Takeaways From President Biden’s State of the Union Speech

From The Poynter Report with Tom Jones:

What were the big takeaways from President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address?

As always these days, it depends on where you get your news.

The usual suspects chipped away at Biden.

But many praised Biden’s optimistic approach despite facing, at times, disrespectful heckling from some members of the GOP. Many also lauded his vigor in what might be seen as a test-run speech for a second term as president. CNN’s Kevin Liptak wrote, “As Biden prepares to ask voters to keep him in office until he is 86, it was critical he look and sound like someone who is able to keep doing the job. His delivery was energetic, even if he stumbled over a few of his prepared lines. When Republicans interrupted him, he responded quickly, deftly turning their heckles back around into challenges.”

Politico founder editor John F. Harris wrote, “This time, it was ordinary Republicans putting the spotlight on themselves — through extraordinary rudeness. With boos, taunts, groans, and sarcastic chortles, the opposition party effectively turned themselves into prime-time props for President Joseph Biden.”

Harris added, “In terms of pure theater, the jeers helped Biden come alive.”

In fact, The New York Times’ Katie Rogers wrote, “He got an even bigger burst once the Republicans’ heckles and boos began, and was most animated when he veered off the teleprompter and addressed them directly before a live television audience of millions. At times, the House floor seemed like the British Parliament, where catcalls and shouted insults from the opposing party are tradition.”

Such heckling used to be unthinkable during a State of the Union address. In 2009, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson yelled out “you lie” while President Barack Obama was speaking. Wilson publicly apologized immediately afterward and was later formally rebuked by the whole House.

“Times have changed,” Rogers wrote in the Times. “Republican lawmakers shouted both ‘liar’ and ‘bull(expletive)” at parts of Mr. Biden’s speech, and no one appeared shocked. After the speech, Representative Andy Ogles of Tennessee defended yelling out ‘it’s your fault’ as Mr. Biden described the fentanyl crisis, telling reporters it was ‘a visceral response.’”

CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes said on air after the address, “We’ve seen Republican hecklers at States of the Union before, but this time the speech almost turned into a call-and-response at some point. At least four times the House speaker had to visibly shush members of his party … definitely not what the House speaker was seeking this evening.”

Lawrence O’Donnell, host of “The Last Word” on MSNBC, said, “That was the single most confrontational State of the Union address that we’ve ever seen. Anyone who picked Joe Biden for that is quite a good guesser. I never would have predicted that this guy, who goes in there deliberately determined to do the opposite, ends up delivering the most confrontational State of the Union address ever.”

O’Donnell added, “This is the worst possible night for (Speaker) Kevin McCarthy. The negotiation ended in that room with Marjorie Taylor Greene yelling at a president who took her on, handled it right in front of McCarthy. And McCarthy, by the way, there is an isolated camera on McCarthy that’s going to show him saying ‘no, no, no,’ every single time they did that.”

Here is more journalism regarding the State of the Union address:

Poynter’s PolitiFact with “Joe Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address, fact-checked.”

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz with “A combative Biden defends record and challenges Republicans with 2024 in view.”

The New York Times’ Jim Tankersley with “President Biden Is Not Backing Off His Big-Government Agenda.”

A breakdown of the actual words Biden used in this piece from The Washington Post’s Dan Keating, Hannah Dormido and Nick Mourtoupalas: “The words that hadn’t been said in a State of the Union until Biden said them.”

A roundtable of New York Times columnists weigh in on Biden’s address.

CNN’s Clare Foran with “Sarah Huckabee Sanders draws sharp contrast with Democrats in GOP rebuttal.”

The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent with “Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s strange ‘woke’ rant reveals a big GOP problem.”

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