Joe Biden didn’t meet the moment during COVID-19 speech

December 22, 2021
President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 response on Dec. 21, 2021.
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Just days from Christmas, Americans are being asked to don masks and social distance once again as the omicron variant of COVID-19 surges across our country and around the world.

After promises of vaccines and booster shots to ward off the potentially deadly virus, we’re all a little anxious and hoping COVID-19 won’t dampen our holiday spirit after all we’ve endured these past two years.

Seeking to quell sagging poll numbers on his competence in addressing the latest variant, President Joe Biden strode into the White House Tuesday afternoon to inspire his fellow Americans that this time, with this plan, he and his administration would finally put the pandemic in our collective rearview mirror. And once again, Biden – elected largely on a meme of competence and being best equipped to confront the virus – left many with more questions than answers following his remarks.

Certainly, the commitment to provide hundreds of millions of home testing kits is smart – one can’t know whether they are sick or potentially contaminated if tests are not available to them. Same with the commitment to have military personnel bolster front-line workers and first responders who are increasingly under significant physical burdens as they try to address this latest spike in infections.

And yet, when will the testing kits become available? When will the website become active? How many family members can receive a kit? These questions were not addressed.

A test of presidential leadership

What I was looking for Tuesday from President Biden was leadership – millions of us have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 800,000 people have sadly lost their lives to this virus.  

Americans have looked to the president of the United States at times of great stress. President Lyndon Baines Johnson addressed the American people before a joint session of Congress to outline how he would continue to carry the torch of his slain predecessor to promote civil rights and provide a safety net for the poor. President Ronald Reagan sought to bring the country together after the tragic explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986. I drew great comfort as I watched the president seek to comfort the nation from my high school classroom.

But the speech Tuesday afternoon?  Less than inspiring. 

Looking for action

I hoped President Biden wouldn’t go after those Americans who elected not to receive a vaccination or booster. I believe we all need to do our part to protect ourselves and others, but assailing his fellow constituents as not doing their patriotic duty rang hollow. Yes, some 400,000 citizens in America lost their lives to COVID-19 this year, but I thought  Biden’s assertion that these deaths were largely preventable is a categorical assertion he did not have the facts to back up.

The president said things are much better now than they were before. Does he not realize that more people have died this year from COVID than last year?

Actions speak louder than words, President Biden. The American people are looking to the federal government to halt the spread of one of the most dangerous virus strains since the flu pandemic swept across America between 1918 and 1919. For those looking for the occupant of the Oval Office to provide a strong and reassuring blueprint to move America beyond this pandemic, the president’s words were largely halting. We need a strong and coherent prescription to combat COVID-19 and the various strains of the virus. President Biden’s remarks Tuesday afternoon were not the prescription the American people had hoped for.

Ron Christie is CEO of Christie Strategies LLC, a strategic advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. He is the former special assistant to President George W. Bush and deputy assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney.

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