President Biden sounded full retreat in his State of the Union address last night.
On the domestic front, that was a welcome development, since it signified the complete defeat of the radical socialist wing of the Democrat party.
On the foreign policy front, it was a sad day for America, for the Free World and for freedom loving people around the globe. Under Biden, America has led from behind on Ukraine, with the result that democratic Ukraine is all alone in its valiant fight against unprovoked, unjustified Russian aggression launched by a totalitarian dictator.
For what does America stand, if not for the defense of freedom in face of the forces of evil? Why must there be a treaty to require us to do what we know in our hearts and souls we should do?
Biden spoke about aggressors paying the price for their aggression, apparently unaware that this formulation accepts the success of that very aggression. Almost certainly, most of the price will be paid after the subjugation of Ukraine is a fait accompli.
Biden claimed credit for unifying NATO, proudly stating that the alliance would “defend every inch of NATO territory”… next time. What good are unity and next time for Ukraine today?
It is not as if this was a surprise, such as the Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Why weren’t we prepared this time? Where was the most minimal element of vision, the ability to see developments only months away?
The NATO membership standard leaves the next most likely target of totalitarian aggression out in the cold. Chinese dictator for life, Xi Jing Ping, has all but promised that the Chinese Communists will invade Taiwan, another freedom loving democracy.
That Biden took the easy way out is indisputable, but that is not to say that acting would not have been difficult and dangerous. Putin is an amoral tyrant who issued only a thinly veiled nuclear threat at the start of his invasion. Clearly any military aid to Ukraine would have had to have been modulated to avoid the risk of nuclear escalation. Yet doing nothing teaches Putin that he can scare off the West with nuclear saber rattling.
Even on something as easy as banning Russian aircraft from U.S. airspace, the Biden Administration is following the lead of the European Union and Canada.
Nevertheless, we can hope that the day will be won by the incredible bravery of the Ukrainians and the organic response of people around the world in condemning and boycotting Putin’s Russia and in offering aid in many forms and moral support in every way possible. Yet hope is not a plan.
Biden’s backpedaling is welcome on the domestic side. There was not one mention of systemic racism, the progressive diagnosis of America which has been so divisive. The word “justice” was not paired once with the word “social.”
So chastened is Biden by the crime wave let loose by Democrats’ attacks on the police that he outrightly repudiated the nonsensical defund-the-police movement.
Not once did Biden mention his signature domestic policy initiative, Build Back Better. Thankfully, that monstrosity of socialist, social justice and supposedly environmental spending is dead. Nevertheless, like a child writing to Santa, he did list most of its individual elements as separate items on a half-hearted wish list.
It might have been more productive to acknowledge why fellow Democrat Senator Joe Manchin opposed BBB. Manchin laid down some principles which he challenged Biden and his fellow Democrats to follow: there must be means-testing and work requirements lest the various programs take the form of simple give-aways; there must be full costing of programs intended to be permanent but fraudulently labelled as one-year efforts with only single-year costs in order to limbo under budget limits.
On energy, Biden was pathetic, trumpeting that he was releasing another 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to reduce gas prices and to tamp down inflation. That amount is equivalent to about three days of U.S. usage.
The real need is to ramp up U.S. natural gas production in order to wean Europe off Russian gas, not to mention to assure our own energy independence and the reliability of our own energy grid which is increasingly unreliable as it gets more renewable. And to continue the decade-long reduction of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which has been brought about by natural gas replacing coal.
His words on border security and illegal immigration were a ridiculous combination of denial, small-ball and unrealism about what might be achievable legislative reform.
No wonder, Biden is upside down in opinion polls, with his disapproval 13 points higher than his approval rating in the Real Clear Politics average.
Red Jahncke is a nationally recognized columnist, who writes about politics and policy. His columns appear in numerous national publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Hill, Issues & Insights and National Review as well as many Connecticut newspapers.