Bidenology: Parsing the State of the Union 2023
About 95% of any State of the Union Address is fluff and lies. So was Joe Biden’s last night. All the supposed economic progress he touted is belied by the inflation chewing up family budgets. The new infrastructure and other spending is just pork for favored legislators; such things ought to be built by state and local governments.
But it was amusing that he taunted Republicans for begging for the money in their own districts, “And I’ll see you at the groundbreaking.”
Still, the economy actually isn’t in terrible shape. Gridlock, in which a divided Congress doesn’t do too much damage, ironically will help the Democrats from self-inflicted wounds. The country probably will suffer a mild recession this summer, then the economy will improve. The main thing people worry about, unemployment, probably won’t be too bad. Certainly nowhere near the 10% of the Great Recession, 2007-10.
He’s obviously running for re-election. And his theme is he’s going back to “Working Class Joe,” trying to get back all those Democrats who defected because of the culture wars, the hot wars and other nonsense foisted on them by the donkeys, even as the elephants were too lazy to do anything to really help their own constituents.
That’s why we’re building an economy where no one’s left behind. Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back, because choices we made in the last several years. You know, this is, in my view, a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives at home.
Of course, who’s been in charge the last five decades of the vast decline of working-class, middle-class America? Biden entered the Senate precisely 50 years and one month ago, in Jan. 1973. And became one of the most powerful U.S. Senators, then vice president, now president. So he’s as responsible as anybody for the disasters he’s not claiming to fix.
Beyond the rhetoric, there were only three major issues in the speech: Biden’s health, the Ukraine War and China.
Biden has looked weak lately. But last night he looked better than he has in a long time. His doctors got the drug cocktail right. I wish in the health care section of his speech he had revealed the formula so I could get some.
He stumbled on some words, but he’s done that all his career. In all, it was a good performance. Just with little substance.
In his 2022 SOTU a year ago, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Biden ordered, “The ruble is rubble” (an ad lib). He said, “When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.” The aim was to collapse Russia’s economy and split the country apart, something previously attempted by Napoleon and Hitler.
The opposite happened. Russia is stronger today. Despite heavy losses, it’s close to major victories in the Donbas, the area populated mainly by ethnic Russians, 14,000 of whom had been killed by the Ukraine military from 2014-22. The Russian economy quickly recovered.
U.S. Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, just said at a conference in Sweden:
Scale, scale, scale. The magnitude of this war is incredible. The Ukrainians have 37 frontline brigades, plus dozens more territorial brigades. The Russians have lost almost 2,000 tanks. If we average out since the beginning of the war, the slow days and fast days, the Russians have expended on average well over 20,000 artillery rounds per day. The scale of this war is out of proportion with all of our recent thinking. But it is real and we must contend with it.
In militaryspeak, he’s saying the U.S./Nato weren’t prepared for the war. Neither was Russia, but it has the capacity to ramp up military production. The U.S. doesn’t because it sent so much manufacturing to other countries during Biden’s 50 years in power; which Joe supposedly now is going to fix. In the meantime, our own military is running out of ammo.
Last year, the 2022 SOTU’s first section was almost entirely was devoted to Ukraine. For 2023, here’s all Biden said:
Folks, inflation — inflation has been a global problem because the pandemic disrupted our supply chains and Putin’s unfair and brutal war in Ukraine disrupted energy supplies as well as food supplies, blocking all that grain in Ukraine.
Yeah, the disruption that really was caused by the U.S.-EU sanctions on Russian energy. And this was the rest on Ukraine:
I spoke from this chamber one year ago, just days after Vladimir Putin unleashed his brutal attack against Ukraine. A murderous assault, evoking images of death and destruction Europe suffered in World War II. Putin’s invasion has been a test for the ages. A test for America. A test for the world. Would we stand for the most basic of principles? Would we stand for sovereignty? Would we stand for the right of people to live free of tyranny? Would we stand for the defense of democracy?
For such defense matters to us because it keeps peace and prevents open season on would-be aggressors and threatens our prosperity. One year later, we know the answer. Yes, we would, and we did. We did. And together, we did what America always does at our best. We led. We united NATO. We built a global coalition.
We stood against Putin’s aggression. We stood with the Ukrainian people. And tonight, we’re once again joined by Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States. She represents not just her nation, but the courage of her people. Ambassador, our ambassador is here. We’re united in our support of your country. Would you stand so we can all take a look at you? Thank you. Because we’re going to stand with you as long as it takes.
Our nation is working for more freedom, more dignity and more peace, not just in Europe, but everywhere.
Just a lot of bromides. I think he and the others in America’s ruling elite are trying to figure out how to get out of the Ukraine mess they caused. And yes, it was their fault. Former Israeli PM Bennett just revealed he was brokering a peace deal last March between Russia and Ukraine, but Biden put the kibosh on it. So all that death and destruction, and potential nuclear Armageddon, are on Biden’s head.
Trump had the right approach to China: Be tough, but make deals. The fact is China is unlikely to attack Taiwan. Supremo Deng Xiaoping, who reformed the country’s economy after Mao’s death in 1976, always said the unification aim was 2049, 100 years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. That’s still 26 years away. When I’ll be 94. So you youngsters will have to deal with it.
Taiwan’s Kuomintang (nationalist) Party is ascending, and favors unification, although on its terms, not Beijing’s. The Democratic Progressive Party, which favors independence, is receding. The fact is war would devastate China, Taiwan – and America. Imagine if container ships with all those goodies stop floating to America and the shelves at Walmart are empty and there’s nothing to deliver from Amazon Prime.
Here's what Biden said on China:
Before I came to office, the story was about how the People’s Republic of China was increasing its power and America was failing in the world. Not anymore. We made clear, and I’ve made clear in my personal conversations, which have been many, with President Xi that we seek competition, not conflict.
But I will make no apologies that we’re investing to make America stronger. Investing in American innovation, in industries that will define the future, that China intends to be dominating. Investing in our alliances and working with our allies to protect advanced technologies so they will not be used against us.
Modernizing our military to safeguard stability and deter aggression. Today, we’re in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world. Anyone else in the world. And I am committed — I’m committed to work with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world.
But make no mistake about it: As we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did. Look, let’s be clear: Winning the competition should unite all of us. We face serious challenges across the world. But in the past two years, democracies have become stronger, not weaker.
Autocracy has grown weaker, not stronger. Name me a world leader who would change places with Xi Jinping. Name me one. Name me one.
Just word salad. But if there’s a message, it’s that things with China can be worked out. The SOTU of course came just after Balloongate, which I think was blown all out proportion. Whatever it was, the White Balloon was irrelevant. The fact is China already has 300 satellites gathering intelligence on the whole world. This isn’t the 1950s. You even can use Google Earth to gather pictures of any place on the planet.
Biden, if his health holds out, and if the Ukraine War can be wound down without blowing up the world, has to be an odds-on favorite to win re-election.
John Seiler blogs at johnseiler.blogspot.com