The problem with State of the Union addresses — or “speeches to a joint session of Congress,” which is the same thing — is that they are always dull and pointless and forgotten by everyone 35 minutes after they conclude. They make no difference, leave no lasting mark, and achieve nothing. It is an occasion for our political elites to engage in empty, self-congratulatory pageantry, sort of like the Oscars but for presidents. Not incidentally, they also tend to be as boring as the Oscars and to generate about the same level of viewer enthusiasm — enthusiasm which hovers somewhere in between dazed, confused, and catatonic.
Credit where it’s due, Biden’s speech did at least manage to up the ante and be even more grotesque and depressing than the average speech of this sort. Last night, Biden delivered his address to a half-empty room of socially distanced, fully vaccinated politicians in masks. It all looked quite creepy and dystopian, like