State of the Union: Biden faces high-stakes address to calm Democrat nerves

Washington, USA – President Joe Biden will deliver a high-stakes address to the American public on Thursday evening, as the 81-year-old seeks to tackle concerns about his age, put a positive gloss on his first-term record, and lay out the case for his re-election in November.

The State of the Union address will give him a rare opportunity to speak to a national audience of millions, and draw a contrast with his Republican competitor, former President Donald Trump.

Traditionally, these annual speeches to Congress are standard affairs, full of pageantry and laundry lists of legislative priorities. But this year, questions about Mr Biden’s fitness for office and polls that suggest an extremely tight race for the presidency, mean the address is a critical moment for the president.

“This speech is particularly important to rally Democrats and calm their nerves,” said Michael Waldman, who served as speechwriting director for President Bill Clinton. “He needs to show that he’s vigorous and in command, and a happy warrior.”

Mr Biden’s approval ratings are some of the lowest recorded for a president seeking re-election, and other surveys highlight the discomfort Americans across the political spectrum feel about giving him another four-years as the commander-in-chief.

Appearing to be a “happy warrior” while also fighting for your political life is not exactly an easy task – even when politicians are at the top of their game.

Mr Biden has decades of experience delivering in high-stakes political moments, and he likely spent all weekend practicing his speech’s delivery.

But this turn on the national stage could prove crucial, as the president must appear competent and comfortable while speaking to Congress – and avoid any missteps that feed the damaging political narrative surrounding his seniority.

Questions about the president’s age have been simmering for months, but they were supercharged by special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation of Mr Biden’s handling of classified documents.

Within a searing 345-page report published last month, Mr Hur characterised the president as a “well meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”—a t turn of phrase that has taken off among his critics.

The president, who has suffered from a stutter since boyhood – well knows that every cough, stammer, and stumble will be put under the microscope, so he must be aware of how he looks and acts during Thursday night’s address.

According to Robert Schlesinger, author of White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters, the president would benefit from landing a few notable moments that appear unscripted—sound bites that make him seem nimble and quick-witted, even if such moments are gamed out well in advance. This is something Mr Biden accomplished in last year’s address.

“If he can get up there and seem feisty and not completely tied to his text, then it’s an opportunity to convince the American people that the narrative about his age is not based in reality,” he said.


The post State of the Union: Biden faces high-stakes address to calm Democrat nerves appeared first on

Leave a Reply