I thought President Joe Biden was upset by the FBI raids on the home and office of Grifter fascist Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday. And it seemed appropriate: Giuliani tried three times – with Ukraine in 2019, with the election officials in 2020 and with the violent insurgents on January 6, 2021 – to block Biden’s presidency. Perhaps it was okay for Biden to be overshadowed by Giuliani’s overwhelming legal troubles when he first addressed a joint congressional session.
But it wasn’t Biden. On Wednesday night, he wrapped FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, as well as Obama’s good ideas and some of Senator Bernie Sanders’ better ideas, into a Scranton-shaped agenda for racial and economic justice. It went beyond anything he had promised to run for president. He called it a “blue-collar blueprint” for change, but unlike many other people who sing “blue collar,” Biden made it clear that he was seeing not just whites, but the entire multiracial working class.
The president clearly saw female victims of domestic violence and black men killed by police, greeted dreamers (and he must do more than greet them) and said, “Transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know your president has your back. “He’s already made some big noises in support of the unions, but that was extra:” Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions are building the middle class. “He called on Congress, the PRO – Adopt the law and a minimum wage of USD 15 per hour.
Oh, and if we talk about Rudy Giuliani, which he didn’t, Biden rightly called the January 6th uprising “the worst attack on our democracy since the civil war” and marked a passage between the racist insurgents of the 19th century and theirs Descendants of the 21st Century. After that, the GOP sent out their only black Senator, Tim Scott, to deliver the counter-argument. “America is not a racist country,” said Scott. He wasn’t convincing – except maybe racists.
In a week when former Democratic guru James Carville reprimanded Democrats for preaching “wakefulness” rather than his old bromide “It’s the economy, stupid,” Biden did both. It was extraordinary. “We came together to heal the soul of America,” he told us. It’s not healed, but it’s a start.
Biden has woven arguments for compassion with a pitch for economic competitiveness. He has taken action against climate change in relation to jobs and invested in long-term care professions related to families. He denounced “trickle-down economics” and “white supremacy” without it looking like left-wing jargon. Biden told us that “650 billionaires added more than $ 1 trillion to their wealth during the pandemic” (although he does not endorse or support Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal’s worthy wealth tax).
The longtime Establishment Democrat translated progressive ideas on Wednesday night – paid family vacations, serious police reform, free preschool through community college education, extending generous tax credits for children through at least 2025, substantial tax hikes for the rich, providing clean water, and replacing lead pipes (I have which is called progressive? Which century is that anyway?) – into American pragmatism: “These are the investments that we make together as one country and that only the government can make.” Forty years after Ronald Reagan declared, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem,” the Democrats garnered their best rejoinder to date.
Fittingly, Biden took a few minutes to extol what he has accomplished over the past 100 days. His exceptional (so far) handling of the pandemic and his enforcement of the American rescue plan give him a longer path for his even more ambitious proposals – the American employment plan and the American family plan (get it? It’s all American!), Which will be pulling increasingly more Opposition, including from Democrats. Did he defuse it with this speech? Probably not. I loved when Republicans refused to embrace his proud declaration that his short-term child tax credit cuts child poverty in half (yay, child poverty!), And also when they reluctantly championed his war on cancer (but the self-declared) Grim Reaper Mitch McConnell not).
B.iden did all he could in addressing Congress. I’ve come this far without describing what I was expecting as the highlight of the night: to see two women, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanking Biden on the podium. As he greeted them, Biden said, “Madame Speaker, Madame Vice President … No President has ever said these words from this podium, and it is time.” In fact, one day there will be three women up there.
Biden never and shouldn’t have mentioned Giuliani or Trump. But you could still hear echoes of the evil that they were doing. “We have to prove that democracy still works. That our government is still working and delivering for the people, ”he said. “In our first 100 days together, we acted to restore people’s trust in our democracy.”
I found it unexpectedly touching to see Biden approach this miniaturized joint congressional session – a few hundred people instead of the roughly 1,500 that usually clutter the chamber. The smaller number was about Covid, but also about security concerns after our government’s last meeting on January 6th.
“Democracy still works,” Biden promised, despite what Giuliani tried. I am glad that the embarrassed former New York City Mayor’s legal troubles did not overshadow Biden’s unexpectedly extraordinary speech. Giuliani’s subversion of democracy will shadow him for the rest of his life. Biden will continue to undermine what the right-wing Trump and Giuliani have tried to achieve – and I hope he will surprise the left, including me, who doubted him.