The SOTU from hell

The comedian Richard Lewis, of blessed memory, is credited with the formulation “the x from hell.” Having watched President Biden’s State of the Union Address last night in order to comment on it this morning, I found it to be the SOTU from hell. Thank you, Mr. Lewis.

The White House has posted the text of the speech “as prepared for delivery.” That isn’t exactly how he gave it. You have to see it to get the full flavor. I have posted the White House video at the bottom.

Herewith are my impressions of Biden’s delivery and my observations on the speech in the form of bullet points:

• The Democrats in the audience broke out in cheers of “Four more years.” You have got to be kidding. Let me begin with a prediction. Even if Biden wins reelection to another term this coming November, he will not be giving four more State of the Union addresses. No way no how.

• Esquire used to pose a rhetorical question as a caption on a photograph of Richard Nixon that it published in its annual Dubious Achievement Awards edition: Why is this man laughing? The question to be posed for this speech is Why is this man shouting? He is an angry old man.

• This was a terrible speech terribly delivered. It’s a good thing no drug test was required before the address. Biden sounded hopped up. He spoke too fast. He slurred his words. He was frequently difficult to understand. He shouted a variety of clichés and shibboleths as though we might otherwise miss their depth and meaning. The disparity between the shibboleths and the shouting was almost funny.

• Biden sounded like a 45 rpm record playing at 78. It was an old record — it had scratches at several places that caused it to skip the groove.

• To whom was this speech addressed? The opening reflected the poor judgment of Biden’s daycare minders in the White House. As I heard it, the country needs to be protected from two threats: Russia and Donald Trump (“my predecessor”).

• This SOTU was a nakedly partisan campaign speech. I have to think that viewers lacking the persuasion of Democratic partisans were quickly turned off. In any event, the speech was a disgrace.

• And that’s not all. The speech was also disjointed and telegraphic. It covered everything from potato chips to computer chips. If it conformed to the laundry list mode of bad State of the Union addresses, this was a laundry list in Morse Code. You had to know the lingo of the proposed laws on Biden’s list. I had no idea what he was talking about when he got to his list.

• TCM counterprogrammed last night’s SOTU in part with Casablanca. You may recall that Humphrey Bogart responds to a comment with one of the movie’s many great lines: “I was misinformed.” Despite its thematic incoherence, anyone who took Biden’s speech at face value last night was misinformed. The misinformation gave it the thematic unity it otherwise lacked. A serious student of politics and the economy could write a dissertation exposing the misinformation conveyed in the speech.

• In his Russia/Ukraine remarks at the top of his speech Biden vowed, “We will not walk away.” Trisha Yearwood, call your office. Walk away, Joe — please. (I’m referring to Biden himself, not Ukraine.)

• The justices of the Supreme Court who chose to attend must have been thrilled to find themselves the villain of Biden’s condemnation of the Dobbs decision. The Supreme Court has returned the legality of abortion to the states. Biden both condemned the decision and celebrated its electoral impact. Abortion is not only a positive good on its own terms, it’s good for Democrats on the hustings. Wrapping it in the mantle of IVF, as he did last night, seemed to me a cruel joke.

• Biden wants to raise taxes on those not paying paying their “fair share.” Who isn’t paying his “fair share”? Billionaires aren’t. Corporations aren’t. That’s the bad news. We must be paying our “fair share.” That’s the good news, assuming we can draw that inference. Maybe someone can ask Karine Jean-Pierre about it at the next White House press conference.

• Biden wants more price controls on pharmaceutical products. When the AMA opposed the dangers of socialized medicine in days of yore, they were on to something.

• “Trickle down economics” came in for a beating. Does anyone who didn’t live through the Age of Reagan know what he was talking about? It was what Democrats condemned as “trickle down economics” that gave us the seven fat years of the Reagan boom. It was “trickle down economics’ that gave us the Trump boom — the boom for which so many voters are nostalgic today.

• Biden actually decried “shrinkflation” in the potato chips portion of his remarks. Some translation is required. “Shrinkflation” = inflation = Bidenomics.

• Biden implied that corporate shenanigans account for “shrinkflation.” Does anyone not understand why “shrinkflation” has broken out under the Biden administration?

• Biden decried “junk fees” and proclaimed his good works in saving us from them. This is “junk politics.”

• Biden reiterated his claims to have “cut the deficit.” He failed to mention that the decline occurred because pandemic spending from President Donald Trump’s tenure expired as scheduled. Biden didn’t do a damn thing. As CNN puts it, “Biden’s own actions, including laws he has signed and executive orders he has issued, have had the overall effect of worsening annual deficits, not reducing them.”

• By the way, in fiscal year 2023 total government spending amounted to $6.13 trillion and total revenue to $4.44 trillion. The resulting deficit amounts to $1.70 trillion, an increase of $320 billion from the previous fiscal year.

• Biden promoted many more federal spending programs I had never heard of. He apparently means to “cut the deficit” even faster and deeper.

• Biden bragged about his continuing student loan giveaways in the face of the Supreme Court ruling that found him to have exceeded his authority (in Biden v. Nebraska). One would like to see the thought bubbles over the heads of the Supreme Court justices.

• Biden talked about illegal immigration. He campaigned in support of it last time around. He invited it during the 2020 campaign. He facilitated it from his first day in office. Yet it’s not his fault. When it comes to the flood of illegal immigrants and related burdens, his theme song is Bob Dylan’s “It ain’t me, babe.”

• Biden saved his remarks on Israel and Hamas for the end of his speech. He won’t walk away from Ukraine, but he will walk away from Israel. He announced his Gaza rescue plan as advertised. It’s his plan to rescue himself in Michigan and rescue himself from his party’s pro-Hamas wing.

• Biden acknowledged: “Israel has a right to go after Hamas.” Thanks, big guy.

• Biden also toed the Hamas line in implicitly attributing responsibility to Israel and omitting the relevant facts: “More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed. Most of whom are not Hamas. Thousands and thousands are innocent women and children. Girls and boys also orphaned.” See Abraham Wyner’s Tablet column “How the Gaza Ministry of Health Fakes Casualty Numbers.”

• Biden peddled “the two-state solution.” What’s wrong with this picture? As Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer puts it: “Anybody talking about Palestinian state right now is living on another planet.”

• I enjoyed and appreciated Speaker Mike Johnson’s slight shakes of his head to express his disagreement with Biden’s misinformation. He did it just right.

• Although I could say more, these observations are already too long. I will conclude here. The competition is stiff, but this must have been the worst SOTU of all time.

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