May 19, 2024

For the last year, Joe Biden’s inability to form coherent sentences for the entirety of a speech, public statement, or even a brief interview was glaringly obvious to every American who saw him talk. His shuffle was that of one of an old lady powerwalking in the gym. His age showed.

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Republicans have been pointing this out for a while now, since the 2020 election when the Biden campaign hid the man in a basement and claimed it was a pandemic measure. Democrats have only recently been acknowledging that there’s an issue. 

The Biden administration has been furious at the news coverage of the president’s verbal (and literal) missteps. They have taken every precaution to try and minimize those glaringly obvious flaws. They’ve had people direct him offstage. They’ve given him notecards. They’ve ordered him to not take questions.

But, his own party has remained worried. There have been whispers of switching the candidate from some corners, and outright rebellion from others. It got so bad that Michelle Obama had to come out this week and clarify that, no, she’s not running for president. 

Which brings us to last night.

The State of the Union address was not for the Union. Sure, it’s always a political speech, but it’s usually focused on bringing the country together behind the president. But last not, that speech wasn’t for you and me, people who are conservative or even slightly right of center. It wasn’t for independents, either. Last night’s speech was to every Democrat in the room, every member of the media watching, and every Democrat at home. He took an hour to say what really could have distilled to this:

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“I’m running. Me. Not Michelle. Not Gavin. Me. And you’re all gonna back me, starting right now.”

The old man yelled at his own party. He refused to name Trump, but he referenced him. He never once spoke about working with Republicans, only demanding they join him and abandon “the former president,” as he referred to him. But the message last night was Joe Biden stomping out any talk of insurgency within his own party.

There are still fractures within his own party, and he must attend to those. That’s why he referred to equality and the civil rights movement so much. That’s why he talked so much about unions and the middle class. That’s why, within 30 seconds of talking, he was already referencing Hitler. He was telling his party that he was the man who would be standing against that.

He has to win back black voters. He has to win back blue-collar voters. He needs women to stay with him. Now, he’s probably writing off Hispanic voters, considering he referred to Laken Riley’s killer as “an illegal,” but he has to keep the rest of his coalition together.

And so, this morning we’ll see reporters talking about a strong, clear Joe Biden who is clearly up to the task of running and governing for four more years. All those news reports of his age and ability will be scuttled for the rest of the election cycle. The media will ignore the obvious because he took some B-12, a few shots of espresso, and trolled Republicans during a speech that was supposed to be about the state of the country.

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So for all the talk from Republicans about this being a super political, hateful, unhinged speech, it wasn’t a speech for you. It was a speech to the Democrats, and given their reaction, the message was received.

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