The president is going to lie to us. And we will like it

The president is going to lie to us. And we will like it
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The president is going to lie to us. That should be the takeaway from tonight’s annual State of the Union address before a joint session of the Congress.

Actually, there’s another – we’ll like it.

Yet another – we’d be mad if he didn’t.

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Instead of those takeaways, there will be plenty of pernicious heehawing by the newsspeakers and opiniontalkers about Joe Biden’s actual intentions for reelection, his relationship with the House Republicans, his legislative agenda over the next two years, and other things that won’t matter in a few weeks.

“Biden faces torn political landscape,” USA Today’s frontpage said today. “President will address freshly divided Congress and skeptical voters.”


That these things won’t matter in a few weeks is in keeping with the State of the Union’s general meaninglessness. No policy has in my lifetime been informed or influenced by the president’s rhetorical prowess. No partisan reaction has in my lifetime informed or influenced his decision-making. No “narrative” about the State of the Union has survived a couple three days.

READ MORE: 'Republicans keep saying the quiet part out loud': Pence calls for privatizing Social Security

The last time there was anything meaningful about the State of the Union was the last time a president told us the truth. It’s no coincidence, I think, that the last president to do that was the only one who was never elected.

In his 1975 address, President Gerald Ford, who was appointed vice president by Richard Nixon after Spiro Agnew resigned before becoming president after Nixon resigned, said that the state of the union “was not good.”

He was right.

The next year he was out.

Presidents are usually particular about the truth, which is to say, they are usually particular about lying. The state of the union is always good, they say. It’s always strong, they say. It is always [put-sunny-affirming-adjective-here]. They say this even when a preponderance of the evidence says otherwise.

We expect it.

We like it.

We’d be mad if he didn’t.

By “we,” I don’t mean only American fascists allergic to any suggestion of the United States being anything the best best best ever ever ever. I mean liberals, too. While “conservatives” can wallow in the negative – because to be conservative is to be negative – liberals can’t, especially white liberals. They must believe in the triumph of the human spirit. Same for America.

So presidents say the union is good, strong, sunny affirming adjective.

To be sure, Biden has much to crow about. Though a majority of Americans doesn’t know what he and the congressional Democrats have done in the last two years, fact remains the economy is booming. It’s invisible, because the very obscenely rich are not reaping most gains, but make no mistake.

It’s booming.

The Post’s EJ Dionne said Biden is a revolutionary. He’s right. “The middle-of-the-road lover of compromise, consensus-building and comity, is a revolutionary — Ronald Reagan in reverse, if you will. He’s turning the nation away from the economic assumptions that took hold in the 1980s” (my italics). He said Biden is the leader of a “quiet revolution.” Right again.

A booming economy isn’t a union.

It is, however, a way to lie to us.

Truth is, the union isn’t strong. It hasn’t been since at least the time of Reagan and those “economic assumptions that took hold in the 1980s.” For the last 40 years, the Republicans have simultaneously starved and gavaged the federal government, depending on what it’s used for. If it’s programs and services for normal people, sorry, we’re broke. If it’s for the Pentagon, no worries. There’s no limit to the force-feeding of that oh-so-golden goose.

During the Republicans’ 40-year socioeconomic hegemony, instead of government of, by and for the people, it’s been government of, by and for “the right people” – and “the right people” are never Black and brown. However, in the last two years, the president and the Democrats have taken steps to overturn the old order. In effect, they have been revolutionaries.

They can’t say so, though.

They have to be quiet.

They have to lie.

From the Republicans’ sabotage in 2011 of the first Black president, via the debt ceiling, to the Republicans’ renewed attempts at sabotaging the current “revolutionary” president, again via the debt ceiling, the true nature of the union of the United States should be clear. It will never be strong, good, sunny affirming adjective as long as the Republicans don’t want it to be.

Biden will never say so.

He has to lie.

That should be the takeaway, but it won’t be.

READ MORE: The invisible 'Biden boom'

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