Like Justice Scalia, I am planning to give tonight’s State of the Union Address a pass. I am not quite ready for the 2012 campaign yet, and clearly President Obama is dusting off his clichés and contradictions for a big blow out tonight. “The economy’s in trouble, folks, but we need to spend more on EDUCATION. The United States must be more competitive, but we need to commit ourselves to green (i.e., economically ruinous) technology.” Etc. My personal stash of Dramamine just isn’t large enough. Besides, I think George Will is right: what the State of the Union is all about is the president, regardless of party, endeavoring to “stroke every erogenous zone in the electorate.” It’s a big country and the spectacle is bound to be unseemly.
State of the Union addresses have deteriorated into a parody. The president says something his people like and they all clap and cheer, he throws a bone to my people and they all stand and cheer. These speeches are like cheerleading sessions, partisan cheerleading sessions. The seating tonight is supposed to mitigate that somewhat--why does it take special seating for grown men and women to act like grown men and women? Good lord, is this the best we can come up with for a governing class?
And does anyone believe that the state of our union is sound? I'm tired of hearing that it is. What a load of crap. We're disunited, we're in deep doo-doo financially, and there are plenty of indications that we're a civilization in decline. The state of our union isn't sound, it's holding for now but in need of serious repair. If a president can't even tell the truth about what everyone knows, why should I believe anything else he has to say? It's Dante's ninth circle.
But it doesn't end when the speech is over. At least the Constitution provides some basis for the addresses themselves, cliche-filled claptrap that they've now become--but today, having lived through the hackery that is the State of the Union Address, we're also treated to the partisan response of the loyal opposition. The president gives his speech, and a member of the opposing political party (I guess it's a good thing we only have two parties) then tells the seven people in the country who are still watching TV why the president is wrong. It's almost like dignifying the SOTU speech by addressing its points!
So no, thank you. I've had enough of this for awhile.
Update, 1/27/11: Retired colonel and current US Representative from Florida Allen West gives his thoughts here. A snippet:
"I think what you saw last night was the president trying to live in two worlds. The one world is the one of reality that happened on the second of November, and you could see in his address points where he seemed more conservative than I am. But then there's the other world where he still has to appease and pacify his liberal, left base."