On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. His speech was marked by a combination of charm, humor and feistiness as he discussed his plans to “finish the job” of rebuilding America. In the midst of heated debates and Republican jeers, Biden managed to turn the tables, using the interruptions to his advantage.
First, there was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, shouting out at least nine times that Biden was a liar. Biden, recognizing an opportunity, used her heckling to make his point. He accused “some Republicans” of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare, though “not a majority” of them. And when the GOP side of the chamber erupted in boos, Biden grinned and welcomed “all converts.”
Biden was also fearless as he deftly wove together the painful reality of “the talk” Black parents have with their kids about how to interact with the police and his proposal for criminal justice and policing reforms rooted in core American values. He also called out Republicans who voted against his infrastructure bill but still asked to fund projects in their districts. “Don’t worry,” he told them, “I promised to be the president for all Americans. We’ll fund your projects. And I’ll see you at the ground-breaking.”
The stark contrast between this moment and the infamous “You lie” outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson during President Barack Obama’s speech in 2009 was not lost on the audience. Back then, the House formally reprimanded Wilson for his outburst. Now, Biden managed to turn the interruptions to his advantage.
Biden also boasted about his record of reducing the deficit and creating jobs. He proposed capping insulin prices at $35 a month and thanked Republicans who voted for his infrastructure bill. In a moment of levity, he declared “we got unanimity” when the GOP side of the chamber erupted in boos in response to his speech on Social Security and Medicare.
Overall, Biden’s State of the Union address was marked by a combination of charm, humor and feistiness, as he discussed his plans to “finish the job” of rebuilding America.
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