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Cal Thomas: The state of the disunion

Cal Thomas, Tribune Content Agency on

If advance reports are correct, President Biden’s State of the Union address will sound more like a political stump speech than an honest assessment of where the country stands. The man who promised to be a uniter, will likely deliver one of the most divisive speeches of his presidency.

The White House released a few tidbits from the speech, including a line I haven’t heard in decades. “Whose side are you on?” the president will reportedly say. That line recalls the “Red scare” of the ’50s, which gave rise to the McCarthy era and his view that communists had infiltrated the government and were behind virtually every tree. It was a scare tactic then and it is one now, except then it was invoked by right-wingers. Now it is being used by a liberal president.

The line reeks of desperation. With his polls headed south that include, according to Gallup, a decline in the Democratic Party’s advantage over Republicans in party preferences for Black and Hispanic adults by nearly 20 percent, the president is trying to resurrect political ghosts from the past, hoping voters will be haunted by them today. It will likely reinforce the view, especially among young voters, that Biden doesn’t speak for their generation.

Something else from the advance speech clips. White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt says the president “will make the case to continue to build the economy from the bottom up and middle out.” Democrats have been saying that for decades. If they have not succeeded, which is the implication of that line, wouldn’t it be on them?

LaBolt then defaults to a familiar Democratic position, claiming Republicans want to reward “billionaires and corporations with tax breaks, taking away rights (meaning abortion, which has not been taken away) and “undermining our democracy,” which to Democrats is only “undermined” when Republicans are elected.

President Biden will go on (and on), according to LaBolt, about the need to lower health care costs, attacking drug company profits, tax breaks for the wealthy (the government takes in record amounts of revenue. It’s the spending, stupid) and Trump cozying up to Vladimir Putin.

Most of this is familiar boilerplate Democrat rhetoric. I thought Obamacare was going to take care of lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs? The business about evil corporations and the rich goes back to the days of Franklin Roosevelt. Maybe Biden thinks no one will notice?

 

Republicans should avoid the temptation to shout out during the president’s address, as some have done before. That will only divert attention from him and onto them. They will have their chance when their designated responder, Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.), follows the president.

Ratings for these speeches have not been good in recent years. Maybe they will improve Thursday night, if only because a lot of people will want to know if the president can get through the address without slurring his words and forgetting his place in the teleprompter. It may be his last chance to reverse what many voters believe– that he is not up to a second term.

Might I make a request? Would members of Congress please remain seated during the speech instead of popping up and down? It is distracting and annoying. Probably won’t happen, though. Maybe mandatory seat belts would work.

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Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com. Look for Cal Thomas’ latest book “A Watchman in the Night: What I've Seen Over 50 Years Reporting on America" (HumanixBooks).

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