In his inaugural address Wednesday, President Joe Biden decried the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
“And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the willful people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground,” Biden said. “It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever.”
Political advisor and speechwriter Mari Maseng Will, who worked for President Ronald Reagan, said the words Biden directed at insurrectionists were among his most salient.
“That was powerful and all Americans were shaken to their very core by what happened here a couple of weeks ago,” Will said. “And all Americans want to believe that we’ll come out of this stronger.”
The country’s 59th presidential inauguration took place in unprecedented circumstances, including a pandemic and recent security threats, with thousands of National Guard troops securing a shut down National Mall largely devoid of spectators.
Biden’s inaugural theme was “America United” and his speech called for unity amid political and ideological division while standing strong against violent dissent.
“The right to dissent, peaceably, the guardrails of our republic is perhaps this nation’s greatest strength,” Biden said. “Yet hear me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunion.”
Speechwriter and debate strategist Jason DeSanto, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, said for the nonpolitical observers in the U.S. or spectators abroad, Biden’s levelheaded and straightforward speaking style had a comforting effect.
“You probably heard, potentially, relief from chaos,” DeSanto said. “Those come from some degree of being plain-spoken, and also being relatively vigorous, but also calm and reassuring and restrained. I think he achieved those things, mostly with delivery.”