Marion Bae, FISM News
President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address Tuesday night that was mostly on par with what many have come to expect, as he attempted to renew his image at a time when his polling numbers show his popularity is continuing to plummet.
Biden, along with the majority of attendees, was seen without a mask for the duration of the address. He entered the room and shook hands with those in attendance, all unmasked, as the White House had dropped its mask mandate just prior to the address.
In opening his address, he announced, “Last year COVID-19 kept us apart, this year we’re finally together again.”
This came just days after more deep blue states dropped their mask mandates for vaccinated individuals. Some speculate that the timing was done for merely for optics, not unlike the Afghanistan withdrawal occurring near the anniversary of 9/11. Ted Cruz pointed out the hypocrisy, calling the move a “State of the Union miracle.”
Many expected Biden to address the war between Russia and Ukraine during his speech, which he did, for a full ten minutes. While masks were sparse, Ukrainian flags spotted the crowd, with many attendees waving or wearing them in a show of support for the war unfolding overseas.
Regarding the conflict, he stated, “Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the very foundations of the free world, thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways, but he badly miscalculated,”
He continued, “He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over, instead he met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imaged.”
Biden praised the bravery of the Ukrainian people, and introduced the Ukrainian ambassador, Oksana Markarova, who was seated beside Jill Biden. The audience was asked to stand and “send an unmistakable signal to the world and Ukraine,” which was followed by the first lady embracing the ambassador.
He praised the sanctions that have been recently levied and insisted that this war in Ukraine would weaken Russia’s military for years to come.
While American forces have been mobilized to the region, Biden assured the American people that we would not be fighting in Ukraine, but rather were mobilizing our forces to protect neighboring NATO allies from any potential attacks.
After Biden was finished addressing the war in Europe, he moved on to discuss domestic affairs, which he covered in broad strokes, discussing many topics but remaining vague in the details surrounding how they would be accomplished. He also spoke more about what he wanted to accomplish than what he had actually accomplished in his first 14 months as president.
Regarding inflation, he proposed areas that needed to be fixed, before insisting that wealthy Americans were not paying “their fair share” of taxes. He proposed price regulation on prescription drugs, affordable childcare, affordable housing, and tax credits for clean energy.
In regard to his policies on inflation, Biden said, “One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I think I have a better idea to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages.”
When addressing the COVID-19 Biden rejected the idea of “living with the virus,” and insisted instead that we would continue fighting it. He proposed he do that by continuing to push vaccines, even in other countries, boasting that we sent doses of vaccine to over 112 countries.
One surprising turn was when the Democratic President touched on the topics of law enforcement, “The answer is not to defund the police, it’s to fund the police, fund them, fund them, fund them with resources and training.”
His party gave him a standing ovation on this point, after almost two years of strong support from Democrats of the “defund the police” movement. Three members of “The Squad,” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Cori Bush (D-MO) however remained seated, showing displeasure with Biden distancing himself from the progressive agenda. There were reports that Bush even shouted something in response to the comments from Biden.
He finished his speech by addressing policies he’d like to pass that would have bi-partisan support. This included solving the opioid crisis, increasing mental health care, providing more support for veterans, and, most surprisingly, eradicating cancer. He announced that his goal was to cut cancer by 50% over the next 25 years.
He closed his first State of the Union address by saying America is strong, but we’ll be even stronger next year.