Tuesday, January 23, 2007

state of the union

i'm not really a fan of state of the union speeches. article II, section 3 of the constitution requires that the president:
from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient
somehow this administrative requirement that the president submit a periodic report to congress, has turned into an overrated presidential speech, filled with pomp and fake majesty, but often saying little of substance. once upon a time presidents fulfilled their constitutional mandate by passing a note to congress. now it's gotta be a network event.

every once in a while a president will use the state of the union address to announce a bold new policy or proposal. but recently it seems like the president has just used the SOTU speech to make well-worn proposal seem new. maybe i'm just idealizing the past.

actually, i think the speech really started going downhill in the reagan era. reagan's practice of seeding the audience with "ordinary folks" and then pointing them out as examples during the speech was considered to be a brilliant move at the time. but all it really did was make the speech more theater and less substance. these days pointing at people in the audience has become so standard that news reports cover what regular citizens will be in the audience even before the speech airs.

in any case, i'll be at the philadelphia drinking liberally tonight. everyone reading this is invited. (so is everyone who isn't). i'm not sure if i will stay past nine to watch the speech with the heckling crowds. maybe that's the only way to make these things watchable.