After giving hundreds, perhaps thousands, of speeches over his decades-long career in politics, the American people finally got to hear from Joe Biden as president Thursday night. It was a mediocre speech, and we're sure a lot of mediocre things will be said about it. This wasn't a press conference (President Biden apparently doesn't do those anymore) so the only thing we learned from Thursday is that the president knows how to read.
That's not to say it was an awful speech. It just wasn't exactly morning again in America. He spent the first few minutes taking down the guy who was there before him. As if the rest of us needed a reminder. Then spent the rest of the speech empathizing. Good speeches can do that without being downers. Think Bill Clinton.
Perhaps comparing a Joe Biden speech to those given by the Reagans and Clintons of modern American history is unfair. The American people didn't vote for a game-changer last November. Just any change. So we got it. Any change, that is.
If Joe Biden's speech writers were told to make him the anti-Trump, they outdid themselves. Even the commentariat gave out an extended yawn. But there were a few points of emphasis:
Fighting the covid-19 virus is "truly a national effort, just like we saw during World War II. Now because of all the work we've done, we'll have enough vaccine supply for all adults in America by the end of May. That's months ahead of schedule. And we're mobilizing thousands of vaccinators to put the vaccine in one's arm."
That is definitely good news. Now if we can just get the lion's share of the American people, not just a majority, to get the shot, we can have baseball and movies again. We keep seeing disturbing polls about the number of Americans who won't take the shots. You can lead a horse to water and all that. This national effort needs to focus on getting to 80 percent or higher. The government should enlist celebrities, ball players, civil rights leaders, movie stars, anybody who can convince fellow Americans to follow the science.
And "with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and I thank, again, the House and Senate for passing it, and my announcement last month of a plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff, including bus drivers, we can accelerate massive nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely. And meet my goal that I stated at the same time about 100 million shots of opening the majority of K-8 schools in my first 100 days in office. This is going to be the No. 1 priority of my new secretary of education, Miguel Cardona."
We've had our say on the spending bill. But yes, getting the schools reopened should be the No. 1 priority of the new secretary of education--and the rest of us. We're going to lose a bunch of kids to the streets if we don't get them back into the classrooms.
"If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July 4 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 or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day."
Let's hope so, Mr. President.
"This country can do anything, hard things, big things, important things. Over a year ago no one could have imagined what we were about to go through. But now we're coming through it. And it's a shared experience that binds us together as a nation. We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by. We're also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.
"My fervent prayer for our country is that, after all we've been through, we'll come together as one people, one nation, one America. I believe we can and we will. We're seizing this moment and history, I believe, will record, we faced and overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in this nation's history. Darkest we've ever known.
"I promise you we'll come out stronger with a renewed faith in ourselves, a renewed commitment to one another, to our communities and our country."
For a middling speech, it ended quite well. In times like these, Americans want a president who believes in the masses. And it never hurts to mention our shared history and all the things we've overcome before. And how all that has prepared us to overcome again.
So let's do this. Roll up those sleeves, y'all. And let's get baseball and movies again.