Gary Horton | Joe Biden Stakes Out Reelection

Gary Horton
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President Joe Biden delivered his 2024 State of the Union address last week.  

No doubt, Team Biden amped up their guy prior to the speech. Six cups of coffee? A shot of adrenaline? Whatever, Biden came out feisty and energetic (for Biden) and for over 60 minutes delivered a robust speech, both prepared and off-the-cuff, often tangling with and beating rambunctious Republican House members. It was one of Biden’s better recent performances, with a minimum of Bidenisms, and a plethora of solid, direct hits.  

It wasn’t perfect, but it put to rest the visual and mental image of Biden as a dithering, demented, feeble old man. Rather, he’s quite a capable speaker, and I would bet all of us, at whatever ages we are, couldn’t equally deliver to an in-person audience of over 500, and a televised audience of 35-50 million! Most would choke. Biden delivered a solid message to the House, to the Supreme Court, and to all America. 

Democrats reliably cheered it, while of course, Republicans widely panned it. Nearly a dozen disrespectful anti-American process types had to be escorted out. Good behavior is pretty much out the window with today’s MAGA reactionaries. I’m happy that our own Mike Garcia knows how to conduct himself. 

Biden made strong points: How the House voted down a truly bipartisan border control bill. Senators had worked for months getting this done … finally a comprehensive program to resolve our border problems – but Trump put his aged thumb on Speaker Mike Johnson’s soft skull and Johnson killed a bill that his own team would have otherwise supported. We were only two souls away from a real border bill – but Trump and his puppy Johnson killed it, so Trump could bask in the border confusion while later (possibly) gaining the right to claim the solution as his own. This is cynicism at its worse. You are I are made to pay so Trump can gloat. 

Biden also stared down the Supremes – noting the rights they’d stripped of American women over their bodies. “With all due respect, justices, women are not without … electoral or political power … You’re about to realize just how much … My God, what other freedom will you take away?” 

With so many Republicans calling for a national ban on abortion and many for a ban on IVF, Biden highlights an important issue. Few things are so unpopular with Americans in general and American women in particular, but thoughtfulness about what ordinary people want isn’t on Trump’s list. Staying out of jail is top on Trump’s list. 

Biden also hammered home the House’s dereliction of duty on our promises to Ukraine. The MAGA Vladimir Putin wing has held up urgently needed assistance to Ukraine, which also threatens our NATO allies. Trump’s heavy old thumb yet again pressed hard on Johnson’s soft head, and tens of thousands more die in Ukraine because of Trump’s vendetta against Ukraine (he was impeached over his extortion attempt against Volodymyr Zelenskyy) and his oddly submissive relationship to Putin. Never has America abandoned allies in favor of a totalitarian monster … but Trump loves autocrats, and so the ugly thumb presses against Johnson’s soft brain and the funding bill twists in the wind as Ukrainians die by the hundreds every day. 

Biden’s was a partisan speech, for certain. He’s got an agenda he needs to push forward for America’s safety and progress. He’s facing a MAGA wing with an agenda to shut down and burn down anything they can. (Recall the forever “shut down the government” sad, sorry, repetitive circus acts.) Selling straight to Americans in their living rooms is perhaps his best shot. Hence, the laundry list at the State of the Union. 

His best line of the night?  

“You can’t love your country only when you win.” 

And that’s the main thing, isn’t it? Democracy is about give and take and compromise and sometimes win and lose. Losing may hurt, but normal people get over it. The MAGA group still can’t. Instead of conceding, they give us riots, gridlock, duty abandonment, and even treason. Says Trump, “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” Treason. 

Me? I can overlook Biden’s occasional gaffes. Yeah, he’s old. But he’s loyal to American values and virtue in ways Trump never considers. Besides, Trump’s got his own gaffe machine in overdrive these days … 

Says Trump, “Get that war settled. It’s a bad war. And Putin has so little respect for (Barack) Obama that he’s starting to throw around the nuclear word.” (Biden is president, not Obama.) 

Says Trump, “Hungary fronts on both Ukraine and Russia.” (Hungary fronts Ukraine, not Russia – a basic important geopolitical fact.) 

Says Trump, “Nikki Haley was in charge of security on Jan. 6.” (Nancy Pelosi was speaker and in charge. Haley wasn’t in office at all.) 

Says Trump, “You know, Argentina, great guy. He’s a big Trump guy. He loves Trump. I love him because he loves Trump.” (Argentina is a country, not a guy.) 

Trump is quickly catching up in the gaffe-fest. My bet is he’ll fully crack under the weight of 90-plus indictments and a surging Biden. A Trump straitjacket isn’t unimaginable. In the meantime, President Biden must lead the country – and much of the world by association, democratically and respectfully.  

Biden did so in spades last week, putting everyone on notice that he’s not going quietly. Biden intends to win in November, and likely will.  

And toss in the House and the Senate, too. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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