A Critical Analysis of Biden's Address: Policy vs. Performance

It was perhaps the most important speech of his tenure as the President of the USA, unlike any previous one

by Sededin Dedovic
A Critical Analysis of Biden's Address: Policy vs. Performance
© Spencer Platt / Getty Images

President Biden's address on the situation in the USA and his mandate was a spectacle full of emotions and political maneuvering, but it also caused great criticism and controversy. Although the focus should ideally be on policy proposals and the country's vision, the event turned into a display of party loyalty and full of populist statements.

From the very beginning, Biden's way of speaking caused the surprised faces of those present. His rapid-fire statements, punctuated by emphatic exclamations, sounded more like an auctioneer trying to close a deal than a leader setting out a national agenda.

It is hard to remember such a performance by Joe Biden, even though he has been active in the political life of the USA for decades. Phrases like "Putin, we won't give up!" and "No child should go hungry!" it rang with urgency, but the unnecessary shouting and clichéd speech painted a pale picture.

And it seems that the president is not good even with his health, which Trump repeats constantly during his campaign. An occasional cough and a perceived stiffness in his movements fueled whispers of his fitness for another term.

Despite the accelerated pace, the underlying concern remained – can he handle the demands of the presidency for another four years?

A man pauses while listening to President Joe Biden speak during a campaign event on March 08, 2024© Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The reaction of the democratic side was a stark contrast.

One could almost imagine it was a rock concert rather than a formal address. Thunderous applause, cheers and even shouts erupted from the Democratic MPs at every turn. It seemed that the party that leads the greatest superpower in the history of mankind is not serious and that things have obviously changed in the democratic party.

It felt like a carefully orchestrated performance, with applause strategically placed to reinforce certain messages. This staged enthusiasm had a purpose. Democrats aimed to project a united front, projecting an image of unwavering support for their leader, especially given his relatively low approval ratings at the time.

However, the contrived nature of the response could not fully mask genuine concerns among some members of the party about Biden's effectiveness. There were some really interesting reactions after the president would cough or suddenly raise his voice and then stop as if he had lost his train of thought.

Republicans dissatisfied with what they saw

On the other hand, the Republican response was less tumultuous but just as impressive. House Speaker Mike Johnson has reportedly asked members of his party to maintain decorum following his disruptive tactics during last year's address.

But a subtle disagreement simmered just below the surface. Controversy lightning rod Marjorie Taylor Greene stole the show again with her red "Make America Great Again" hat, a silent rebuke to the Biden agenda. Others wore shirts emblazoned with Trump's police report photo, a defiant reminder of their allegiance.

Although they lacked the vocal fireworks of the Democrats, the Republicans managed to engage in passive-aggressive warfare. They would demonstratively roll their eyes or shake their heads in disapproval during certain points in the speech — especially when Biden talked about issues like education.

These nonverbal cues served as a constant undercurrent of disapproval.

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump attends an election-night watch party at Mar-a-Lago on March 5,© Win McNamee / Getty Images

The address followed a familiar script.

Biden positioned himself as a supporter of working families and the middle class, while he painted Trump as a villain - a friend of the rich and a threat to democracy. Namely, he did not mention Trump by name, but instead called him "my predecessor" with contempt.

Another significant development was Biden's explicit call for the Israeli government to stop using humanitarian aid to Gaza as a bargaining chip. The move was seen as an attempt to win over younger, more progressive voters who are strong advocates of Palestinian rights.

The announcement regarding a temporary port for humanitarian deliveries to the Gaza Strip further cemented this goal. Care for the environment, however, is only superficially mentioned. By contrast, Biden has passionately defended abortion rights and access to reproductive health care — a topic that will likely be a major talking point in the upcoming election.

The response of Donald Trump, the former president, was predictable and inflammatory. Unable to penetrate Biden's address, he resorted to fear-mongering and personal attacks. He called Biden "unhealthy" and claimed he had been "coughing all night," clearly capitalizing on concerns about the president's health.

He used Trump and his well-known insults against Biden and called him various derogatory names, but we will not convey that. We have to admit that this election is different from almost all the previous ones even though the same two candidates are again in the race for the presidency.

It is obvious that the current tense geopolitical situation affected the dynamics and way of conducting the campaign for this year's elections. Source: DW