Biden's State of Union message gets counter-programmed ... by his own administration and policies
From his Fed chairman to his border patrol chiefs, Biden's declaration that America was "unbowed and unbroken" was undercut.
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It's a time-honored tradition in Washington for a president to deliver his State of the Union address and frame his successes and policy vision before allowing the opposition party to offer its rebuttal. But Joe Biden upended the tradition, somehow delivering the counter-programming to his own message Tuesday with a series of negative headlines generated by his own administration.
In the hours before Biden spoke from the U.S. Capitol, his administration announced the nation had suffered its worst trade deficit in history last year at nearly $1 trillion. Shortly thereafter, his Fed chairman warned inflation was not abating as expected and would be sticking around longer because of a tight labor market that produced an unexpected 500,000-plus jobs in January.
Taming inflation "is likely to take quite a bit of time," cautioned Jerome Powell. "It's not going to be, we don't think, smooth. It's probably going to be bumpy."
Not to be outdone, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh somehow managed to pick the morning of Biden's second address to announce he was bolting the Cabinet for the greener pastures of the National Hockey League.
And the top Border Patrol chiefs — delayed for weeks from testifying to Congress by their boss, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — managed to finally raise their hands on Tuesday morning and deliver a devastating portrait of the insecure border, leaving no doubt that Biden's policies had empowered drug cartels to fatally poison thousands of Americans with fentanyl.
Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief John Modlin said the Biden border was so lawless it defied description. "We went from what I would describe as 'unprecedented' to a point where I don't have the correct adjective to describe what's going on," Modlin told the House Oversight Committee.
He acknowledged the cartels were fueling the fentanyl crisis with the money they were making trafficking humans across the insecure border. "It's almost limitless, the funds they have," he testified.
"I do not have enough agents," he added for emphasis.
His cohort, Rio Grande Sector Border Patrol Chief Gloria Chavez, told lawmakers border walls are effective and more are needed, undercutting another Democrat talking point,
The entire lead-up this week to Biden's address was filled with such self-inflicted bad news and contradictions. Even the Census Bureau got into the action, highlighting numbers showing poverty dropped across the country ... on former President Donald Trump's watch from 2019 to 2021.
The negative headlines undercut Biden's plan to assure the country it was "unbowed and unbroken" and that he has plans for dealing with the fentanyl crisis plaguing middle America and putting the economy on the right path.
"Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years," he declared in one of the lines designed to generate applause.
For sure, there are some statistics giving the president optimism. The jobless rate is the lowest since 1969, but many fear it is a mirage to eventually be swallowed by recent mass layoffs and the stubborn inflation.
More consequentially, Biden's portrayal of the country and his effort to focus on kitchen table issues Tuesday night fly in the face of most Americans' perceptions. There wasn't much pride in the weeklong delay in shooting down the China spy balloon finally downed on Saturday. Nearly two-thirds of Americans in a poll released Tuesday disapproved of Biden’s handling of the episode.
Only 37% of Democrats in a poll last week said they wanted Biden to run for a second term, a dark omen for a Democrat thinking about running for reelection. And four in 10 Americans, the highest number ever recorded in the Washington Post-ABC poll, said they are worse off since Biden took office. Much larger numbers think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Even the New York Times ran a column Tuesday declaring Biden "shiould not run again."
Rep. Austin Scott, a Republican from the battleground state of Georgia, told the "Just the News, No Noise" television show that such frustration was driven by the contradictions between Biden's rhetoric and record.
"It's what Joe says versus what Joe does," Scott said Tuesday night. "And, you know, it shouldn't surprise us when he ran as the moderate in the campaign for president in the Democratic primary. And then if you look how he governs, he's extremely far to the left, even of President Obama."
The unprecedented barrage of negative polling and self-inflicted bad news headlines was tailor-made for Bidens' chief rival, former President Donald Trump, who obliged with a stinging rebuttal to his successor's big address.
"Drug cartels are now raking in billions of dollars from smuggling poison to kill our people and to kill our children," the 45th president declared in a prerecorded video address.
"Real wages are down 21 months in row," he added, arguing that massive spending bills passed in the previously Democrat-controlled House and Senate overheated the economy by pumping in too much cash.
"I am running for president to end the destruction of our country and to complete the unfinished business of making America great again," Trump said. "We will make our country better than ever before, and will always put America first."
The official GOP response came from newly minted Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the nation's youngest governor at 40 taking on the oldest president ever to give a State of the Union address at the age of 80. She struck a very simple contrast, noting Biden laid out a plan for government to rule Americans' lives while Republicans believe government should be there simply to serve its citizens.
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