Somewhen in 2020 I decided, for my own peace of mind, to eliminate news and especially politics from my life. The former has become utterly vapid and useless (extra especially any form of TV news), and the latter has become disgustingly polarized and pointless. I genuinely haven’t missed either, not one iota.
But two things combined to make me seek out a stream of President Biden’s State of the Union address this past Tuesday. Firstly, this post of mine from 2016, about President Obama’s last SOTU address, got a bunch of hits. Secondly, there were accounts that it was pretty awesome.
And, in more ways than one, indeed it was.
For one thing, as with President Obama’s address, it was a pleasure almost beyond description to listen to an intelligent, educated, rational, good and light-hearted, basically decent human being with a Presidency dedicated to all Americans. It’s such a joy to have some sanity, intelligence, and honesty back in the highest office, not just in this country, but in the world.
[Listening to the cruel and ignorant ravings of his predecessor shattered my mind and broke my heart. How anyone saw (or worse, still sees) anything to admire in that pathetic excuse for a human being is utterly beyond my ability to understand.]
For another thing, I learned that while I’ve been ignoring politics, President Biden and his team have done a lot in two years to put this country back on track. Here are some relevant quotes from the text of the speech:
Two years ago, our economy was reeling. As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs, more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years. Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much. Today, COVID no longer controls our lives.
(In all cases, italics for emphasis are mine.) The President went on to mention the January 6th insurrection, when Right Wing terrorists attacked the Capitol seeking to overturn by force and murder a legal process ratifying a legal election. (A mob of sore insane losers egged on by the very one ultimately charged with the safety and security of our country.)
And two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken. As we gather here tonight, we are writing the next chapter in the great American story, a story of progress and resilience. When world leaders ask me to define America, I define our country in one word: Possibilities.
Let that sink in. The greatest threat since the Civil War. The Republicans didn’t care for that one bit, but tough, they dealt it, they stink of it, they own it. Their performance last night, especially the select few extremists, was the usual no-class, no-respect, no-brains bullshit we’ve come to expect from them.
It’s pathetic and sad. After their one-term wonder, and especially after their trouncing in the past mid-terms, the GOP and the Right-Wing media were very clear about the need for Republican politicians to start acting “normal”. Americans have made it pretty clear, most of us anyway (there are always a few slipping gears in any big engine) that we reject extremism. (From either side, let’s be clear about that.)
That’s all that was required from them. Act normal. Just that. Act like normal human beings. (Obviously, it would be asking too much for them to show any respect for the Presidency. Naturally, hypocrites that they are, they demand and expect it for their people. Sorry, but it has to work both ways.)
Just act like normal human beings. Apparently, that’s asking too much, too.
President Biden spoke of many of the improvements and advances his administration has accomplished in two years:
Unemployment rate at 3.4%, a 50-year low. Near record low unemployment for Black and Hispanic workers. We’ve already created 800,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs, the fastest growth in 40 years.
Now, thanks to all we’ve done, we’re exporting American products and creating American jobs. Inflation has been a global problem because of the pandemic that disrupted supply chains and Putin’s war that disrupted energy and food supplies. But we’re better positioned than any country on Earth. We have more to do, but here at home, inflation is coming down. Here at home, gas prices are down $1.50 a gallon since their peak. Food inflation is coming down. Inflation has fallen every month for the last six months while take home pay has gone up. Additionally, over the last two years, a record 10 million Americans applied to start a new small business.
Not bad for two years in office, and there was much more along these lines. Government can do good things when it works and isn’t corrupted with divisiveness, corruption, and lies.
A bit the Republicans really didn’t like was this:
In the last two years, my administration cut the deficit by more than $1.7 trillion – the largest deficit reduction in American history. Under the previous administration, America’s deficit went up four years in a row. Because of those record deficits, no president added more to the national debt in any four years than my predecessor. Nearly 25% of the entire national debt, a debt that took 200 years to accumulate, was added by that administration alone.
