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Joseph R. Biden delivered his first State of the Union address (although it's not officially called that) last night and it was an ambitious speech for sure. We have plenty of coverage on it, as you'll see.

The atmospherics were strange, though, weren't they? A hall in the U.S. Capitol "filled" to a fraction of its capacity. Masks on lawmakers and other guests, even though members of Congress are fully vaccinated. I couldn't help but think that the all-female elbow bump between the vice president and the House speaker aligned behind the president would have made for a better historic image if Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi were more easily recognizable. But maybe not. It was certainly a sign of the times. And to critics of the mask-wearing, I'd point out some sobering facts: Nearly 5,000 people died from COVID-19 last week in the United States alone. About the same number of Americans are being hospitalized with serious coronavirus infections each day.

Afterward, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott delivered the Republican response to President Biden's speech. It's a tricky task, as I pointed out yesterday, but Scott pulled it off so well he rekindled talk of a presidential run 2024. That's a long way off, but if such a campaign were to take place and succeed, Scott would be the fifth politician to deliver both a State of the Union address and the opposition party's response. The other four are George H.W. Bush, Jerry Ford, Bill Clinton, and now Joe Biden. I mentioned that bit of political trivial in yesterday's newsletter, as well, although I was off by one letter when it came to George Bush. In my telling, it was Dubya, not his father, who gave the GOP response before later becoming president. Eagle-eyed Howard Mortman of C-SPAN spotted the error.

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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