How badly did Joe Biden perform during his State of the Union speech? Badly enough that even Kamala Harris felt compelled to quietly correct him in real time. Cameras caught Biden’s VP nearly facepalming after Biden hailed the resistance by the “Uranians” to the Russians. Instead, Harris clearly mouths the work “Ukrainians,” as the close-up video shows.
Did Putin invade Uranus? Keep it clean, guys, keep it clean:
After Biden says “Uranian,” Kamala Harris appears to mouth “Ukrainian”
— Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) March 2, 2022
Our Townhall colleagues thought Biden said Iranians, which would have made it the only mention of Iran in the entire speech (via Twitchy):
WATCH: Kamala corrects Biden under her breath when Biden refers to “Ukrainians” as “Iranians.” pic.twitter.com/wkXcUpRu53
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) March 2, 2022
Biden just called the Ukrainians, Iranians. The only mention Iran will get in this speech and it was by mistake.
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) March 2, 2022
YMMV, but I hear “Uranians” in that too. Time to get out the telescopes and see if Putin’s imperial ambitions have become interplanetary. And if you’re looking for a substantial mention of Iran or Afghanistan otherwise, don’t bother, advises Jerry Dunleavy:
Biden mentioned "Afghanistan" twice, only in reference to burn pits & cancer. No mention of the Taliban takeover following his disastrous & botched U.S. military withdrawal. No mention of the 13 heroic U.S. service members murdered by an ISIS-K suicide bomber at Kabul's airport. pic.twitter.com/ad7ndEM026
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) March 2, 2022
The omission of Afghanistan is notable. Biden sold it at the time and as criticism mounted as his great success in ending the war. The abject disgrace of his abandonment of 14,000 Americans and tens of thousands of allies must have finally sunk into the consciousness of either Biden or his speechwriters. Whatever the reason, Biden’s not claiming victory any longer.
But even on Ukraine, where Biden’s speech worked best, he offered little of real substance in ten-plus minutes on the topic. The show of bipartisan consensus certainly worked for Biden’s speech as a good launching pad for the rest of his progressive laundry-list rhetoric, but it offered nothing new for Ukrainians, not even rhetorically, Henry Olsen argues in today’s Washington Post column:
Ukraine also can’t be very happy with the speech. European countries are stepping all over themselves with innovative new ways to help the besieged nation, making 180-degree turns in their policies overnight. Biden, by contrast, offered nothing new, with the possible exception of the announcement that he would release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, of 60 million to be released worldwide — in a dubious bid to keep the price of gas from spiking even higher than it already is.
That Biden move, as the Ukrainian ambassador surely noticed, was designed to help Americans, not Ukrainians. The president’s tough talk on Russia was welcome, but the substantive message was that the United States has already done pretty much what it is going to do to save the Ukrainian people.
The only new initiative Biden announced last night was a closure of American air space to Russians. Europe had done that two days earlier; Justin Trudeau closed Canada’s airspace on Sunday morning. That made Biden more than a day late, literally, and a dollar short, especially since he hadn’t bothered to have it imposed before the speech so that he could announce it as a fait accompli. Instead, it will take effect today. Other than a heartfelt callout to Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, the ten-minute opening was all talk and no real substance at all … and even the talk didn’t measure up to that offered by our allies in Europe.
Olsen wasn’t impressed with the rest of the speech either:
Biden said in his last news conference, in January, that he would talk more about his achievements and force Republicans to say what they are for, to provide voters with a clear choice. This speech didn’t do that. Instead, it was the first salvo in what will likely be an eight-month campaign to increase Democratic turnout rather than talk to independents, who are souring on him.
But there’s a problem with that, which was also starkly on display Tuesday night: Biden himself. Time and again, he failed to read the room and stepped on his own applause lines. Good politicians know that speech-making is as much about performance and delivery as it is about the words on the teleprompter. Forty years since he first won a Senate seat, Biden either does not know that or, worse, can no longer execute a basic political task. …
There was also shockingly little narrative to string the speech’s elements together. Biden is increasingly viewed by many as a weak leader in part because it’s really hard to put a finger on where he wants to take the country. Good leaders weave specifics into a story about America, as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan did. The conflict with Russia gave Biden a golden moment to put a stamp on his core beliefs, to explain what he thinks American democracy is and how it can be advanced at home and abroad through his agenda.
Just as he couldn’t read the room he spoke in, neither he nor his staff seems to be able to read the broader room that Americans live in.
Indeed. But at least Biden’s got his finger on the pulse of the Uranians.