Power & Market

The Absurdity and Danger of the State of the Union

On Thursday night, tens of millions of Americans from across the political spectrum tuned in to see how President Joe Biden would perform in his third State of the Union Address. The president’s age and cognitive ability has become a top issue facing his re-election campaign. 

And with the primary election essentially over, Thursday’s speech was considered a pivotal opportunity for the president to demonstrate once and for all that he has the energy and capacity to stay in office until 2029. 

And so, as Biden finished his nearly ten-minute walk to the podium, America watched with bated breath to see how this 81-year-old man would fair reading a speech written by other people off a teleprompter. 

So how did he do? 

Well, according to his fellow Democrats and voices in the establishment-friendly media, he nailed it. The address was “fiery” and “fierce.” The president was “high energy” and “forceful” and spoke with a “sharp and partisan tone.” 

To be fair, the president was able to read most of the speech without serious issues. But there were flubs, mistakes, and some incomprehensible moments — especially when he tried going off script. None of that helped Biden’s explicit attempt to echo the address Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave in 1941 as he worked to maneuver the U.S. towards joining the war in Europe. 

Yet, Biden’s ability to read most of the words scrolling in front of him while keeping the mumbling to a minimum is meant to reassure the American people that he ought to remain Commander in Chief of the largest, most powerful military ever amid what the speech called an “unprecedented moment in the history of the Union.” 

How can a moment that echoes another moment from history be “unprecedented?” The speechwriters explain and, in so doing, provide a window into the troubling mindset of the Washington establishment. 

The advisors, handlers, or whoever wrote the address that the president read out loud last night clearly view the current situation in Eastern Europe as equivalent to the early phases of World War II. 

The not-so-subtle implication is that anyone who stands in opposition to Washington’s wishes concerning Ukraine ought to be treated with the same disdain and hostility as the Nazi sympathizers of the 1930s and ‘40s. 

In a similar vein, another line compared the threats “at home” — read: MAGA Republicans — to the days of “President Lincoln and the Civil War.” What makes our moment unprecedented, Biden recited, is that the “Union” is facing both these threats at home and abroad simultaneously. 

We’re all taught from a young age to consider Nazi and Confederate sympathizers to be among the worst people in history. People who deserved it when Washington’s forces slaughtered them in places like Dresden and Atlanta. 

The speech Biden read last night made clear that those actually in charge of the federal government view Americans who want negotiations in Ukraine or who are skeptical that the election system is free of establishment tampering as literal enemies of the United States. 

There is precedent for that in American history, and it’s not pretty.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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