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Biden’s Address to the Nation Was Nothing Special

President Joe Biden walks along the Colonnade of the White House Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

Yesterday, President Biden addressed the nation from the White House. In a twenty-four-minute speech, Biden discussed his response to COVID-19 and what his plans are for securing a safe transition to normalcy. Within the speech, he said every adult should be eligible for the vaccine by May 1. He then outlined the American Rescue plan, which brings huge disbursement of federal funds to individuals, states, and struggling businesses.

In my opinion, the most important line in the entire speech was, “If we do all this, if we do our part, we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day.” The president then said, “After this long, hard year that will make this Independence Day something truly special where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we began to mark our independence from this virus.”

The line was simply well written, but it raised some questions about reopening. The president said that everyone will see a semblance of normalcy in July; however, places that were previously called vectors of transmissions have already opened or will open shortly. The most notable example of this is our schools, which are open because of the significant distribution of various vaccines.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott is reopening at 100% and is lifting the mask mandate, a move in which I believe is somewhat premature but can be justified well before July. However, it’s not just states like Texas; in California, the hardest-hit state by COVID, school districts are reopening as well.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Los Angeles students are a critical step closer to a return to campus beginning in mid-April under a tentative agreement reached Tuesday between the teachers union and the L.A. Unified School District.”

In my hometown of La Cañada, our elementary school students are attending school in-person, and our middle and high schools are scheduled to reopen just after spring break in April, which is before July.

California, a state that has seen 55 million cases and 55,000 deaths, is seeing a fast-paced economic reopening, again, well before July. Another Los Angles Times article reads, “Most California indoor dining rooms and gyms could reopen by next week. The article also states, “Starting April 1, amusement parks also would be eligible to welcome back visitors, with restrictions, in that tier.”

Therefore, the question remains, why should we wait three months until we have a sense of normalcy? If states like California and Texas are reopening their schools, small business, and gyms within the next month or so, then why wait? The only reason these states can reopen while simultaneously maintaining low COVID-19 numbers is because of the mass distribution of the vaccine.

According to the CDC, under Joe Biden’s administration, fully vaccinated Americans can essentially act without severe restrictions. Below are the first CDC guidelines outline “how fully vaccinated people can visit safely with others.”

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Granted, Biden’s CDC director said, “Everyone – even those who are vaccinated – should continue with all mitigation strategies when in public settings.” In a sense, Biden could save himself in the long run because he seemed to deliberately vague in what he says is normal. If normal means there are absolutely no COVID-19 related restrictions, then we may see that definition of normal by July. However, as I said, a significant number of industries in high-risk states like California may open within the next month, meaning that several Californians could see “normal” well before July.

Another issue that I saw with Biden’s address was his emphasis on truth.

The president said, “Last summer, I was in Philadelphia, and I met a small-business owner, a woman, and I asked her, I said, “What do you need most?” Never forget what she said to me. She said, she looked me in the eye, and she said, “I just want the truth, the truth, just tell me the truth.”

First off, I’m not discrediting the story because it would be very awkward if Biden did lie about this, but if I were a small-business owner in Philadelphia during one of the worst economic recessions since the 1920s Great Depression, I would probably say fewer government tax rates on maintaining a business and greater consumer demand for my products – but maybe that’s just me.

In any case, Biden triumphed truth, which is nothing special since most politicians fixate on truth in their speeches. However, the largest problem that I saw was that Biden does not practice what he preaches. Basically, for a politician to tell the truth, one has to be transparent. If a president says, “My fellow Americans, you are owed nothing less than the truth,” then that same president should hold one press conference in his first fifty days in office.

According to ABC News, ” Halfway into his first 100 days, President Joe Biden has yet to hold a formal, solo news conference, raising questions about accountability with the White House under increasing pressure to explain why. Even as the nation deals with multiple crises — a deadly pandemic and the devastating economic fallout — Biden has gone longer without facing extended questions from reporters than any of his 15 predecessors over the past 100 years.”

While Biden does have a press secretary and a communications office, holding a single press conference would benefit the American people because he is speaking to the American people without the support of prepared questions, and he will have to think on his feet about controversial issues, like the number of detainees at the US-Mexico border.

The point being that Biden does not really have a leg to stand on when he talks about the truth since he refuses to answer unexpected questions from reporters. While I have strongly criticized certain media outlets for their political bias, without a doubt, journalism is a window into a politician’s soul. The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, where reporters directly ask the White House questions, is the belly of the beast. It is where a presidential administration’s incompetence is exposed, its motives questioned, its representatives berated, and its flaws highlighted. If Biden is unwilling to enter that beast, to open the window of transparency, then he cannot speak about the “truth.”

Overall, the speech was nothing special. It honestly felt like a repetitive PSA that lacked any compassion or emotion. His tone was consistent and uninspiring; if anything, the speech reaffirms his inability to spark greater American unity.

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

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