Working at the White House hasn't exactly been a bed of roses lately, but you have to feel for the speechwriters. Trying to spin a year's worth of disasters into a triumph of modern liberalism would be hard even for the best fiction writers. And yet, heading into Tuesday's State of the Union speech, that's the task facing this president: pretending that his failures overseas, the high prices at home, and the deep unpopularity of this administration are all a fulfillment of his promise to do "great things."
After 13 months of Joe Biden, no one is confident that the man who vowed to answer "the call of history" could even find the phone. In a single year, Americans have gone from economic, energy, border, and national security to dancing on a knife's edge of inflation, crime, disunity, global upheaval, and war. The last time Joe Biden addressed a joint session of Congress, many have pointed out, he said the country was "ready for takeoff." How ironic, then, that he's stuck explaining his crash landing on everything from Kabul to omicron.
Let's face it, John Nolte argued, "the state of Biden's union is domestic and worldwide chaos." "After four years of peace under Trump -- of North Korea tamed, of peace deals in the Middle East, of Putin at a total standstill -- Biden's blundering and blustering, his obscene and shameful Afghanistan withdrawal, his dotage and stupidity, his killing of our energy pipelines while approving Putin's, have all brought about a terrible war in Ukraine. [And where it] could lead is unthinkable."
And it isn't just Republicans who think so. In the wake of the devastating assault on Kyiv, the president's approval rating plunged to an all-time low. In a poll by Biden's usual apologists -- NBC/Washington Post -- only 37 percent of Americans approve of the job the president is doing. Far fewer -- 33 percent -- approve of his handling of Ukraine. Asked if America is "stronger" or "weaker" under Joe Biden, double the respondents (48 percent) agree: "weaker." Perhaps most damning, the majority of people (62 percent) don't think Putin would have declared war if "Trump had been president" -- including almost 40 percent of Democrats!
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who spends her days trying to rewrite reality, responded to questions about the country's deep dissatisfaction with Biden by not responding at all. "Leaders lead during crises. That's exactly what President Biden is doing." And yet half the country doubts his ability to handle a crisis (not counting at least half of the world who must agree).
Adding to that perception, of course, is the administration's paranoia of peaceful protests. Terrified by the People's Convoy rolling into D.C., Democrats have decided to turn the Capitol into Fort Pelosi again. Thanks to the black chain link fence around Washington's most famous building, Biden looks like he's preparing for a Russian invasion, not a group of harmless truckers. "Out of an abundance of caution, and in conjunction with the United States Secret Service," the Capitol Police chief said, "a plan has been approved to put up the inner-perimeter fence around the Capitol building for the State of the Union Address."
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) couldn't help pointing out the irony. "So a fence works in Washington, but not the southern border?" His colleague, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), thinks the imagery is especially fitting for this administration. "Joe Biden will deliver the State of the Union to a fully-masked, 50-percent capacity crowd surrounded by a seven-foot fence and 700 national guard troops. Quite symbolic for his failed presidency."
To most Americans, it's less about what Biden will say Tuesday and more about what he has done. "The people of the United States are not fools," Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) warned. "They get what's going on in this country..." And until this president changes his strategy and confronts the crises at hand, the state of our union will continue to be a dismal one.
** Whichever direction he takes with his address, the president's assessment of our national state is likely to fall far short of offering an adequate remedy to a nation -- and a world -- in crisis. So, what is the state of faith, family, and freedom? And how can we together advance these pillars of our democracy? Don't miss my answer tonight, February 28, at 8 p.m. (ET) in the State of the Faith, Family, and Freedom address at FRC.org/Address.