In his speech on Tuesday, the President was in great shape and enjoyed confronting the invectives of some Republican extremists.
Those expecting a cushy State of the Union address from the first octogenarian president in US history were confounded.
In fact, it is a lively Joe Biden whose joviality contrasted with the sullen mood of his predecessor who took the opportunity to give one of the best speeches of his career. This speech will set the tone for the second half of his term and his likely re-election campaign.
Biden persists and signs
In an oratorical flight that angered his opponents, Biden praised his administration's policies, emphasizing their unifying character. Unsurprisingly, he chose metrics that show his performance in the best light – something his critics have been quick to denounce.
He first wanted to remind Republicans who threaten not to raise the debt ceiling that they unflinchingly agreed to do for his predecessor even though his deficits now represent a quarter of the total debt.
Even if Biden does not escape the temptation to embellish his record, he will not hesitate to defend it vigorously by 2024 and he has shown himself ready to face criticism from his opponents to “finish la job ”, as he repeated many times in his speech.
The highlights of the speech came when Biden responded directly to the invectives of some stars of the Trumpist right.
For example, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, decked out in an ostentatious white fur collar, shouted “Liar! ” (Liar!) when the president mentioned that some of his colleagues seemed to question the concreteness of Social Security and Medicare for seniors.
Ensued an exchange that Biden came out on top when he forced the majority of Republicans to applaud his own determination to save these popular programs.
Two visions at the antipodes
The Republican response came from the new governor of Arkansas Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former spokeswoman for Trump. After mentioning the contrast between herself, the country's youngest governor, and Biden, the oldest president in American history, she sardonically threaded a litany of themes dear to the Trumpist right.
The contrast was striking. While Biden's speech praised a rather moderate and normal interventionist governing agenda compared to most advanced democracies, the Republican response was all about the culture war against the “woke” bogeymen. who are in fact only a tiny minority of the electorate and elected Democrats, but whom the Republicans see in their soup.
Even if these scarecrows exist above all in the fertile paranoid imagination of the Trumpist base of the Republican Party, Huckabee Sanders has claimed that voters will have to choose by 2024 between the “normals” and the “nuts”.
Those who saw Biden's speech and the sad spectacle of cranks of the caliber of Marjorie Taylor Greene garlanding him on Tuesday night might be to prove him right…