Evidently there’s some sort of speech being given tonight around these parts. Oh, it’s the State of the Union address, America’s annual ritual of self-torture. You couldn’t pay me to watch this thing – okay, who am I kidding. If some mag wants to throw a few bucks my way to liveblog the thing, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I could also be persuaded to watch provided I could have some fun along the way. It is not an ideological thing as I barely watch when Republicans are in office. This is the most painfully boring, stilted, and phony staged event in our republic (and that’s saying a lot nowadays), and is just further proof of the decay of public rhetoric. Heck, even Lincoln’s annual messages were among the least inspiring of his public writings, but his were Shakespeare compared to what we get today.
Anyway, the folks at the Corner have a few good ideas about how to enjoy the evening somehow, as well as an idea for Congress to consider. Meanwhile, Kevin Williamson suggests a return to the good ole days, though with a twist.
The State of the Union address is my least favorite American political ritual. Explicitly monarchical in form and origin, it is an affront to republican manners, a vanity fair for the political class. Jefferson, I read, had the good sense to skip the ceremony and send a letter; the progressive Wilson resurrected the dog-and-pony show. (And that should tell you something about the real fundamentals of American politics.)
In its modern form, the State of the Union is an absolute embarrassment, no matter the president giving it. I liked George W. Bush, and liked to hear him talk: His SoTUs were ghastly, and the great-American-hero-in-the-gallery bits are particularly awful.
Obama’s a hip, modern guy, so here’s a thought: an SoTU Facebook update.
Fine by me. Alternatively I’m in favor of bringing back that Micro Machine guy to speed-read the thing before a joint session of Congress. Another possibility is to take all those stupid liturgical dancers – banished of course from ever setting foot in a Church again – and let them do a bit of interpretive dance while Maya Angelou or some beat poet reads the text.
It’s funny that he should mention Jefferson, because despite my err, unfavorable view of him, that’s one thing he most certainly got right. It is interesting that a Populist was the one who decided to scrap the presidential appearance before Congress while it was a Populist who resuscitated the practice. Indeed it does say something about the fundamental of American politics, and I would like to delve into that . . .
But folks we’re desperately running out of time. We gotta go!
(Thanks to Tony Schiavone for helping me get out of that one).