Issues & Insights

Sleepy Joe’s Sloppy Acceptance Address: Mis-Staged, Misconceived And Mismatched

Eons ago, a callow speechwriter (who shall go nameless) slapdashedly inserted into a senatorial oration a throwaway line about debating anyone wanting to pin the 1982 recession on Reaganomics.


Who’da thunk an obscure state legislative candidate would accept that invite?

When senior staff went berserk, the young gun pointed out that they had all cleared the remarks.

Double oops. ‘Twas the seasoned pros who truly failed the boss.

Just as Sleepy Joe Biden’s brainless trust fumbled in staging, conceiving and greenlighting a sleepy and – alpha-to-omega – sloppy convention acceptance speech.

The epic fail started with the off-putting out-putting – by his lonesome – of a septuagenarian who nowadays makes “Low-Energy Jeb” Bush look like a raging fireball.

One word: Zzzzzzzzz.

The most jarring moment of a speech so jarringly wrong? The dead silence meeting any convo’s climactic moment: “I accept this nomination.”

Yeah, social distancing. But surely Biden’s not-so-big thinkers could have accommodated a spaced-out cheering section. And improved on the awkward close that transmogrified the affair from flat to freaky: the Veepster blankly staring ahead, then greeted by a wall of applauding screens.

But far worse than mis-staging was falling afoul of the Hippocratic parallel in speech construction: first, do your candidate no harm.

Recall also the drive-a-truck-through opening provided by 73-year-old Bob Dole’s 1996 offer of “a bridge to the past.” Which shoveled his youthful opponent an entire campaign slogan: “Bridge to the 21st Century.”

Pray tell: Did no Bidenite notice that his opening, and core theme, involved rhapsodizing about “giv(ing) people light” – even as Democrats were literally turning out the lights for the people of California? Thereby dishing out an easy layup for critics already casting those brownouts as a symbolic preview of Biden-endorsed nationwide renewables policies?

Apparently not.

Because beyond the misconceived theme, nearly the entire speech presented a proverbial “target-rich environment” for even the least opportunistic opposition attack dogs.

Take the massive mismatch between the First Stater’s “hope and light” rhetoric and harsh, unfair attacks on the incumbent – most egregiously, hanging blame on Trump alone for COVID-19-related infections, deaths, unemployment, lost insurance and, incredibly, small-business closures. While harping on the “national strategy” he’d implement “on day one.”

It won’t be hard to dig up Karl Rove’s analysis underscoring that Trump has already implemented every element of that strategy – except the distasteful and, yes, divisive mask mandate. Or to attribute business shutdowns in particular to tyrannical Democratic governors’ mindlessly inconsistent lockdowns.

Then there’s the grating contrast between Biden’s call to “heal and unite” versus leftist dog whistles of “knee to the neck” and “systemic racism” – the latter a blanket indictment of 60+% of the electorate.

Who conjured up playing into the nominee’s highlight reels? Like repeating lines he formerly flubbed into “truth over facts” and “you know the thing?” And the mind picture of handsy Uncle Joe leaning down to 6-year-old Gianna Floyd?

Most of all, what fun to be an oppo researcher highlighting, line-by-line, Sleepy – and now, Sloppy – Joe’s wall-to-wall hypocrisy, especially since he so thoroughly re-lashed himself to the mast of the Good Ship Obama?

A mere sampling:

“So we will never again be at the mercy of China … in order to protect our own people.”  Oh? The China you claimed is “not competition” and where your son owns 10% of a private equity firm?

“A health care system that lowers premiums, deductibles and drug prices.”  Like the promised $2,500 ObamaCare reduction?

An education system that trains people for the best jobs of the 21st century.”  The one keeping schools shuttered at the whim of the teachers’ unions you’ve pandered to – while abandoning African-Americans seeking school choice?

“An immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values.”  Like open borders for low-skilled illegals who inflate budgets while driving down wages?

“An opportunity for America to lead the world in clean energy and create millions of new good-paying jobs in the process.” Like Solyndra? And the aforementioned “lights-out” California renewables policy?

“We don’t need a tax code that rewards wealth more than it rewards work.” Like the Obama “recovery,” where 95% of income growth went to the 1% – versus Trump’s pre-pandemic record minority employment gains?

“(Trump is) proposing to eliminate the tax that pays for almost half of Social Security without any way of making up for that lost revenue.”  Like the Obama payroll tax holiday even liberals trashed?

“You and I together, one nation, under God.” “Under God,” you say? The phrase removed twice from Pledge citations at the convention?

“The days of cozying up to dictators is (sic) over.”  Like Cuba’s? Venezuela’s? Or “after my election I have more flexibility?”

“Nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise – voting.”

Like the pre-2016 election Obama-Biden regime?

“Remember what the president said (about Charlottesville)? There were ‘very fine people on both sides.’”  The interpretation explicitly debunked by CNN’s Jake Tapper?

“United in our pursuit of a more perfect union.” Including the 10-15% of Americans who are “not very good people?”

Mis-staged. Misconceived. Mismatched. All adding up to a misfire by a sleepy, sloppy Biden team apparently Missing in Action.

Bob Maistros, a messaging, communications and crisis specialist and former political speechwriter, is of counsel with Strategic Action Public Affairs. He can be reached at

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Bob Maistros

Bob Maistros, a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist, is of counsel with Strategic Action Public Affairs, and was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, three U.S. Senators, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at


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