State of the Union ritual is deader than the Latin mass

I was telling Swamp Rabbit that Joe Biden dodged more issues than he addressed in his State of the Union speech this week.

He sounded properly indignant about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but he didn’t seriously acknowledge the concerns that are alienating many of the voters the Democratic Party will need to avoid disaster in the midterms. I read out loud an example from the text regarding his “top priority”:

With all the bright spots in our economy, record job growth, higher wages, too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills. Inflation is robbing them of the gains they might otherwise feel.

“And that was that,” I said. “Nothing about how he’s planning to stop inflation from robbing Americans. Or about the fact that big corporations, the actual robbers, are using inflation as an excuse to raise prices well beyond what inflation alone is causing.”

Swamp Rabbit chuckled. “It’s the American way. If there’s money to be made, gouge ’em. Stop talkin’ like one of them progressives, Odd Man.”

I reminded him that Biden had mentioned how much more livable this country would be if we had a progressive agenda — a $15-an-hour minimum wage, cheaper prescription drugs, cleaner energy and so on. But he failed to dwell on how such goals could be reached.

Bottom line, the president seems to think that merely mentioning the need for reforms will motivate disaffected groups — young people, Blacks, working-class whites — to vote Democratic.

“That speech was for the corporate media gang,” Swamp Rabbit said. “If Biden said anything interesting, them middle-of-the-road mugwumps who write the od-eds wouldn’t give his speech a thumbs-up.”

He’s right, I guess. Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post approvingly noted that Biden seemed to be “retrenching,” which she defined as moving away “from placating his party’s liberal base to recognizing the sober reality that his legislative options are already limited.”

Therein lies the absurdity of the State of the Union ritual. The country hasn’t been this dis-united since the Civil War. The protofascist Republican officeholders protect the obscenely wealthy and refuse to denounce the would-be dictator Trump. The establishment Democrats hate Trump but, like the Republicans, would rather pander to wealthy donors than address the needs of the non-wealthy.

And mainstream media insiders like Marcus, weighing in on the ritual, continue to pretend the Democratic Party should find “common ground” with the party that would have been happy to let Trump overturn the legitimate results of a presidential election.

“Wise up,” Swamp Rabbit said. “The State of the Union is a phony event staged by phony leaders who would rather line their pockets than preserve government for the peeps.”

As usual, my mangy friend was exaggerating but not by much.

Footnote: My headline referenced the Latin mass because Biden is a practicing Catholic, although his allegiance to the big banks in Delaware seems to have been a lot stronger over the years than his religious faith.

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