My findings from Biden’s speech, which lasted just over 20 minutes, are listed below. They are in no order other than the order I wrote them down while watching the speech.
1. Donald Trump dug the hole: Biden did not mention his predecessor by name, but especially in the early moments of his speech it was very clear that the current president bears much of the blame for the country’s struggles with the coronavirus pandemic at the feet of the previous president. “A year ago we got a virus that hit silence and spread uncontrollably and denied it for days, weeks, then months,” Biden once said. “It led to more deaths, more infections, more stress and more loneliness.” At another point, Biden pulled out his mask and was amazed that it had turned into some kind of political statement.
3. At war with the virus: In the language he chose – and in the comparisons he made – Biden wanted to make it clear to Americans that we are at war with Covid-19. He said the country was “on a war basis”. He noted that Covid-19 had now killed more Americans than World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. Even when quoting “Farewell to Arms” – “many are strong in the broken lands” – Biden referred to Ernest Hemingway’s novel about World War I. The message was clear: this is not an enemy the United States is used to fighting. But it is an enemy nonetheless, and the need for sacrifice and unity is as great as it was when America fought against the Axis powers.
4. Truth is important: Again, according to No. 1, Trump was not mentioned by name in this speech, but he was all about that. “We know what to do to fight this virus. Tell the truth, follow the science, work together,” Biden once said, a direct charge against Trump’s rejection of facts and science about the coronavirus over the course of the year Year 2020 campaign. “You owe nothing less than the truth,” Biden said elsewhere. And even when Biden made a largely optimistic comment about a return to normal – more on that below – he was open and transparent that things could go sideways, that variants of the virus are out there, and that if proper mitigation practices are not followed we could expect a further increase.