When Biden showed up in Poland, the speechwriters dug through Reagan’s old speeches in the hopes of making him sound Reaganesque.
Too bad generations of speechwriters have already been farming that territory for too long. There were a few resonant unoriginal lines in what was otherwise a rambling and repetitive address that more closely resembled the rhythm of a Brezhnev speech.
What made Reagan speeches compelling wasn’t just words, it was the authoritative delivery and the moral authority behind the words. Reagan had built his political career around speaking things that the political elites didn’t want to be uttered: especially when it came to the Cold War. There was bold moral clarity in Reagan labeling the Soviet Union as evil because for so long the liberal elites had resisted stating the obvious. There’s no great moral triumph in pointing out that Putin is bad and that his invasion of Ukraine is wrong. Even few of Russia’s allies are especially enthralled with defending the move.
There’s no bold moral clarity in restating the popular consensus. Especially when it’s backed by nothing.
Reagan wasn’t in a rush to get into a war with Russia, but he also made it clear that America and the free world wouldn’t be pushed around. Biden has proven quite willing to borrow Reagan’s speeches and to be pushed around by Putin.
Biden is polling as weak on the Ukraine war and so he wants to borrow a little Reagan to sound tough, but despite the borrowing, he still sounds like Carter.