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A Tale of Two Speeches

Thought Leader: Newt Gingrich
April 30, 2021
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By Newt Gingrich

Wednesday night was a tale of two speeches. We had President Biden droning to a nearly empty House Chamber. Then, we had Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) give the best followup to a presidential address to a joint session of Congress that I have ever seen.

The difference between the two speeches was made vivid by Frank Luntz’s experience with a class of 15 University of Southern California students. In describing his discussion with the students on an Inner Circle webinar with me the next day, the students clearly favored Biden’s liberalism over Scott’s conservatism. Yet, when the speeches finished, the students were totally and deeply disappointed by the President’s speech. They were instead impressed by Scott’s sincerity, the power of his life story, and even his references to religion. While the students weren’t necessarily religious themselves, they thought a more spiritual approach to our current political mess would be helpful.

Watching the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House all wearing masks even though they have been vaccinated was just painful. Far from following science, Biden, Harris, and Pelosi were clearly virtue signaling. To add to this, the absurdity of having 200 members present for a speech that usually has 1,600 people in attendance made for a very sad and depressing picture.

Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi must have viewed the image of the masked, sparse crowd as proof that America has lost its courage and its “cando” spirit. The delivery of the President’s speech would have further confirmed their sense that the Biden administration is incompetent, timid, and tired.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) falling asleep just validated the boredom most of us felt while watching at home. Biden is not a dynamic speaker under any circumstance. It is virtually impossible to get a strong crowd response when people are sitting so far apart with more empty seats than ones that are filled. This made the challenge to President Biden to arouse and generate enthusiasm beyond his ability.

The failure of the Biden presidency to engage the American people showed up vividly when Nielsen reported that only an estimated 26.9 million people had watched Wednesday’s speech. By comparison, Nielsen reported that 47.7 million people tuned in for President Trump’s first address to the Congress.

When almost twice as many people tuned in to watch President Trump, it says something about the lack of enthusiasm for the Biden presidency.

The lack of interest in the Biden speech should be a real warning to the Democrats. When you are promising trillions (not billions, but trillions) of dollars in “free” giveaways and people don’t care enough to tune in, you have a big problem.

The depth and seriousness of the reaction to big spending, big government liberalism was captured in the strong response of Senator Tim Scott’s rebuttal immediately after the Biden speech.

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