Truth hurts. Being called out for being incompetent hurts. The choice is between blaming the truth-speaker or asking oneself if maybe there is a reality here that should be addressed… well, we’ve seen what choice the Republicans make every time. Reality and facts are not their friends, so they tend to shun them.
In the previous administration, and in myriad smaller examples around the country, we’ve seen that, while the Republicans are good at tearing things down, they aren’t very good at building them up. And they certainly aren’t much interested in governing for all Americans.
Let’s face reality. While the Left-Wing has no lack of extremists and asshats, the Right-Wing is the one that is most irrational, most hateful, most distant from the core American values of democracy and egalitarianism. As just one example, it’s only the Right-Wing that constantly and consistently seeks to disenfranchise legitimate voters. Why? Because they know that in any fair national election, they lose. The Right-Wing does not reflect the overall American will (and, yes, neither does the Left-Wing).
Earlier in the speech, President Biden addressed a central topic: pride.
For decades, the middle class was hollowed out. Too many good-paying manufacturing jobs moved overseas. Factories at home closed down. Once-thriving cities and towns became shadows of what they used to be. And along the way, something else was lost. Pride. That sense of self-worth. I ran for President to fundamentally change things, to make sure the economy works for everyone so we can all feel pride in what we do. To build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down. Because when the middle class does well, the poor have a ladder up and the wealthy still do very well. We all do well.
It’s astonishing to me that, as oriented on materialism and wealth as the Republicans are, they don’t seem to grasp the very simple principle of enlightened self-interest. When those around you, from bottom to top, do well, so do you. When those around you suffer, there is a drain all around.
The President got a big round of appreciation for this line:
As my Dad used to say, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, “Honey –it’s going to be OK,” and mean it.
And when you think about all that implies, it’s easy to see why. Pride, dignity, and respect were AWOL in the previous administration. It’s an almost indescribable relief to the heart and mind to have them back again.
I’m also very happy that this administration seems dedicated to improving our infrastructure. That’s been sorely needed for many years.
I still remember how shocking it was in 2007 when the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during rush hour. It killed 13 commuters and injured 145. Things like that aren’t supposed to happen in our great country. But the roads and bridges throughout the country are very much in need of attention. High time they got it. (The previous administration promised much but never delivered.)
President Biden’s administration also plans to address internet infrastructure, something else in sore need of attention. The USA ranks nowhere near the top in terms of internet speed or access. How is that possible? We invented the internet! And we invented most of the technology that drives it. (On the other hand, it was a British guy who invented the web, so blame that on him.)
There are also plans to address prescription drug prices, yet another thing American has let get badly out of hand. (Capitalism is good. Unfettered capitalism, however, eventually consumes itself and results in anarchy. Again, enlightened self-interest is the rational and intelligent path. One just needs to be rational and intelligent to see it.)
As already mentioned, the Republicans generally showed their lack of class and inability act anything like normal human beings throughout. Speaker McCarthy actually had to indicate his displeasure several times making shushing motions with his mouth (kudos; honestly, I didn’t think he had it in him).
It’s hard for me to believe, because I want to believe everyone is at least rational, that we’re still dealing with Right-Wing extremists. I can’t help but think Left-Wing extremists have arisen in response. Batman and the Joker need each other.
But at least the Left-Wing is coming from a position of principles and humanity. They may get it wrong more often than not, certainly taking it too far (why can’t anyone be moderate anymore?), but the Right-Wing is fundamentally dishonest, inhumane, and acting in bad faith. (Bill O’Reilly himself, many years ago, once admitted in a speech at Yale that the Left was, indeed, the more humane party. He was absolutely right. Even more so today.)
We will not have a decent country until this scourge is eliminated and driven back under the rock from which it loathsomely crawled. Make no mistake, things are not equal. The problems on the Left are vastly outweighed by the problems on the Right. Vastly. Night and Day. Evil versus Good.
