State of the Union or of Biden? Trump pre-empts address

Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, March 7, 2024

The spotlight for the March 7 State of the Union address will be on the state of 81-year-old Joe Biden.

The White House has been on the defensive since Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report last month on Biden’s mishandling of classified documents raised serious concerns about his mental state.

Hur described Biden as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” He wrote that Biden couldn’t recall when he was vice president or when his son Beau died.

During a press conference where he was especially ornery, Biden disputed Hur’s claims about his memory and then referred to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as the “president of Mexico.”

Lately, the verbal stumbles have been catching up to the physical ones, observers say.

On Friday, Biden announced twice that he had authorized U.S. airdrops of aid into Ukraine when he meant to say the Gaza Strip.

In February, Biden told donors at a fundraiser that he had discussed the Jan. 6, 2021 protest at the U.S. Capitol with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who died in 2017. A day later, he recounted the same conversation about the 2021 incident that he had with former French President Francois Mitterand, who died in 1996.

“We are all nervous,” Axios cited one House Democrat as saying, citing concerns Biden’s “ability to speak without blowing things.”

Not one to let a crisis go to waste, former President Donald Trump said he would be delivering live play-by-play coverage of Biden’s address.

Trump also challenged Biden to debate him “anywhere, any place, any time.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s first lady turned down an invitation to the State of the Union address because she did not want to be seen with the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, according to reports.

Team Biden was reportedly hoping to set up a situation where images of Olena Zelenska, the wife of Volodymyr Zelensky, and Yulia Navalnaya would have provided a powerful backdrop to Biden’s address.

But Kiev reportedly expressed reservations after learning that Navalnaya would be in attendance at the event. But she also turned down the White House’s invitation.

Navalny, who was found dead in an Arctic prison colony last month, is held up as the leader of domestic opposition to Vladimir Putin by the West. But his legacy is seen as tarnished by many Ukrainians.

It has also been reported that the Ukrainian government wanted to avoid seeming too close to Biden amid Republican opposition in Congress to a $60 billion aid package for Kiev.

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