President Washington’s first State of the Union address way back in 1790 was less than 1100 words and probably took fewer than 15 minutes to deliver. On Tuesday, President Biden will no doubt talk considerably more and have considerably less effect than General Washington.
It’s not completely his fault. Over time, the speech has become uninteresting theater, right down to the human props placed strategically in the audience. It has gotten so bad and boring that it is easy to predict the contents of the speech. (RELATED: DAVID HARSANYI: Are The Walls Closing In On Joe Biden?)
For instance, on Tuesday evening Mr. Biden will all but announce his 2024 reelection. Given that Mr. Biden got carried away with the “threats to democracy” and “ultra-MAGA” rhetoric during the midterms, it seems reasonable to assume that we will have to endure more of that on Tuesday evening. Worse yet, Team Biden is confident that a sizable fraction of their better-than-anticipated showing in the 2022 elections was due to tagging their opponents as enemies of the people. Consequently, it seems reasonable to expect that the same sort of unhappy rhetoric will form the backbone of the president’s 2024 reelection campaign.
In their responses after the speech, Republicans should resist taking the bait and stay on the high ground.
The president has and no doubt will tout employment numbers, GDP growth, and reducing the federal deficit. Republicans need to set the context and point out that there were more people working in February 2020 (right before the pandemic) — 158.8 million — than were employed in January 2023 (just 154.5 million).
We need more people to come off the sidelines, which is going to require federal government policies to value work again.
Mr. Biden and Republicans should both say that we need to improve economic growth. From 1984 to 2004, the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1%. For the last ten years or so, that rate has been closer to 2.2%. Better economic growth and getting more people working is an important part of any solution to personal and national prosperity, deficit spending, and personal and national debt.
Much of the growth we’ve seen under Team Biden has been driven by federal government spending. The current debt ($31.4 trillion dollars, or about $90,000 for each of us) certainly suggests that our level of spending is not sustainable.
Mr. Biden will not say that inflation, running at about 6% annually, continues to damage consumers.
Because the State of the Union address is now about tossing bones to one’s allies, the president will harangue us about the historical significance of Team Biden routing a half a trillion dollars to climate change through the infrastructure legislation and the Inflation Reduction Act.
He will not say that the legislation will have essentially no effect on global average temperatures. Nor will he explain the role of his government and its allies in driving up the cost of gasoline by suppressing investment in oil and natural gas.
Mr. Biden, faithful son of the Catholic Church that he is, will emphasize his support for abortion, even up until the moment of birth.
He will talk about the need for policing reform, but not mention that black people are disproportionately victims of crime.
While there will the usual pieties about Ukraine, nothing will be said about Afghanistan. Nor will anything be said about the slow-motion invasion at the southern border or the Mexican drug cartels that are directly responsible for the deaths of 20,000 Americans each year (more than died in all of our pointless wars in the Middle East).
We are probably not going to hear anything good about the spy balloon from communist China that is emblematic of our national decline.
Finally, it seems unlikely that the president is going to say much about classified documents or about the laptop that the president’s son recently (and probably inadvertently) confirmed as his.
Michael McKenna is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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