Forget your politics for a moment. Forget your allegiances and judgements. Just listen to President Biden (or to former President Obama). Then listen to that other guy (whose name I refuse to use). Night and Day. Evil versus Good.
I just can’t fathom how any rational human being can ignore the deep dishonesty, the utter lack of moral values, the blatant hypocrisy, the obvious stupidity and ignorance, or the blithering incompetence of the previous President-who-would-be-King. It’s utterly irrational to me.
I’m just glad we seem to be back on track, and I hope to hell it keeps up. I hope to hell that decent rational Americans have had enough of this polarized lying bullshit and will continue to keep faith in the current administration. Long may sanity and good faith flourish.
If you’d like to read the full text of President Biden’s State of the Union address, Wiki Source has it (all quotes taken from that source). Various streaming services also have the original video (I watched in on Hulu).
And again, for doubters, I would urge a politics-free side-by-side comparison between POTUS45 and POTUS46. Just consider them as apolitical human beings. Which one seems like a decent human being to you? It seems glaringly obvious to me.
Stay rational, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.
February 9th, 2023 at 3:07 pm
I would prefer a much younger President, but I gotta say that, for an 80-year-old guy, he done did good! It’ll be very interesting, in several ways, to see what happens in 2024.
February 9th, 2023 at 3:34 pm
I agree my friend. I think Joe gets it. I loved his SOTU. The Democratic Party evolved over several decades into the left elite forgetting some of their old friends—the working class. Clinton even threw labor under the bus by failing to listen to reasonable amendments to NAFTA for labor (and the environment). Under Clinton if you lost your blue collar job you arrogantly were told to go to college and get a new high tech job. what crap! Obama backed off only a bit from that elitist track. Hilary came back thinking she could pull in the suburbs to replace the old blue collar coalition. It didn’t work. That slow elitist evolution of the left helped fuel a working class populist backlash that help elect a narcissistic demagogue. But Joe gets it. His agenda is old ol’ fashioned New Deal liberalism. He may even bring much of the angry working class back to the fold. I love the way he deftly played the Republicans with his reference to some in the party suggesting we “sunset” Social Security and Medicare. Like he said as the room exploded, Ok we got a deal, they are off the table! Brilliant!
February 9th, 2023 at 4:26 pm
I’m glad you mentioned that — it was a wonderful moment! The post ran so long I didn’t have a chance to fit it in. (I only hope it comes back to haunt them.) Making it even better, any number of Republican politicians are on record, often on camera, advocating for exactly what Biden accused them of.
I quite agree with your analysis of where the Left went wrong. P45 was absolutely a very understandable outrage reaction by blue collar and rural folks — the very folks who built our roads, cars, TV, and washing machines — feeling disenfranchised and ignored, even disdained. It really was shameful, and I can understand why so many voted for he-who-shall-not-be-named in 2016.
It’s much harder to wrap my head around voting for him in 2020 after seeing him in action for four years. I was born in NYC and, although we left when I was five, have always maintained some connection to the city, so I was quite familiar with his lack of character or ability long before he entered politics. As an intelligent educated person, listening to him speak always made me cringe. A canonical empty blowhard.
I was slightly iffy on Joe Biden at first, but he’s impressed me a lot, and the SOTU was awesome. I’m all in now! He’s one of us. I love that he rode the train to work the entire 36 years he was in the Senate. A man of the people.
February 12th, 2023 at 1:50 pm
Good post. Thanks for the summaries.
We must thank the Chinese economy for beginning their collapse. The return of mfg is closely tied to this failure.
February 13th, 2023 at 8:44 am
Thanks! Pity it isn’t more tied to American pride and values, but we should probably take what we can get at this point.
For decades there has seemed an obvious line between two dots: Serious unemployment and crumbling infrastructure. So much work to do versus so many idle hands that could be put to work. And, obviously, the more people earning money, the more people spending money, and the healthier the economy.
But Congress would rather scrabble like blithering idiot children while their country fades away. We got the government we deserve (blithering idiots all around; lucky us).