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Historians: Biden's SOTU an Unprecedented 'Campaign Speech'

John Gizzi By Friday, 08 March 2024 09:19 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Many Republicans and conservatives will likely agree that President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address on Thursday was unusually combative and highly partisan.

For the most part, that reaction was predictable.

But another, very different group that is long familiar with the State of the Union Address and how it has evolved through the years, concluded the same thing — American historians.

"This was a campaign speech — 2020 on steroids," Arizona State University Prof. Donald Critchlow, Director of the Center for American Institutions, told Newsmax.

"If there are problems in America, it's because of his [President Joe Biden] predecessor who sought to destroy democracy," he added. "National debt: It went up under [former President Donald] Trump. Inflation: Blame Trump. Border crisis: Blame Republicans, even though a Democratic-controlled Congress in his first term did not enact his immigration legislation that would have allowed Dreamers to become citizens. And of course, there was reproductive freedom, which he blamed on the Supreme Court, singling them out, for overturning Roe — which actually restricted Abortion on Demand."

Critchlow added that "for all his bluster, bellowing, and playing to the Democratic enthusiasts, he proved obvious to the state of the union in 2024."

Mark Rozell, Dean of the Schar School of Government at George Mason University, agreed.

In Rozell's words, Biden's address was "an election year address pitched primarily to the Democratic base. It was extraordinary in its many references to his predecessor and unusually partisan for a State of the Union address. He brought the fight, and that's what much of his base wanted."

"Unbelievably antagonistic," is how Irwin Gellman, now working on his fourth volume in a critically-acclaimed series on the life of Richard Nixon, characterized Biden's address. "It's like nothing I've ever seen before."

Gellman told Newsmax that Biden was "essentially telling the Republicans 'you were wrong and I was right.'"

"And I have never seen a president mention his predecessor so directly and so critically in the State of the Union," he continued. "Usually, references to a former president are very oblique. But Biden kept saying 'my predecessor' and told so many half-truths about Trump and his record, such as only one percent of Americans benefited from the Trump tax cuts."

Chapman University (Cal.) Prof. Luke Nichter, author of the much-praised "1968: The Year That Broke Politics," told Newsmax following Biden's address that "tonight, we saw an embattled president, defensive, who alternated between partisanship and bipartisanship."

"Invoking 'hell' five times, he also appealed to history – FDR in 1941, Reagan in his 'tear down this wall' speech, and civil rights marchers over the Edmund Pettus bridge on 'Bloody Sunday' in Selma, Alabama.

He added that "perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was Biden's call to give Americans $400 per month for two years to buy a home, or to keep up with payments on a home, as well as assistance to renters — although these proposals were without further details."

Nichter called the address "a classic case of speech by committee, which caused a bit of political whiplash."

"He called for a bipartisan national security bill, yet quickly transitioned to the 'insurrection' that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, then back again to the need to work together to root out political violence," he added. "Biden never mentioned Trump's name, but he invoked him numerous times through euphemisms such as 'my opponent,' 'my predecessor,' and 'the last administration.' By taking a something-for-everyone approach, one wonders whether anyone came away satisfied."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Many Republicans and conservatives will likely agree that President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address on Thursday was unusually combative and highly partisan.
joe biden, donald trump, state of the union, partisan, democrats, combative, conservatives
Friday, 08 March 2024 09:19 AM
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