(FOX 9) - President Joe Biden steps to the rostrum of the House chambers Tuesday night to give one of the most important speeches of his still young presidency.
"You couldn’t have a more timely moment to address the nation," Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar told FOX 9.
More than a century ago, President William Howard Taft warned an incoming Woodrow Wilson about the isolation that many times comes with the office. "This is the loneliest place in the world,"
Taft told him. For all of the advisors surrounding the president, in moments like State of the Union address, it is all about him. He alone must sell his agenda, he alone must console and reassure the country – and in this case, the world.
"People are scared," said professor Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. "And the president is stepping into that pulpit to provide some assurance to a country where maybe half of Americans don't trust them, don't support him and think ill of them."
The State of the Union Address was supposed to be President Biden’s opportunity to rebrand his presidency. While the president was able to pass a COVID relief package and a massive bipartisan infrastructure bill, the second half of his "Build Back Better" agenda has stalled in congress.
Meanwhile, labor shortages and supply chain clogs have led to the highest inflation in 40 years. Additionally, Americans can’t buy a car at the actual sticker price, and even if they could, rising gas prices are making harder to fill the tank without busting the family budget.
Whatever message the president had hoped to craft on inflation and the economy, it was all derailed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"Joe Biden ran on a domestic agenda," explained Jacobs. "He talked about health care. He talked about free college. He talked about providing a base for Americans who are slipping out of the middle class. Vladimir Putin has taken that from him. He is now virtually a wartime president."
But Klobuchar says the war in Ukraine presents an opportunity for the president to unite the country and remind Americans what it’s like live in democracy that’s doesn’t live with the threat of getting invaded by its neighbors.
"You know, we’ve all been through hell in our country, and a lot of times it’s divided us and kept us," said Klobuchar. "We’ve been disconnected from each other. When you see the people ofUkraine, what they’ve done, it makes you value what we have."
The president is still expected to talk about inflation and he will propose raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He’s also expected to call on Congress to expand the child tax credit that helped raise thousands of children out of poverty during the peak of the pandemic.
Jacobs believes the president needs to cement his agenda while at the same time projecting confidence to the world.
Joe Biden has got to step into that moment and provide assurance that the state of the world is in his hands and that he is a leader in that world," said Jacobs. He also needs to remind Americans, "that things are better in terms of economic growth in terms of six million new jobs in terms of COVID being at a better spot, though obviously far from cured."