Tapper Rips Hannity’s SOTU Response: ‘Pick a Lane’


Jake Tapper on Friday criticized conservatives like Sean Hannity after the Fox News host, who has long attacked President Joe Biden as “Sleepy Joe,” said the president was too energetic during his State of the Union address.

On The Lead, the CNN anchor noted that prior to Thursday’s address, Republicans had been saying that Biden was “old, weak, gaffe-prone, senile, a pushover.” Tapper then played a clip of Hannity pivoting away from his usual description of Biden, and instead calling him “Jacked-up Joe” who “sounded like a hyper-caffeinated, angry old man.”

“Can Republicans have it both ways?” he asked GOP strategist Alice Stewart. “I mean, this also reminds me of the fact that they accuse him of being a dumb puppet fool and also this criminal mastermind. It just seems like you’ve got to pick a lane here, right?”

Stewart’s response was largely in line with how congressional Republicans tended to react to the president’s election year address: that it was too partisan and negative.

Although Biden “was under pressure to show that he had vim and vigor and stamina to be re-elected,” Stewart said, he nevertheless “came across—in many people’s minds—he came across angry.”

“He came across full of vengeance. He came across loud and grumpy. And look: this was a partisan speech,” she argued. “He came right out of the gate talking about his predecessor over and over and over again and taking it to Donald Trump, instead of talking about the State of the Union, which is what this was for.”

A bit later, Tapper said he believed Biden’s speech exceeded many Democrats’ expectations.

“I think a lot of [Democrats] going into it thought…I hope he gets through it. I hope he doesn’t, like, collapse. I hope he doesn’t, like, have some major gaffe,” he said. “He certainly seemed like an 81-year-old, but he did not seem incapable of doing the job. So at least that point—Republicans complaining about it being political, et cetera. I’m not saying I disagree with that—but that’s not the same thing as complaining about him being Weekend at Bernie’s.”

After Stewart replied that “the bar is pretty low,” Tapper countered that it was “Republicans who set the bar there.”

While Stewart credited Biden for getting through the address with relative ease, she claimed it was the president who’s actually “trying to have it both ways.”

“He campaigned on being the empathetic candidate—on unity, on normalcy. That was such a divisive speech, and that was so partisan against Donald Trump,” she claimed. “And he’s talking about how we’re having a great comeback in this country. It was a nasty speech, and he is the candidate that is saying he’s going to be unifying this country? That speech was very far from it.”

Tapper’s point about the shifting characterization of Biden by conservatives was made in a similar fashion on Fox News in the next hour by The Five co-host Jessica Tarlov.

“We’re now talking about Joe Biden as ‘too fiery,’ as ‘too aggressive.’ And yesterday we were talking about, ‘Joe Biden can’t find his pants. Joe Biden has dementia. Joe Biden is too old for this job,’” she recalled. “And that’s how I know that [the address] went really well: because the…people who would use the age attack are now basically saying he is an aggressive partisan.”

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