Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star’s National Political Editor Neil W. McCabe to the newsmaker line to give his review of the failed State of the Union address Tuesday evening by President Joe Biden.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by Army veteran, member of the Army Reserve, served in the Iraq war, Bronze Star medal recipient, and the very best national Washington correspondent in the country, the National Political Editor for The Star News Network and The Tennessee Star, Neil W. McCabe. Good morning, Neil.
McCabe: Michael, I am on board and on duty.
Leahy: Neil, the State of the Union last night we had the grifter-in-chief talk about and say nice, kind words about the president of the Ukraine. I didn’t hear him say anything that he was going to do to help the president of the Ukraine. Your thoughts?
McCabe: Biden spoke for a little over an hour last night, and he opened with the first 15, 20 minutes, really a tribute to the Ukrainian people standing up to the Russian invaders.
And, of course, that was capped with the emotional sort of introduction of the ambassador from Ukraine, who got a hug from Dr. Jill Biden.
And he said, hey, so Zelensky and the Ukrainians have asked the United States for a no-fly zone. So Biden said, you know what?
I’m going to ban Russian airliners and private jets from flying in the United States. So there is a no-fly zone in the United States. And the Ukrainians, well, they’re on their own.
Leahy: Yes. That’s the bottom line. Yes. We love you, you’re brave, you’re on your own.
McCabe: The Ukrainians are sitting there going, how much do we have to pay this guy? (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: That’s a good line.
Carmichael: More than China. (Laughter)
Leahy: That’s a very good line also, Crom.
Carmichael: Well, thank you.
Leahy: Neil, what’s the feeling in Washington after that Kabuki theater event by Joe Biden? I mean, I saw after the event, I mean, he was pretty much done by the last five minutes of that.
Over the last half hour of it, you can see him just sort of fading. What’s the general sense in Washington, D.C., about how effective that performance was?
McCabe: I think there’s two parts of the speech last night. There’s the content, and then there’s the delivery. To use an old Army phrase, the content was a soup sandwich. It was horrible.
It didn’t have any continuity. It was sort of splashed together. What I sort of had the idea is that they went in there with a speech that was supposed to reboot the legislative agenda, including trying to get something out of Build Back Better.
And instead they said, you know what? We got to do something about Ukraine. So they wrote 20 minutes on Ukraine, stapled it to the top.
And then they just sort of cut out little bits and pieces so that when he’s sort of rambling through his agenda, there was no continuity. There was no explanation. It was just like boom, boom, boom.
The bottom line is this: the president has no legislative agenda right now in Washington, D.C., because House Democrats are trying to figure out what they’re going to do in their retirement. They’re going to lose 40, 50. Some people are saying 70.
It probably won’t be 70, but they’ll definitely lose 40 seats coming up. And so people are trying to figure out, “what do I do?” Now the Senate is in play because Biden’s approval ratings are so bad.
The legislative season in Washington runs from the State of the Union straight through to July 4. If you don’t get something done by July 4, it’s not getting done. And this was a horrible start. The second part, of course, is the delivery. The delivery was … mangled. He was a drooling mess. (Leahy laughs) I swear.
Leahy: A drooling mess. That’s a very accurate description.
McCabe: I swear I heard him say that even though Putin is going to surround Kiev with his military, the Iranians are not going to give up.
Leahy: He did say that. He said the Iranians.
McCabe: I was like, wait a minute. He’s talking about policing and he says parole instead of patrol, which happens to a lot of people. But it’s like golly, man. It was something else.
What happens in Washington when he does these things, and the Democrats especially, they just sort of look around and they’re like, all right, you good with this? All right. Well, I guess it’s going to happen.
Carmichael: Neil, you said that legislatively if it doesn’t happen by July 1, it’s done. Of all of the list of things that Biden said he wanted passed, what will pass?
McCabe: This is the problem. There are some little pieces of legislation that will get through. For instance, maybe the daycare and they may be able to do something on prescription drugs.
It’s very difficult for anyone to vote against making drugs cheaper for people like Grandma. But I spoke to Grover Norquist yesterday for The Star News Network, and Norquist made the point that, in the reconciliation bill, you get one bite at the apple.
And that’s why they tried to pile everything in. With reconciliation, it can’t be filibustered in the Senate. And so they have to decide what they want to ram through the Senate through reconciliation.
And if they leave the progressive Green New Deal stuff to the side, the progressives will freak out and block it. Which is what they did all last year. And so basically, people are scrambling for the Build Back Better lifeboat.
Leahy: There was another interesting element to this, Neil. The Republicans had a response, but then also the progressives, Rashida Tlaib had a response as well. I didn’t watch the Rashida Tlaib response.
I watched the Governor, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, give her a response and she hit the notes. It wasn’t really a call to action, in my view. What was your take on both Kim Reynolds’ GOP response and the Rashida Tlaib response?
McCabe: I thought the Reynolds was standard boilerplate Republican stuff that somebody strung together, and it made sense and it was appropriate and was well delivered. So it’s really hard to knock what Reynolds did.
Leahy: It was kind of boring and predictable was my view of it.
McCabe: There was only one reason why I didn’t listen to the Tlaib response. And that’s because I’ve suffered enough in my life. (Leahy laughs)
Carmichael: So none of us watched it. So that makes all of us experts to comment on it. (Laughter)
McCabe: Let me say this. I got tremendous joy when I heard Marjorie Taylor Green and the congresswoman from Colorado, Boebert, when Biden said it’s time to secure our border and fix our immigration system and they started chanting “build the wall.”
Leahy: It was funny.
McCabe: Such joy.
Leahy: Build the wall. Build the wall. Build the wall. Duh.
McCabe: Those two are hilarious. They were heckling them all night and you could tell he was looking at her, looking at them during the speech.
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