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President Biden’s speech Wednesday night failed on all counts: It didn’t sell his latest spending plan, it didn’t sell his larger agenda — and, worst of all, it didn’t sell him.
Start with the utterly bizarre “mask theater.” All the politicians in the room have been fully vaccinated, and Biden’s own CDC says that’s enough. So why the universal masking, and the social distancing? The message, cutting across the president’s occasional optimism, was that this nightmare will never end — which simply isn’t true.
Equally, obviously false was Biden’s now-routine effort to claim all the credit for successful vaccinations: All that was set in motion before he took office.
Then he moved into a series of disjointed claims about his “American Families Plan” that barely tracked, even though he was reading a prepared text.
It seemed like he was just skipping whole paragraphs and even pages. You could see even Democrats wincing above their masks.
He tossed in a few blatant whoppers, like his repeated claims that economists “left, right and center” agree his program will work just as he says.
Oh, and a classic Biden non-sequitur, attacking those who oppose his plans his intent to hike taxes on the rich: “Ask them, whose taxes are you going to raise?”
“No one’s” is the answer — because the opposition isn’t looking to spend trillions more than the feds already do.
Yet he never gave any clear unifying theme for the “families” plan, because it doesn’t have one. It’s just another grab-bag of items off Democrats’ wish list.
Then, bizarrely, he wandered into something like a State of the Union speech, ticking off mostly vacuous sales pitches for a host of bills he’d like Congress to pass.
Mixed in were lies about how he’d solved the border crisis as vice president, plus vague waves at a foreign policy (and trade: He talks “buy American” as much as the guy he replaced) and some noise about being tough militarily when the Defense Department is about the only federal agency he doesn’t want to spend more on.
The speech was packed with hoary clichés and empty rhetoric about unity, spiced with blather about “white supremacy” and “systemic racism” even as he was insisting (correctly) that nearly all cops only work hard to protect the public.
After all that, his effort to close with the traditional message of hope fell pretty flat, because he was out to show confidence in America after failing to give America reason to have much confidence in him.