no shape or structure. Biden just careened from one DNC talking point to the next like billiard balls bouncing off each other.

The dark, divisive, partisan nature of the speech didn’t just target Trump, Republicans and their supporters. There was also a very disturbing moment when he seemed to threaten the six attending Supreme Court Justices to their faces by warning them that they were about to see the electoral power of women furious over Roe v. Wade being overturned. Earth to Biden: It’s not the Supreme Court’s job to care about elections or public opinion polls. It’s their job to determine if something is constitutional, which Roe clearly was not. So stop trying to gin up threats from your more deranged followers in an attempt to intimidate them.

By the way, Republicans are not running on a promise to pass a national anti-abortion law (Trump has suggested a 16-week limit, which is two weeks beyond France's law); and when Biden says he will codify Roe into law, that’s a lie. Roe was actually far more restrictive than the radical, unfettered abortion-until-birth law he wants to pass. Also, the Alabama Supreme Court did not outlaw in-vitro fertilization, and the state’s Republican legislature and Governor had, the day before, passed and signed a law protecting IVF procedures.

Of course, the media will attempt to paint the speech as a triumph, a repudiation of the idea that he’s too old or impaired for the job (or at least that he can’t stay awake past 9 o’clock.) They’re lauding his “energy” and “vigor,” with the A.P. describing Biden as “feisty,” which is like calling Godzilla “grumpy.”

On the other side, we’re hearing complaints that it was the worst SOTU in history, an “utter disgrace” with no inspiring appeals to unity or our shared values as Americans, just an unprecedented and “unhinged” diatribe against his political opponents, by turns angry or mocking, with a shocking opening that tried to compare his opponent Donald Trump to Hitler. It was also delivered in a rushed, slurring rant that made it seem as if he’d guzzled two gallons of Red Bull before taking the podium (entirely possible.)

The moment that’s going viral is when Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene heckled him into saying Laken Riley’s name, and he did make some moving comments about the young woman who was allegedly murdered by a Venezuelan illegal alien who’d been released multiple times. He botched her name as “Lincoln Riley,” but at least he paid tribute to her. But if you want to know how seriously the Democrats really take the issue of criminal illegal aliens preying on Americans, consider that some of them, including Nancy Pelosi, seemed more upset over Biden referring to the alleged murderer as an “illegal” rather than the PC term “undocumented” than they are over her murder.

Also, the White House is refusing to back the Laken Riley Act, which would require the deportation of illegal aliens with serious criminal records (it also got backing from only 37 House Democrats), saying they should pass that “immigration reform” bill instead.

And Democrat Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban blocked a vote on “Sarah’s Law,” a law that would require ICE to detain (not deport, just detain) illegal aliens charged with killing or seriously injuring another person. It’s named after Sarah Root, another young American killed by an illegal alien drunk driver. It’s kind of hard to refute the “population replacement conspiracy theory” when the Dems refuse even to detain illegal aliens for killing American citizens.

Back to the SOTU: Some Republicans in the hall complained that Biden was speaking so fast and mumbling and slurring so much that they couldn’t understand what he was saying. I caught most of it, I think, and I still couldn’t understand some of it. For instance, is it really an applause line to brag that jobs building roads and bridges will go to Americans? Who else would build roads and bridges in America? Unless we start importing Irish and Chinese workers again, like we’re building the Transcontinental Railroad.

Or his claim that sending soldiers to Gaza to build a pier is not “putting boots on the ground.” Will they be wearing sandals, or avoiding touching the ground by riding on hoverboards?

Or his declaration that all children should learn to read by the third grade. That’s a pretty low bar even for today’s public schools. Admittedly, people who didn’t learn to read until the third grade are the Democrats’ target demographic.

I’m not going to go through the speech in detail and fact-check every patently false claim because the newsletter would be longer than the Hong Kong phone book. Plus, a number of outlets have already done a great job of that, and I’ll link to them below. But here are just a few whoppers that stood out for me:

* Virtually everything he said about the economy was patently false: “I inherited an economy that was on the brink. Now our economy is the envy of the world! 15 million new jobs in just three years – that’s a record! Unemployment at 50-year lows!”

As noted, just prior to the pandemic, under Trump, there were over 152 million jobs. There are now 157.7 million. Most of the “new jobs” Biden takes credit for are Trump-era jobs artificially shut down by the pandemic and that people returned to when the lockdowns ended. Many of the actual “new jobs” are government jobs.

