A CNN poll that the network proclaimed as showing a “mostly positive reaction” to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech Tuesday showed that the speech actually hit a low point for those who had a “very positive reaction” to Biden’s remarks.
The poll noted that 71 percent of those surveyed had a positive reaction to the speech, according to CNN.
But a dose of context showed that just as opinion polls show support for Biden has declined steadily since he took office, reaction to the speech was below the levels of a year ago.
When Biden addressed Congress in April, he had a 78 percent positive reaction that included 51 percent giving him a very positive reaction.
But on Tuesday night, only 41 percent gave Biden a very positive reaction, which even CNN acknowledged “matches the previous low in CNN’s speech reaction polls dating back to 1998.” The poll had a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points.
The last time a president achieved this low a rating was in 2007 after a State of the Union speech from then-President George W. Bush.
Former President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech in 2018 achieved a higher “very positive” rating than Biden at 48 percent.
I'm sorry, but beginning with a stirring "Nations of the West, Rally to the Banner of Freedom" theme and then 15 minutes later talking about a tax credit to weatherize your home just doesn't work for me.
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) March 2, 2022
Commentators offered their rationale for Biden’s rating.
David Wilezol, a former chief speechwriter at the State Department, gave Biden a grade of C, according to Fox News.
“The best thing President Biden said tonight was his call to fund the police — an act of leadership to help stop left-wing radicals in his own party from setting policing policies,” Wilezol said.
Biden’s tough sentences on the Ukraine war “won’t make up for the administration’s posture of weakness which helped provoke Vladimir Putin’s invasion,” he explained.
“And except for a couple passing references to China, which are not nearly enough, this speech was lacking in addressing other national security matters. That’s not surprising, given the disaster the Biden administration created on our southern border and the rude awakening that awaits Americans if the administration successfully re-enters the indefensible Iran nuclear deal.”
A State of the Union speech that did not mention China a single time tells Americans that the Biden administration is not serious about the greatest national security threat to our country.
— John Ratcliffe (@JohnRatcliffe) March 2, 2022
Rob Noel, a speechwriter for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was even tougher, with a grade of C-.
“The intro on Ukraine worked well enough, but boy did he move on quickly and not to anything particularly compelling or new. As a technical matter, the speech felt strung together and disjointed, with cram-ins and jumpy transitions,” he said.
“The substance amounted to a dry list of policy points, like it was geared toward lawmakers in the room rather than people at home. He missed multiple chances to bring ideas to life with examples or audience shout-outs. The conclusion was too safe and forgettable for such a historic time.”
“Politically speaking, while he may have avoided losing ground, he certainly didn’t gain any. And that makes it a miss,” Noel said.
In 2017, Donald Trump pointedly recognized the death of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens on his watch and honored his widow Carryn Owens during his speech to Congress.
Biden didn’t even mention the 13 American soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan on his watch pic.twitter.com/L7WKI5R3uS
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 2, 2022
Rusty Hills, a former speechwriter for former Michigan Gov. John Engler who gave Biden a grade of C, said the speech was a visit to “laundry list land.”
“I did not come away with a strong sense of any plan to deal with gas and grocery prices, which are top of mind for almost every voter and citizen. I did not come away with any sense that here is a well-crafted plan of attack to deal with inflation. The problem of higher prices is here, now. President Biden’s proposed solution — not here, and not now,” he said.
“I got the sense that the speech underwent so many changes, so late in the process, that the president was still getting used to it as he delivered it,” Hills said.
After an hour long speech, Americans still don’t know how Biden’s going to going to fix inflation, secure the border, help America's kids, keep criminals off the streets, or stand up to Vladimir Putin. What a missed opportunity.
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) March 2, 2022
Jonathan Bronitsky, a former chief speechwriter for Attorney General Bill Barr, gave what he called the “tone deaf” speech a D+.
“The ‘buck stops with me’ president didn’t acknowledge responsibility for any of the problems he’s produced, ranging from unprecedented illegal immigration due to open borders to inflation and anemic job growth resulting from draconian COVID mandates,” he said.
Bronitsky called the speech “an insult to the intelligence of Americans.”