After a rough week filled with blunders, gaffes, forgotten names and more than 45 days without a formal press conference, President Joe Biden will take to the airwaves tonight to address the nation.
The primetime address comes on the eve of the 1-year anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdowns — at the time called the “coronavirus” in its first iteration. The address comes as millions of Americans line up for vaccines.
From the Oval Office, Biden is expected to call upon states to open vaccinations to all age groups by May 1.
He is also expected to, oddly, lay out an advanced directive for Independence Day gatherings — something that seems below the pay grade of the President of the United States and something that seems best left to local leaders. Nevertheless, aides say he will suggest that “small backyard barbecues” might be alright for July 4th, but only if Americans mask up, socially distance and take the vaccine. (We’ve got news for Joe; we’ve been holding small barbecues for months and not one of us has fallen ill.)
One thing is clear from the president’s plan to utilize the primetime airwaves: the Biden team accurately understands their greatest strength during the campaign — and former President Trump’s biggest weakness — which is speaking directly to the American people about the pandemic. Despite Trump’s daily COVID-19 Task Force press briefings, the former president at times underplayed the seriousness of the pandemic and allowed his daily briefings to veer off-course with conversations about injecting Lysol disinfectant and direct UV light into the body,
That is not to suggest that Biden was without his flaws. In fact, a year ago this week then-candidate Biden held a campaign rally on March 9 , 2020 — six weeks after Trump publicly announced the crisis and shut down incoming flights from China. During the March 9th rally, Biden can be seen maskless hugging then-Sen. Kamala Harris, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Sen. Cory Booker who were also not wearing masks.
Unfairly, Biden will get the credit for the vaccines now underway — something made possible by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.
No matter who deserves the credit Biden’s primetime address on COVID-19 from the Oval Office is smart Press strategy, pure and simple. He takes to the airwaves as a relieved nation sees millions being vaccinated, and after Texas, Mississippi, and Connecticut ease lockdown restrictions. Tonight’s address will also have the latent effect of getting the president off the hook, at least temporarily, for not holding a single formal press conference since he took office.