It is a long-standing tradition to mark the first 100 days of a new presidency, although it has little real meaning. Perhaps more significant is what Joe Biden will tell a joint session of Congress on April 28. This address will be a sort of unofficial State of the Union speech. Advisers and speechwriters will no doubt be hoping that their man can get through the ordeal without saying something inappropriate or perhaps just incomprehensible, but the American people will be waiting to hear, from his own lips, the intentions of their new commander in chief.
Three Cheers for – Me!
It is reasonable to assume that the first segment of Biden’s address will be dedicated to recounting the achievements – real or imagined – of his administration since Jan. 20. One can assume that he will take a lot of credit for the falling COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and fatality numbers. How much of that credit will be deserved is debatable since his administration did not really implement a response to the pandemic markedly different from that put in place by his predecessor.
It is also virtually certain that Biden will talk up the economic gains made since he moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., though, once again, can he really take credit for those gains? After the reckless dismantling of the economy in 2020, it was inevitable that, as the threat of the virus waned, the nation’s commerce would come back to life.
Beyond the unearned self-congratulation, Biden is likely to dwell on several issues as a way of advancing his party’s political and economic agendas: climate change, infrastructure, and the need for stricter gun control laws are all likely to be discussed – and possibly in that order.
Addressing climate change – more commonly known as weather – is a top priority for the Biden administration because, as the political left anticipates, large swaths of American social and economic life can be brought under the strict control of government in the name of protecting the environment and saving humanity.
Repairing, rebuilding, and expanding American infrastructure present a golden opportunity for massive spending – and the diverting of large amounts of money to progressive pet projects. So, it can be expected that Biden will have more than a few words to say on that subject. Expect to hear an impassioned plea to Republicans to play ball on an infrastructure bill.
Voting rights, and the alleged suppression of them in red states like Georgia, are also likely to get a hearing. This is a divisive issue, though, as many American conservatives see the Democrats’ push to “expand voting rights” as something far more sinister: a plot designed to do nothing less than implement changes to how Americans vote that will guarantee future Democrat control of the executive and legislative branches of government.
There is no way such a speech could be delivered at this time, of course, without giving some attention to the issues of racism and police shootings. In today’s America, after all, it is obligatory to make race a centerpiece of any speech or discussion. Don’t expect Biden to present any solutions, though; instead, expect a lot of pandering to progressives and minority activists.
One issue that may not get more than a couple of minutes, or even just a couple of words, is illegal immigration and the full-blown crisis at the southern border. No fair and objective observer could possibly disagree that this administration has utterly failed in this area. Perhaps Biden will offer some weak excuses and maybe even blame his predecessor for the problem, but he is not likely to lay out any grand plan to deal with the chaos.
Another divisive issue is gun control. Americans have been buying firearms at record numbers for some time now, while Democrats continue to jump on every mass shooting as an example of why fewer guns should be in the hands of civilians. But already, despite their bluster, it appears that Democrats are not exactly biting at the bit to ram through sweeping new gun laws. Biden’s recent executive actions on gun control fell far short of what progressives would have hoped for. The Democratic Party knows that eviscerating the Second Amendment in the run-up to midterm elections could spell disaster. Biden is sure to raise the subject before Congress, but his words are likely to be heavy on emotion and light on substance.
For the Republicans, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina is slated to deliver a rebuttal.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.