Interview Transcript, State of the Union Showcase Vintage Biden

Biden’s State of the Union (Courtesy of Politico)

By Hank Bartholomew

It’s no secret the last few months have been difficult for the forty-sixth President of the United States. Questions over Biden’s economic policies, handling of classified documents, and, above all, his mental fitness have been repeatedly raised. But a recent transcript of the Delaware native’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur, as well as March 7th’s State of the Union Address, are, to supporters of the president, glimpses of the classic Joe Biden that was elected President.

The transcript was of an interview last October, part of an investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents. The interview, led by special agent Robert K. Hur, led to testimony by Hur that critics of the President have used as ammunition–questioning Biden’s mental fitness for the highest office in the land, citing his “poor memory.” Hur, in his testimony to congress, even labeled Biden as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Some argue that the transcript of the two-hour interview tells a different story. At times Biden comes across as good-natured, conversational, and humorous. He jokes about his love of architecture, imitates the sound of a car engine, and pokes fun at his own age. At the same time, he appears serious, boasting of the achievements of his administration, including a submarine deal in Australia and curbing Chinese influence in African countries. At one point, Biden even discusses the death of his son, Beau, from brain cancer. The transcript doesn’t make Biden’s memory seem amazing–on multiple occasions, he even asks staffers if he was still vice president during certain years. But he also appears far from the completely confused old man that some have described him as.

As the ramp-up to the 2024 Presidential race heats up, Biden’s State of the Union was a bright point for Democrats who can’t help but wonder if a younger candidate would be the smartest option. Facing opponent Donald Trump’s landslide victories in the GOP primary, Biden delivered a sharp and thoughtful speech that reminded voters why he won the 2020 election in the first place. The eighty-one year-old seemed energetic and competitive, going toe-to-toe with Republican hecklers, urging them to reach across the aisle and pass legislation. It seemed like a photograph from another, earlier time, as Biden seemed to thrive off of debate and opposition. Much like Hur’s interview, Biden also addressed his age, but in a much more head-on manner, arguing that his age isn’t a problem; rather, it’s an indicator of his experience.

Biden went after the seventy-seven year-old Trump as well, reminding voters, “My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about January 6th. I will not do that. This is a moment to speak the truth and to bury the lies. Here’s the simple truth: you can’t love your country only when you win.”

Naturally, the President addressed the Israel and Hamas conflict, attempting to illustrate his efforts to help civilians disturbed by the fighting. He mentioned the current American operation to build a pier in Gaza to allow for larger shipments of humanitarian aid, but emphasized, “No U.S. boots will be on the ground.”

While initial polls don’t show a huge jump in support for Biden after both the transcript release and the State of the Union, they are still a glimmer of hope for the President’s supporters, and perhaps an indication that the past was not quite so long ago.