Get ready. The State of the Union Address is on all the networks tonight. I think I’ll pass–again. Leaving aside the fact that watching the current tenants of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. turns my stomach, I can’t stand the production that has become the annual address to the nation. It’s like a really bad variety show:
- First you have the big intro: “Hereeeeeeee’s the President of the United States!!” And he walks through and works the crowd like Leno used to on “The Tonight Show.”
- The laugh track, or in this case, the applause track. I really, really, really hate the pauses after every other sentence for applause. It’s so undignified. This isn’t a pep rally; it’s a report mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
- “Our special guests tonight…” Why, oh, why do presidents insists on trotting out their human props for this speech every year? You’re guaranteed to see a military hero (never mind that it’s likely that most of these soldiers would prefer standing watch that sitting next to Michelle Obama all evening) and maybe a poor, disadvantaged person and probably someone who just did his job or acted like a decent human being ( the “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot, the NYC Subway hero, and tonight–Congresswoman Giffords’ trauma surgeon). These people never look happy to be there, and they always seem incredibly uncomfortable standing there throughout the applause, like they’re thinking to themselves, “How long before I can just sit down?”
Here’s an idea: Why don’t we go back to the State of the Union report in writing? That was good enough for presidents from 1801 to 1913. After all, the text of the speech is always released ahead of time anyway. The news media talk about it all day long before the speech. And we know he’s not going to say anything really important. This isn’t like some special address to the nation in a crisis. Most of the garbage that’s proposed during these speeches never gets past the idea stage, so really, what’s the point? I could learn more watching “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery Channel or “The Horrors of Hussein” on History International, both of which air at the same time as the President’s speech.
Better yet, why doesn’t the White House put out the main bullet points from the address on billboards across the country? People could check them out while they are stuck in rush hour traffic or sitting at choke points created by all of those road projects funded by stimulus dollars.
Spare me the theater and spectacle of tonight’s State of the Union Address. I’m sure I have a good book to read.