Biden’s State of the Union will kick off presidential Super Bowl
There will be many strange twists and turns on the way to the White House over the next two years. The long and winding road starts Tuesday with President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
Then the real fun begins. Soon the president is expected to formally announce his intention to run for a second term. He will have a tough race against any of the GOP candidates. But he currently has no significant Democratic primary opposition, while the Republican contest will likely turn into a raucous slugfest.
The bitter fight between the leading Republican candidates will bring out the worst in each other. Former President Donald Trump has already announced his candidacy for a return to the Oval Office and has been trading punches with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who wants to secure the Republican presidential nomination for himself.
Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor, is the most recent GOP candidate to enter the fray. Former Vice President Mike Pence has positioned himself for a run and other contestants will eventually throw their hats into the ring.
Biden will start what promises to be a long, strange trip in a submarine since he has a job rating that is underwater, according to a recent national poll conducted by Republican and Democratic pollsters for NBC News.
The biggest problem facing the president is public opinion on the state of the nation. Seven out of 10 Americans believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. In ordinary times, the pervading gloom would doom the incumbent. But these aren’t ordinary times since the GOP can’t get out its own way.
The midterm results demonstrated the GOP is hell-bent on self-immolation. Republicans had a great chance to win big in 2022, but the party spit the bit at the end of the race when the political environment was as favorable for the party as it is today.
According to the national exit poll, voters were in a fulsome mood and they faulted the president’s performance. The big red wave turned into a tiny pink puddle when the public seemingly came to realize the GOP would make things even worse than they already were. The Republican jefe, Trump, was even less popular than Biden and voters were more likely to brand Republicans than Democrats as extreme.
The chaos that has enveloped the GOP since the midterms has made the situation even worse for the party.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) tortured battle for the House Speaker’s gravel was a national debacle, which empowered the far-right in the GOP caucus. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — who has embraced conspiracy theories that would even make Trump blush — parlayed her steadfast support for the new Speaker in for choice committee assignments on the Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committees. In those roles, one of the most right-wing members of the House will stick out like a sore thumb and likely undermine GOP investigations into immigration policy and Biden administration actions.
McCarthy is holding an increase in the federal debt ceiling hostage in return for reductions in spending, but he has refused to specify the cuts. But soon after “organizing” the House, GOP members floated proposals that would comfort the comfortable and afflict he afflicted.
Proposed changes would weaken Social Security and Medicare, which are programs popular with Americans, and would replace the income tax with a 23-percent national sales tax that would increase taxes on working families and lighten the load for rich people. If that wasn’t enough, the specter of embattled and embarrassing disgraced congressman Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) casts a dark cloud over McCarthy and his caucus.
The chaos in the Republican ranks certainly helps Biden but he’ll need to step up his game to win reelection. His State of the Union address is a great opportunity to set the tone for everything that comes his way over the next two years.
Biden has a lot to brag about. His accomplishments include the rejuvenation of the economy with millions of new jobs and the generation of strong economic growth after the economic decline during Trump’s presidency. During his annual address to the nation he is expected to highlight his agendas to reduce gun and racial violence — with the family of the brutally killed Tyre Nichols along with Brandon Tsay, the hero who saved lives during the Monterey Park mass shooting, in attendance.
But more than anything else, the chief executive will demonstrate to Americans that he is the voice of calm and the avatar of stability who can move the nation forward in troubled and turbulent times. This approach to reelection takes the temperature of the times and his own personality into account.
The president’s argument should be that he serves as the responsible adult in the room, while Republicans are like crazy kids who just got their drivers licenses and are out for a joyride. He can depend on the chaos in the GOP ranks to ease his path for a return to the White House, but it’s up to him to set the course and steer the ship of state and his political fortunes over the next two years. The voyage begins Tuesday evening in the Capitol Building and hopefully ends in a return to the White House.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster, CEO of Bannon Communications Research and the host of his weekly aggressively progressive podcast, Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon. Follow him on Twitter at @BradBannon.
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