Emil Guillermo: Biden shows he's ready for the fight

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State of the Union address? It was more like President Biden’s “Save the Nation” address.

And frankly, he had me at “Hello.”

Or more specifically, “Hitler.”

President Joe Biden started his State of the Union address by quoting President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on January 1941 saying, “I address you at a moment unprecedented in the history of the Union.”

Biden channeled Roosevelt: “Hitler was on the march. War was raging in Europe.”

“President Roosevelt’s purpose was to wake up Congress and alert the American people that this was no ordinary moment,” Biden said. “Freedom and democracy were under assault in the world. Tonight, I come to the same chamber to address the nation.”

The president was equating Hitler with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and with Donald Trump’s acquiescence to Putin.

“My predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, ‘Do whatever the hell you want,’” Biden said, quoting Trump. “A former American president actually said that, bowing down to a Russian leader. It’s outrageous. It’s dangerous. It’s unacceptable.”

But it’s a reality that the majority of Republicans want Trump to be our next president.

If the Hitler part of the SOTU address wasn’t enough to convince you that whatever the Republicans are cooking up is not so great for democracy, then wait. There are other parts of the speech all Americans can feast on.

It’s a long list that should have any sane American running as fast as they can from Trump.

How is it that a freedom-loving country like America can have the majority of its Republicans embracing a man who represents the same threat to American democracy as Hitler? Maybe they can’t see themselves as a threat because they see the rest of us as such strong enemies.

That brings us to the other line in Biden’s State of the Union address, which may well be the single most powerful one in the speech.

“You can’t just love your country when you win,” Biden said.

Of course, you work together, winners and losers, to make a better America. You find common ground. You’re on the same team.

You don’t stop the peaceful transition of power with an attempted insurrection.

You don’t proclaim as a party that the election was stolen and continue to deny the legitimacy of an election to this very day.

You don’t stop a real compromise on immigration because it makes for a GOP campaign issue.

You don’t balk at any real solutions because it’s better for you to continue to fight and argue about fixing a problem.

And that’s what we see from the Republicans. Most of the GOP response to Biden’s speech has been negative, saying he was dividing the country, not unifying.

But Biden last night wanted to bring us all together, not just based on ideology, but based on class.

He boasted about the good economy. The facts are undeniable. He cited historic job growth and small business growth for Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans. (A shout out to us!)

800,000 new manufacturing jobs.

More people with health insurance than ever before thanks to Obamacare, which Republicans want to ditch.

The racial wealth gap is the smallest in 20 years.

Inflation dropped from 9 percent to 3 percent, the lowest in the world and trending lower, Biden said.

If the political phrase, “it’s the economy, stupid,” is in play in 2024, it should give Biden a boost.

But most Americans see the economy like the weather forecast. There’s the actual temperature and then there’s the “feels like” temperature. And Americans are having trouble feeling how good things really are.

Biden gave assurances for all. “I’m determined to turn things around so the middle class does well, the poor have a way up and the wealthy still do well. We all do well.”

That’s not what you hear from Republicans, who under Trump enacted a $2 trillion tax cut that Biden said, “overwhelmingly benefits the very wealthy and the biggest corporations and exploded the federal deficit.”

The national debt rose by 39 percent under Trump to $27.8 trillion, higher than any other presidency.

And it was tax cuts to the rich that did it. That’s what happens when you cut out income. A nation’s debt rises. So much for conservative principles.

Biden promised a fairer tax code where billionaires who pay just 8 percent now will pay their fair share. And he vowed to change the fact that 55 of the biggest companies that made $40 billion in profits paid zero in federal income taxes.

Those were the things that stood out for me. But Biden came out strong and got stronger. He put to rest any ageist slams against him that he lacks the energy and stamina. No problem there–we saw it at the speech.

The other guy, the presumptive Republican nominee whom Biden never named, actually has more of a problem. And it’s not just energy, interest, and memory, the kind of ageist things the GOP has thrown at Biden. The real concern should be in his intellect and interest in doing the right thing for the American people, for our country. Is Trump smart enough to do the right thing and care about more than just himself?

Biden’s speech was probably more political than any State of the Union address in the past. But it was the speech that had to be given now as the country finds itself at a crossroads at home and in the world.

In such a divided nation, we all need to recognize how real the threat to democracy is in 2024.

When Biden is forced to mention “Hitler,” you know these are serious times.

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NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on