On January 8, Joe Biden gave his annual presidential address to the nation and Congress, and it was an unusually confused continuation of both his style of government and the comic style of the White House resident. At the beginning of his speech, the U.S. president tried to boast about his accomplishments, such as the creation of new jobs and rising wages. However, he did not take into account the fact that they still do not keep up with the record inflation, and to somehow offset this negative fact, he immediately resorted to blatant falsification. Biden also stated the decrease of illegal migration in the U.S., although the crisis at the southern border of the country only worsens.
The recent failures were so apparent that Biden had to admit to obvious problems, such as the fentanyl crisis that is causing as many as 100,000 Americans to die of overdoses each year in the United States. This drew evident laughter from the Republicans present at the speech, who began to point out to Biden that it was his fault for refusing to strengthen border security in the United States, especially the Mexican border, which has always been a gateway for drug trafficking. Nevertheless, the most vivid altercation happened when Biden accused Republicans of trying to abandon all social programs. They even interrupted his speech for a while, shouting out in chorus: “Liar!” Biden was reacting to the Republicans’ desire to cut government spending, something the White House is unwilling to do, by instead proposing dramatic tax increases.
Biden also falsely credited the “strengthening of democracies” in the world during the two years of his presidency, although even Democrats themselves acknowledge a crisis of the liberal world order with a systematic reduction of the list of countries that the U.S. considers democratic and an increase in the number of autocracies. Biden accused China of violating American sovereignty and promised to continue to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Overall, however, foreign policy has received far less attention than usual because the American public has grown tired of this perennial line of primitive populism, and even the president’s administration realized this when they drafted the speech. In addition, Washington is now immersed in another round of domestic budget and culture wars, and Biden is forced to refocus on the domestic agenda.
Despite this change in rhetoric, Republicans have consistently and harshly criticized the president’s statements, giving two critical responses to Biden’s address to the nation and to Congress. Usually the party in opposition to the White House chooses one politician from its ranks to respond to the President of the United States. This time, the official Republican representative was Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former press secretary, who was recently elected governor of Arkansas. Sanders noted that the divide in the U.S. today is not between the right and the left, but between normal people and insane people. She emphasized that Biden is very old and simply cannot cope with his duties. She also called for a generational shift in Washington politics, once again hinting at Biden’s age. However, this is a jab not only at the current president, but also at her former boss, Donald Trump. He decided to record his own address to the American nation, an alternative to both Biden and other Republicans, showing that there is a split in the ranks of the opposition.
In response, Trump expressed his point of view and said that Biden is just “the most corrupt president in history” who has failed to live up to his responsibilities and the crises that have hit the United States. For Trump, this is just a superficial opinion of his moderate colleagues in the Republican Party. The leader of the radical conservatives believes that Biden has brought the United States to the brink of World War III, and only he personally can save the country from that threat with his return to the White House in 2025. In the meantime, things are not so easy for Biden within his own party either. Recent polls show up to 40% of Democrats oppose Biden’s nomination for a second term. With his address to the nation Biden tried to win over the disgruntled voters but he hardly succeeded. Biden’s speech was received far worse by the Democratic electorate than Trump’s address by even moderate Republicans. Of course, popular opinion has long played a secondary role in the United States, and Biden is going for a second term anyway. Although there is a demand for a generational change in American society, it is unlikely to happen, and 2024 could be a repeat of 2020 with a new confrontation between Biden and Trump, the only difference being that Biden will be in a vulnerable position to blame for all the turmoil in the United States.
The sad fact for Biden is that his address to the nation and Congress did not have the effect the White House had hoped for. The audience for the speech were very low and only 27 million Americans watched it. This is one of the lowest numbers for a U.S. president in the past 30 years. Moreover, it is as much as 10 million lower than that the one of Biden in 2022. The first polls that came out after the speech also show nothing promising for Biden: his speech was received positively by 72% of Americans. Technically, this is high, but it is lower than Trump, Obama or Bush Jr.’s speeches, and therefore cannot be interpreted as positive with respect to public opinion analysis of the president’s performance. Republicans frequently interrupted Biden during his speech, shouting all sorts of accusations and insults at him, and immediately afterwards, Congress defiantly launched new investigations into the president that deal with his ties to other countries. First of all, they blame Biden for the non-public agreements with China made by his son Hunter. They also demand all the documents on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, where they are also looking for a “Chinese trace” because the Celestial Empire strengthened its presence in the country after the Americans left.
With his speech, Biden began preparations for the nomination for a second term, but paradoxically problems began to arise from there. First came the scandal over classified documents, then the story of the Chinese balloon, and now the confrontation with Congress began to intensify. The question of the debt ceiling is also not resolved, and the threat of a technical default by the U.S. is getting higher. There was also another recent speech by Biden in Europe where he tried to present himself as a “wartime leader”. However, foreign policy does not excite American society much now, and it is unlikely that this attempt to raise his low ratings will end with success for him. Despite all efforts, the U.S. president’s speech to the nation and Congress had the predictable “theatrical” result, with Democrats applauding him frantically and Republicans stubbornly disrupting his speech. All that happened was just another embodiment of the growing political divide in the U.S., which Biden risks not being able to cope with.