President Biden headed into his State of the Union address in deep political trouble. His inept handling of mounting crises has left his approval rating struggling to stay above 40 percent — a number that sets Democrats up for potentially devastating losses in November’s midterm elections. Yet given the major stage of a joint session of Congress and a national audience, Biden made no effort to significantly change the trajectory of his presidency. Instead, he acted as if his first year in office was a smashing success and desperately tried to resell a dead agenda.
Biden launched into a long defense of the trillions of dollars in spending programs he passed last year as part of the “Covid-relief” package and the infrastructure law.
To the extent that Biden attempted any pivot, it came on the issue of Covid. Last week, the CDC completely overhauled its guidance for masking right in time for the State of the Union. “Thanks to the progress we have made this past year, Covid-19 need no longer control our lives,” Biden said. But in the past year, hundreds of thousands of people died of Covid, and there were multiple major surges. His change in tone has nothing to do with “progress,” but the fact that Democrats lost an election in Virginia and polling continued to show endless restrictions hurting Democrats.
If this speech was any indication of how Biden intends to make the case for himself and his party in the run-up to the election, Republicans are being handed an incalculable political gift.