President Joe Biden is ready to offer a reassuring assessment of the nation’s condition rather than roll out flashy policy proposals as he delivers his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, seeking to overcome pessimism in the country and concerns about his own leadership, Zeke Miller and Seung Min Kim reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: The president will stand at the House rostrum at a time when just a quarter of US adults say things in the country are headed in the right direction.
His speech before a politically divided Congress comes as the nation struggles to make sense of confounding cross-currents at home and abroad — economic uncertainty, a wearying war in Ukraine, growing tensions with China among them — and warily sizes up Biden’s fitness for a likely reelection bid.
The president will stand at the House rostrum at a time when just a quarter of US adults say things in the country are headed in the right direction, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
About three-quarters say things are on the wrong track. And a majority of Democrats don’t want Biden to seek another term.
He will confront those sentiments head-on, aides say, while at the same time trying to avoid sounding insensitive to Americans’ concerns. Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said Biden would “acknowledge and meet American people where they are,” realizing their “economic anxiety is real.”
“I think the core message is: We have to make more progress, but people should feel optimism,” he added. Chapman University presidential historian Luke Nichter said the closest parallel to Biden’s present circumstance may be the 1960s, when global uncertainty met domestic disquiet.
Biden, he said, has an opportunity to be a “calming presence” for the country. “Usually we’re looking for an agenda: ‘Here’s what he plans to do.’ I don’t know that that’s really realistic,” Nichter said.
“I think Americans’ expectations are pretty low of what Congress is actually going to achieve. And so I think right now, sentiment and tone, and helping Americans feel better about their circumstances, I think are going to go a long way.”