Politics

Five Reasons To (Not) Watch the State of the Union Address

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From a Wash Times preview of President Bush's sixth State of the Union Address and, arguably, his most important (especially not counting the other five, or the two yet to come):

The White House has made clear the speech will focus on five issues—the global war on terrorism, health care, education, immigration and energy—instead of a laundry list of policy initiatives used in previous addresses….

"The president is going to address the areas that are foremost concern for Americans," [press secretary Tony] Snow said. "When you have a Democratic Congress that came in two weeks ago saying, we want to get things done, we've got some offers that they're going to be pretty good for them."

Democrats, though, appear ready to oppose Mr. Bush at every turn. On Saturday, shortly after Mr. Bush proposed expanding health care coverage by putting incentives into the tax code for individuals to buy their own, Democratic leaders immediately opposed the plan….

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, said over the weekend as she announced her presidential candidacy that she "will spend [the next] two years doing everything in my power to limit the damage George W. Bush can do."

The fun begins at 9PM ET (and this time, I think even Nickelodeon is carrying the talk).

More here.

Of course, the best part of recent SOTUs–at least for 15 years or so, are the special guest stars who get a moment to stand up when recognized. Many are selected for such an honor, but few are chosen (?). In any case, even fewer are remembered.

Some Reason remembrances of SOTUs past here and here.

Gene Healy of Cato has a nice piece up about how the SOTU, once a humble exercise in info-sharing, metamorphosed into what one senator called a "cheap and tawdry imitation of English royalty." That's all here.

UPDATE: Howard Deutsch points us to The State of the Union Address Drinking Game 2007.

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  1. The SOTU has to be the most boring thing on TV. Shows aimed at pre-schoolers are more exciting and informative. Healy’s piece is good, if a little bit over the top. I like the quote “cheap and tawdry imitation of English royalty,” but for the fact that, these days, English royalty is a cheap and tawdry imitation of itself.

  2. If I were president, I’d submit mine in writing and skip the TV nonsense. However, my first act would be to abolish like eight or 10 cabinet positions, so we’re clearly living in fantasy land here.

  3. The White House has made clear the speech will focus on five issues — the global war on terrorism, health care, education, immigration and energy

    Hmmm…4 of those 5 areas the White House has been anemic to downright disasterous. Immigration has been the only issue of those 5 where the president has actually NOT been despicable.

    “The president is going to address the areas that are foremost concern for Americans,” [press secretary Tony] Snow said.

    After 6 years…it’s about damn time. Unfortunately, he’s still the same appallingly bad speaker he’s always been.

    “When you have a Democratic Congress that came in two weeks ago saying, we want to get things done, we’ve got some offers that they’re going to be pretty good for them.”

    Yeah. Right.

  4. You know, I wouldn’t watch the SotU speech even if my Ideal Libertarian President were giving it, because they all have the same style:

    “Short affirmation. Another affirmation. And shake fist as cue for lots of applause.” (That last sentence is given with equal stress on each syllable.) (Then lots of applause.)

    Clinton I and Bush II, men at opposite ends of the rhetorical skill spectrum, have both used the same style. No way will I watch this. I’ve got “Snakes on a Plane” on DVD.

  5. Is it just me, or does W give “the most important speech of his administration” about once a year?

  6. You left out the most important reason to skip it: New episode of Veronica Mars on the CW.

  7. In an effort to save everyone some time, I know what he’s going to say:

    War on Terror – throw money and people at it
    Health Care – throw money at it
    Education – throw money at it
    Immigration – throw money at it
    Energy – throw money at it and/or create bigger and better regulations so consumers can throw money at it directly instead of through taxes

    I’m just glad Heroes is on Monday night.

  8. I’m just glad Heroes is on Monday night.

    Unfortunately, this is Tuesday.

  9. Madpad – I think he means he’s glad Heroes wasn’t pre-empted for the SOTU like the Tuesday lineup will be.

  10. Will there be a shadow SOTU statement put out by the Libertarian Party? Does anyone care?

  11. Only good thing about SOTU=Daily Show the following night.

  12. I’m betting that all of the above watch it anyway.

  13. I’m not watching for the simple reason that he won’t give the real state of the union. If he included things like: “Entitlements and reckless spending will either bankrupt the country in 5-15 years; thanks to our insane financial policies, the money you have in the bank is decreasing in value every month; don’t get too used to $50 a barrel oil, cause when we initiate the next war of choice and start bombing the mullahs in Tehran, it’ll double in price; and thanks to this congress and previous congresses who failed to do their sworn duty, I can now pretty much tell you what rights you have on any given day and deprive you of those I choose, so stay on my good side and vote Republican.”

    That, I might watch.

  14. i’m only interested in seeing jim webb’s response.

  15. War on Terror – throw money and people at it
    Health Care – throw money at it
    Education – throw money at it
    Immigration – throw money at it
    Energy – throw money at it and/or create bigger and better regulations so consumers can throw money at it directly instead of through taxes

    Oddly enough, I think this is a pretty good summary of Hillary’s likely positions.

  16. Reason number six – The POTUS is an idiot (I hate saying that uncomfortable truth).

    Reason number seven – Nothing he proposes will be approved by a hostile congress.

  17. Looking at the photo, I cannot keep myself from wondering if that glass is filled with rainwater. Or grain alcohol.

  18. Several years ago, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert did a bit where Colbert said. “I feel a hunger. A hunger that can only be satisfied by a burrito. It will be spicy. It will be juicy. And it will be delicious!” (with every syllable of the last sentence given equal emphasis, and his fist shaking as he did it)

    Then they showed footage of Congress applauding.

    I’ll never understand why they all use that exact same oratorical style.

  19. President

    Of

    Everything

  20. No way will I watch this. I’ve got “Snakes on a Plane” on DVD.

    I certainly hope it was a gift. Otherwise, my respect for is explicably diminished.

  21. Reason number seven – Nothing he proposes will be approved by a hostile congress.

    Ahhh, the beauty of gridlock. I love the fact that the Democrats are opposing GWBs healthcare plan. Even though the reason they’re opposing it is that they think it’s not generous enough, they’re still opposing it and that’s good enough for me. I hope they oppose the hell out of it.

  22. UPDATE: Howard Deutsch points us to The State of the Union Address Drinking Game 2007.

    If you play this game, be advised that death from alcohol poisoning is a likely result.

  23. J sub D: you beat me to it. That’s not a game…that’s a suicide pact. An Irishman couldn’t get through the first five minutes of the speech without going into a coma. Hell, doing a shot every time he says “America” or “family” would probably kill you.

    All politicians have a wretched speaking style based on words that psychologists and speechwriters assure them will create an involuntary emotional response in the listener. This was neatly parodied by Dana Carvey in the days of Bush 1: “Terrorism…BAD. Freedom…GOOD!” Evidently, it works. They keep getting reelected.

  24. All politicians have a wretched speaking style…

    Not true. Reagan and Bill Clinton were both excellent speakers with completely different styles.

    Johnson wasn’t bad and Kennedy and FDR were very good as well.

    But Truman, Ike, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Bush Sr were varying degrees of suckitude.

    G.W. Bush, is so godawfully bad it’s embarrasing. Perhaps the worst presidential speaker in modern history. He’s an empty suit reading off a teleprompter.

    But then conservatives will proclaim a shit-flinging baboon a “great speaker” as long as he proclaims his Christian faith and occasionally uses the words “America”, “God” and “Personal Responsibility”

  25. Best rule in the drinking game:

    Medicare or Medicaid:
    –Wait a really long time to get a drink you really need.

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