Let’s face it, when FOX News gives a Democratic politician - or any liberal in general - a B+, then you know that the individual delivered an exceptional performance, most likely an A. That was the grade the rabidly right-wing media network gave President Biden for his State of the Union address.

As someone who usually does not watch these annual speeches to the nation, I did buck my previous trend and decided to tune in for this one. Admittedly, I harbored some degree of apprehension, though not quite anxiety, wondering whether President Biden would be up to the task. Quite frankly, if they are being honest, many, if not most, Democrats, liberals, and progressives harbored similar concerns. For many on the right, the mood was most likely one of cynical anticipation.

As the speech progressed, I became more relaxed and witnessed a President who is superb at conveying his signature characteristics of hopefulness and affability. The former senator and vice president from my home state of Delaware delivered a first-rate performance. He is at the top of his game. Indeed, he engaged in a masterful game of “bait and switch” with Republicans. In essence, he played them like a fiddle.

That clever tactic was masterfully showcased during the speech when he sarcastically chided those Republicans who voted against the infrastructure bill he signed into law in 2021 yet then claimed credit for the jobs it’s bringing to their home districts, saying “see you at the groundbreaking.”

Moreover, the President skillfully lured Republican hecklers into a political trap when he suggested that the GOP had agreed not to target Social Security and Medicare. During his speech, Biden accused members of the GOP of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare and was met with an angry reaction from some Republicans, including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who shouted “You lie! You lie!” and “Liar!”

Other GOP members screamed and shouted “No,” but Biden responded to their criticism, arguing that he was not “saying it’s a majority” of Republicans who support the idea. “Anybody who doubts it, contact my office,” Biden said. “I’ll give you a copy. I’ll give you a copy of the proposal.” The President quashed attacks and, simultaneously, threw the political ball into their court. It was crafty and brilliant!

The State of the Union talk revealed the contrasting styles of the President and his adversaries. The Republicans, with their combative, flame-throwing, verbal heckling, unwittingly solidified their image as wanton, unhinged, guerrilla warriors. Biden, on the contrary, presented himself as the calmer, levelheaded, congenial counter-puncher.

One can only wonder why the President’s political opponents are creating such stark contrasts in temperament, as they are providing Biden with an enormous asset and playing right into his hands. Research shows that most Americans prefer politics that lean more toward civility than rancor. By keeping the hostility factor high, the GOP is in danger of facing the same fate as in 2020. Then, the Democrat’s candidate and eventual nominee, Biden, stated that the election was nothing short of a battle for the “soul of the nation.” Some of his opponents have failed to learn this lesson.

Political skill, shrewdness, and savvy aside, the fact is that Biden’s age is the monkey on his back, the party’s back and a source of serious concern among many Democrats. For good or ill, there is a sizable perception that the 46th President of the United States is too old to seek reelection. Party leaders and donors are undoubtedly concerned that voters will be loath to cast a ballot for someone who will be 86 by the end of his second term. Indeed, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that, within his own party and among Democratic-leaning voters, Biden’s support is tepid at best.

This is why it was evident that Biden aggressively emphasized the message of vitality, most likely to reassure voters that there is more than enough vigor left in his octogenarian body and soul. However, intense campaigning, regardless of age, can be a grueling process that takes its toll on the body.

It is almost certain that Republicans will attempt to weaponize Biden’s age and perceived fitness for office during the 2024 campaign. However, if the GOP nominee is Donald Trump, which is likely, then their candidate will also be a man in his 80s (and coupled with additional baggage), so this argument will be rendered moot.

The truth is that Joe Biden’s political career has been remarkably resilient. Despite enduring tragic, potentially life-altering circumstances, he has managed to rebound and persevere. Whether it is, the universe guiding him, personal grit, or perhaps, divine intervention or fate, he has weathered numerous storms that would have likely demoralized if not outright broken many other people. Such factors are a good reason no one should make the mistake of underestimating our current commander-in-chief.

BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Dr. Elwood Watson, Historian, public speaker, and cultural critic is a professor at East Tennessee State University and author of the recent book, Keepin' It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press), which is available in paperback and on Kindle via Amazon and other major book retailers. Cotnact Dr.Watson and BC.

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