Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union Burnout

In the good old days of the early Republic, the President sent a State of the Union message in writing to Congress. He didn't come to the Capitol building and give a speech.

Fast forward to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Now the State of the Union address has become a big media event, hyped endlessly for days in advance.

I'm not sure when Presidents started the custom of inviting current heroes (like Captain Sully Sullenberger); youthful examples of good behavior and achievement; and -- inevitably--individual citizens with problems that demonstrate the need for whatever policies the Prez is advocating that year. Did it begin with Carter? Reagan? Earlier ? Later?

Whenever it began, I wish it would end. Props to the President who avoids the temptation to put people on display in order to prop up his policies--whatever his or her political persuasion. This is why I haven't watched the SOU address in many years.

Anyone with me on this?


Lucy F said...

The history nerd weighs in! George Washington and John Adams made their SOU speeches in person, but Thos Jefferson thought that was a bit too "royal" and presented his in writing. Everyone followed his lead until Woodrow Wilson decided to deliver his to a Joint Session of Congress in person in 1913 and that became the new "tradition." Inviting heroes started in 1982 when Reagan invited Lenny Skutnik (who had dived into the Potomac to try to rescue passengers from a plane that had gone down into the river - they were not so lucky as the Hudson River passengers).

I don't watch either. It will all be in the newspaper the next day and I can read it without having to pause every three seconds for five seconds of applause about, mostly, nothing!

Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks, Lucy, for the history lesson! I so agree with you about the applause.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I've watched only a few SOU's. I find them to be more performance posturing of a fictional nature than substantive enlightenment. Sometimes I'll tune in nowadays just to see what Hilary is wearing and when she rolls her eyes. Solely entertainment value.

Recovering Baptist said...

If Congress listened there would be some value but since Congress is so partisan and sold to the highest bidder there is no value. We listen but we have no voice. Like Stepford Wives we vote but our representatives are sold to the highest bidder which is big business. sad

Marlene said...

I find listening on the radio makes it a bit more bearable.