President Joe Biden gave a State of the Union address last night that at times was often gleeful, and at times almost gleefully combative. He sounded like a winner celebrating a victory over a defeated and unpopular opponent – and that’s because he was.
If your approval rating is around 40%, it means you’ve got a lot of people in the middle who don’t like you, and you’ve got to find a way to win them over. You’ve got work to do, and you have to be humble about it. Perceived arrogance will only make them dislike you even more. But the 2022 midterm results suggested Biden’s approval has actually been in the fifties the whole time. He now knows he’s popular and on track for reelection in 2024, and he can act like it. So he did.
Biden is obviously far more popular than the Republican House, and he used that to his advantage. But last night was about more than that. House Republicans have no leadership, no cohesion, no sense of strategy, and no political savvy. They had already decided that they were going to heckle President Biden during his speech, and Biden knew it going in, so he used their predictability against them. If they had any smarts, they’d have known they were walking into a trap. If they had any leader, they’d have been hushed on the spot. Instead they simply got played.
Even though most of the media coverage of President Biden’s speech has been positive, most of it has treated the speech as some kind of shocking display of political savvy on Biden’s part. Of course this is the same mainstream media that’s spent the past two years pretending Biden’s strong economy is weak, pretending Biden’s strong approval rating is in the thirties, and pretending Biden is too old to be able to do the job. But in the real world, Biden has been absolutely nailing it for the past two years.
After the media saw the midterm results, it was always going to have to revise its take on Biden’s presidency. After all, the American people clearly think Biden is doing far better than the media has been claiming. The question was when and how the media would begin to revise its approach. More than anything, last night’s speech feels like the inflection point at which the mainstream media may finally be ready to admit that Biden is indeed kicking ass. Now if only they hadn’t first wasted two years of our time.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report