Yesterday, President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address amid the largest ground war in Europe since World War II, the highest US inflation in 40 years, and an ongoing pandemic that has killed more than 950,000 Americans.
Biden devoted the opening of his speech to a pledge of solidarity with Ukraine’s elected government and a promise to hold the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, accountable for the current invasion. And he cast the war as part of a larger battle.
There is clearly a limit to American support for Ukraine, and Biden acknowledged it. “Let me be clear,” he said. “Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.” According to the New York Times, polls show that most Americans would oppose sending U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine.
Americans were eager to hear Biden’s thoughts on Ukraine. In a CBS News poll before the address, 73% of respondents said that Russia and Ukraine was the most important topic for Biden to speak about, ahead of the economy, inflation, and Covid.
Later, Biden addressed inflation. He acknowledged that Americans are feeling the pinch, but offered only vague solutions, such as reducing dependence on global supply chains by boosting manufacturing in the US.
Biden also talked about the US’ progress in combating COVID-19.
The President did not wear a mask while walking to the rostrum or during his speech. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris did not wear masks while sitting behind him, either.
New COVID-19 cases have declined more than 90% from their January peak, and the federal government recently relaxed mask guidance for much of America – Washington, D.C. included. Still, an average of 1,800 people are dying every day of the virus, and Biden admitted that new variants could emerge.
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