Biden’s 1st State of the Union Address Dogged By Upheavals

In News
State of the Union

Traditionally, the State of the Union address provides presidents with an opportunity to pitch Congress on their domestic agenda and bills. However, analysts for the 2022 event predict that Biden could face a frosty reception when talking about what he views as the greatest threat to global security since World War II.

In Summary

• President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address is likely to be dominated by the deepening crisis in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, and — as is customary — the economy.

• Capitol police announced Sunday that they were beefing up security at the speech venue. Biden is expected to speak against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the White House.

• The State of the Union address is a key event in a president’s schedule. Each president uses it to persuade Congress about their domestic agenda and bills.

State of the Union
Barrier fence reinstalled around the US Capitol [COURTESY]

Ukraine, the pandemic, the economy, and deep divisions are all likely to take center stage in President Biden’s State of the Union address.

Ukraine’s worsening conflict, the COVID-19 epidemic, and — as customary — the economy are expected to dominate President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The legally mandated address is the president of the United States’ year’s rhetorical high point. Joe Biden is no exception, but this year’s State of the Union address — his first, though he has previously addressed a joint session of Congress — comes at a particularly turbulent time.

As if to emphasize that, Capitol police announced Sunday that they were beefing up security at the speech’s site.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in conjunction with the United States Secret Service, a plan has been approved to erect an inner perimeter fence around the Capitol building for the State of the Union Address,” stated US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger. “I have also requested assistance from other law enforcement agencies and the National Guard to assist us with security protocols.”

State of the Union
Thousands cross borders out of the Ukraine. [COURTESY]

Ukraine’s political turmoil

According to the White House, Biden is expected to tackle Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and his broader worldview during his Tuesday night speech. However, press secretary Jen Psaki noted that the situation is fluid — and the president’s remarks may change before he addresses legislators.

“We are currently undergoing an active invasion,” she stated Friday. “As a result, I am unable to provide you with a preview of how it will appear in the State of the Union. As for how the president views foreign policy — as you know, the president ran for president with the world of reclaiming America’s seat at the table, of restoring a time when other world leaders could trust the United States’ word and commitments, and what you have seen over the last few months is the president deliver on that promise.”

Biden has delivered three speeches in the last week on the deepening crisis in Ukraine; but, analysts believe Biden should expect a chilly welcome in his deeply divided country when talking about what he regards as the greatest threat to world security since World War II.

“Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute argues that Americans in the face of an international crisis, the country typically rallies behind a president. “If you watch Fox News television presenter Tucker Carlson, listen to Donald Trump, or read what many Republicans in Congress have been saying, we are not going to see a big share of the populace rallying around the president. Tribal differences exist presently, even on matters of national security in the United States.”

Recent polls indicate that the president’s approval rating has plummeted since the early days of his administration when 57% approved of the job he was doing. According to a study conducted by the same group in the first half of February, Biden currently has a 41% approval rating.

Former President Donald Trump has been open in his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his contempt for Biden. Trump chastised Biden’s energy strategy on Monday, saying, “This war should never have started in the first place.”

Trump continued to believe, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, that the November 2020 election was rigged and asserted that the US “would right now continue to have record-low gas prices, as it did throughout my administration, and we would be supplying the world with oil and gas.”

State of the Union
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at The Rosen Shingle Creek on February 26, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.. [COURTESY]

Economy-always a go to

According to historian Jeremi Suri of the University of Texas at Austin, and there is one subject that every president is expected to address in his or her State of the Union address. Presidents generally augment the State of the Union speech to persuade Congress of the importance of their domestic agenda and proposed legislation. 

“He will claim that the economy is booming, unemployment is low, and we are heading in the right direction, and that inflation is a result of supply and pandemic bottlenecks, which he is working overtime to fix and will do so soon,” he said. “And every president comments on the economy because they all want to convey the message that the economy is doing well and that we are growing richer. The only time presidents forgo stressing the economy is when we are at war.”

Certain is this: America and the rest of the world will be listening to what he has to say. Tuesday’s address begins at 9 p.m. Washington time.

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