In a mixed bag of a speech, the US President seemingly attempted to meet his “unity” agenda by touching on issues close to all sides of politics, although for many progressives, it fell short of their expectations.
Biden’s approval rating is around 41%, only 1-4% above the approval rating of Donald Trump at the same point in his presidency, according to Gallup polls, meaning the Democrats may lose ground at the mid-term elections in November, unless Biden’s approval rating drastically changes.
Biden’s speech opened with a condemnation of Putin’s attack on Ukraine, assuring listeners that Ukraine and its allies demonstrated “an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny”.
He went on to say, talking about the sanctions placed on Russia by the US and its allies.
“[Putin] thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And he thought he could divide us here at home.”
“He has no idea what’s coming.”
The President assured Congress that the US would not put boots on the ground in Ukraine, but that it would in the event that Putin continues pushing eastwards,
“Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but [will] defend our NATO Allies – in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west. Every single inch.”
The Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova was present at the speech, and received a standing ovation from Congress, with many representatives wearing yellow and blue clothes as ribbons as a show of solidarity with Ukraine.
Biden received a applause from both Democrats and Repulicans when he proudly said that the US sanctions are “inflicting pain on Russia”, a claim which some accuse of exhibiting “economic nationalism” with a callous disregard for the everyday Russians that the sanctions are most likely to affect.
The President warned Americans that fuel prices are likely to continue to rise, but that the government would release barrels from US reserves in order to lessen the impact of said rise.
Biden went on to touch on various issues close to the hearts of different US political groups, but may have failed to appease anyone in an attempt to please everyone. He touched on protections for transgender children to appeal to progressives, while insisting that the US police force must receive additional funding to appeal to more conservative members, disappointing those who had supported him in the hopes that he might defund the police, a call taken up by Black Lives Matter protestors leading up to Biden’s elections.
The President also announced that the COVID pandemic is entering a new phase in which “COVID-19 need no longer control our lives.”
Republican Governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, delivered the opposition party’s response to Mr Biden’s address.
She likened Biden’s America to that of the 70’s, “when runaway inflation was hammering families, a violent crime wave was crashing on our cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map”.