Biden Tries a New Presidential Tone: Whispering

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OPINION | politics

No president has had to address a room quite like this one. Biden took the moment to do something unusual.

Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images/Pool

By JEFF GREENFIELD

04/28/2021 11:00 PM EDT

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Jeff Greenfield is a five-time Emmy-winning network television analyst and author.

By many measures, President Joe Biden was facing serious headwinds as he delivered his first speech to Congress.

There would be no full chamber, no ceremonial grandeur, no forum for a president to deploy all the theater of a packed house, bringing his supporters to their feet over and over again with sustained cheers. He wouldn’t have an audience to stir up with stentorian rhetoric or stacked applause lines. There would be no “Skutniks”—those “regular Americans” introduced to the Congress and the nation from the gallery, chosen to symbolize heroism or to tug the heartstrings for a major policy.

And with all that missing—in fact, because it was missing—Biden managed one of the most striking Presidential addresses to Congress in memory.

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