Dark Brandon in the House

Enough already: It is time to unleash Dark Brandon on this soul-sucking downer of a presidential race. And the most obvious place to begin is to invite him to the State of the Union address.

President Biden is set to deliver his annual address to Congress Thursday night, just two days after Donald Trump effectively locked up the Republican presidential nomination, signaling the unofficial start of the general election. This is a big moment for Mr. Biden. A sizable chunk of America has decided he is too frail and dotty to be commander in chief for a second term, and his team’s preferred approach to such concerns — pooh-poohing and whining about them — is not resonating. At least not in a good way. His State of the Union performance — and make no mistake, in an election year, this speech is high-level campaign theater — is the perfect opportunity to show rather than tell Americans that he still has the fire in the belly. When he steps behind the lectern, the president needs to slap on those aviators and start throwing some strategic punches.

Metaphorically, of course. No one wants the man to start a fistfight on the House floor wearing sunglasses.

Spicy Biden tends to play well with the public and the media. Look no further than last year’s State of the Union, when he earned high marks for mixing it up with right-wing hecklers in the audience. As House MAGA minions such as the representatives Andy Ogles and — surprise! — Marjorie Taylor Greene belched their disapproval, Mr. Biden engaged them with wicked good humor, at one point expressing delight that everyone had agreed to take entitlement cuts permanently off the table. The president likely benefited from the fact that Ms. Greene was decked out like the evil White Witch from Narnia. (Did anyone else keep expecting her to turn the Democrats to stone?) But he won the encounter because he visibly seemed to enjoy all the sparring, tweaking his antagonists without ever turning nasty.

He has a talent for walking that line, and his show of spirit and confidence helped quiet early rumblings about his vim and vigor. For a while.

With Mr. Trump ascendant and congressional Republicans scurrying to do the MAGA king’s bidding, Mr. Biden needs to kick things up a notch on Thursday. He shouldn’t bother waiting for the wing nuts to come at him — though the safe bet is that they cannot resist. He should sprinkle his planned remarks with pointed criticisms of Republican factions that have been kneecapping progress not only on his agenda but on their own party’s as well.

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