By John Kanelis / email@example.com
Presidential speeches to joint congressional sessions have devolved over many years into partisan events.
Presidents of one party stand before senators and House members and deliver lines designed to draw applause. The way it usually plays out is that lawmakers from the president’s party stand and cheer while those on the other side of the room sit silently while their “friends” offer the cheers.
So that will be the backdrop next week as President Biden strides to the podium to tell Congress about his big plans to help the nation continue to recover medically and economically from the pandemic that has ravaged us.
Joe Biden has trumpeted himself as being a politician with plenty of friends on the other side of the room. He is a Democrat who has worked well — in the past — with Republicans in the Senate, where he served for 36 years before becoming vice president in 2009. Why, he’s even drawn high praise from his GOP colleagues over those many years.
They aren’t about to praise him now. The mood is markedly different these days from the time in 1973 when Biden first joined the Senate. There’s a whole lot of snarling taking place these days.
He’ll have a Democratic House speaker sitting behind him at the joint session, along with the vice president, Kamala Harris. We’ll get to watch them cheer the president’s remarks.
My curiosity will be piqued, though, when President Biden enters the room as the sergeant at arms announces his arrival. Will congressional Republicans have enough good manners about them to stand and cheer when our head of state enters? Or will they continue to exhibit their petulance over losing the 2020 presidential election?
I am willing to acknowledge that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at times bristled openly at Donald Trump’s remarks and behavior during his speeches to Congress. Her anger manifested itself spectacularly when she stood and tore up the text of Trump’s speech to pieces in front of the whole world.
If only we could expect better behavior this time around.