Today’s unemployment rate is 3.7%. Just before the pandemic hit, under Trump, it was 3.5%. As for Biden inheriting an economy that was “on the brink,” it was actually strongly rebounding from the shutdowns. In the third quarter of 2020, it grew at an annual rate of 33.1% as businesses reopened. Fourth quarter 2020 growth was 4.3%, and in the first quarter of 2021, before any Biden policies took effect, the economy grew 5.2%.

* He actually pulled out the Democrat election year perennial that Republicans want to slash Social Security. I’ve been hearing this lie since I was a boy, and I’m now eligible for Social Security. Trump has already stated that he will not stand for any cuts in benefits for Social Security and Medicare recipients. So that was just an empty scare tactic, and a cliched one at that.

FYI: The big problem with demagoguing Social Security this way is that studies show it is likely to run out of money by 2032, but anyone who dares try to suggest a way to save it immediately gets hit with ads accusing them of wanting to wheel grandma over a cliff. So politicians soon learn to do nothing and hope they won’t be in office when the day of reckoning arrives. Saving Social Security will require political courage, honesty and placing the welfare of seniors over political advantage, so I don’t see that happening. But if you’d like to hear an intriguing suggestion for saving SS – one that could even result in a surplus that saves it for future generations – without tax increases or cutting current benefits, check out this video, which also includes a clip of Trump saying he will not cut Social Security:

* I’m sure you know by now that all the railing about Congress passing a bill to give him the power to seal the border is grade A horse manure. He issued nearly a hundred executive orders undoing the secure border we had under Trump, he has the power to reinstate those things but won’t, and there’s a stand-alone bill passed by the House to fund only border security that’s been sitting on Chuck Schumer’s Senate desk for months. But they don’t want to actually do anything to seal the border and deport illegal aliens; they want a bill that expands government power while allowing 5,000 illegal border crossers a day, or about 1.8 million a year.

There was a litany of lies like that, but you get the idea. If you want to delve into deeper fact-checks, here are some good links:

For those who’d like to know what Biden allegedly said without all the “old man yells at clouds” shouting and slurring, here’s a written transcript.

And if you’d like to relive some of the more humorous live-blogging (that’s the spoonful of sugar that helps bitter speeches like this go down), here are some fun ones to scroll through. Sample line, from Doug P on “I didn’t wait this long for the show to start when I saw Guns and Roses back in the late ‘80s.”

And of course, Donald Trump’s response:

As much as I lament the way the SOTU speech has devolved into a divisive, partisan campaign speech that’s beneath the dignity of the Office of President, I’m also not a fan of the trend of the audience heckling the President and engaging in political grandstanding. Even if you can’t stand the man, show respect for the office, the Capitol and the tradition. I expect my Congressional Representatives to be able to behave like adults. I don’t want a Congress that resembles the rowdy circuses we see in other countries’ legislatures.

I thought Speaker Mike Johnson set the tone perfectly and also went viral with his quiet but show-stealing skeptical expressions. One wag suggested that they should make Halloween masks of Johnson and Biden, so one kid could be Biden and another could be Johnson, following behind him and rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

As for the GOP Response by Alabama Sen. Katie Britt, I thought she did an excellent job in a very difficult position: having to respond, without an audience, to a speech that she could not hear before making her rebuttal. Some Republicans criticized her for being too soft-spoken or too emotional and not going for Biden’s jugular.  But after over an hour of Biden’s angry partisan shouting, I found it a relief to listen to some soothing, intelligent, impassioned comments from a mature adult.

Besides, an angry firebrand would just be preaching to the choir. Britt spoke directly to suburban moms who hate what they see happening under Biden but who have been demagogued into being afraid of Trump and Republicans. She gave the perfect speech to reach out to that audience. And don’t tell me they can’t be persuaded because the latest polls show women, who backed Biden last time, are now evenly split.

Abbey Gate

While I don’t condone heckling by anyone at a SOTU speech, I can understand the pain that prompted guest Steve Nikoui to shout out “Abbey Gate” and “United States Marines” after Biden claimed that “America is safer today than when I took office.” Nikoui is the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, one of 13 Marines killed by a terrorist bomber during Biden’s botched pullout from Afghanistan. Across three SOTU speeches, Biden has failed to mention those fallen Marines.

Nikoui was removed from the House Galleries by Capitol Police, which is understandable. What’s not understandable is that he was hit with a misdemeanor charge of “crowding, obstructing or incommoding.” How many leftist protesters have interrupted Congress and merely been escorted out with no charges? How many leftist rioters have burned down cities and attacked cops and been released with no charges? But they’re going to prosecute a Gold Star dad for standing up to protest the President ignoring the death of his son due to that President’s own incompetence?

If the Democrats know what the term “terrible optics” means, then they’d better demand that these charges be dropped immediately.

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