I’ve never been a big fan of the State of the Union addresses, whether I support(ed) that President or not. And now in the 2000’s, it’s become a masterfully crafted art of theater, rivaling classic Broadway hits like Fiddler on the Roof.
A dramatic story and a fantastic script, powerful acting, and tight choreography:
“Cue the veteran who lost his legs in Afghanistan! Cut to Camera 2 mid-shot of the President applauding him. Slow medium-wide to close-up zoom of the single black mother who overcame diversity to open a successful restaurant because of that economic development program. Pan Congresspeople during standing ovations, with quick cuts to Congresspeople from the other side of the aisle remaining seated and looking all pissed off!”
The SOTU was originally created as a written annual report from the President to Congress, not to the people. That’s because, in those days, they lived much happier lives without mass communication and TV commercials (they only had to worry about dysentery), so there were no methods to effectively and directly address the people in real time anyway. As the years went by, the Presidents’ words reached the people via print, then radio, and finally the boob tube, where it was originally broadcast during the day until they realized they could attract more viewers and sell more bottles of Clorox by moving it to evening prime time. (The business of America is business!)
Now, it’s not that I don’t find value in today’s modern incarnation of the SOTU. It’s just that by the time the President speaks, it’s already old news. Anyone who spends even a modest amount of time keeping up with national and world events already knows what’s going on long before he takes to the podium. It’s not like he’s going to surprise the nation with, “Okay, I changed my mind. Forget about the wall.”
However, we have no way of knowing how many people use the SOTU as their only news source. How many have their views shaped by this one speech alone, this limited engagement without all of the facts? How many changed their future support and votes because the President wore a red tie instead of a blue one? How many were affected by the optics alone, the acting proficiency of the speaker, for this just one single performance?
I suspect very many, and that’s pretty scary.
Granted, I claim to have slept through this year’s SOTU, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t record it, nor see a gazillion clips and analyses during the ensuing week. (Unfortunately unavoidable.) This is what annoys me the most about the SOTU, any SOTU, for a president I support or not.
It’s become a political rally for the opposing side, and this year’s disgusting show by the Democrats confirmed this for me yet again.
I happen to be an avid Trump supporter because I believe this country has never been stronger, more prosperous, fairer, or safer. However, according to the Dems, the U.S. is in worse shape than Uganda. The “Ladies in White” was emblematic of this nonsense, because no one really understood what wearing white was supposed to actually represent.
Their intention was to show solidarity for the most female members of Congress ever, without realizing that their message wasn’t about equality for women, but rather, superiority for women in Congress…but only if they were Dem women. (Identity politics at its worst.)
They also should have known that the Ladies in White is a group in Cuba which, for many years, have protested the imprisonment, murder and disappearance of their husbands and sons by Castro.
But didn’t they realize that “Let’s all dress alike!” sounds like some college sorority prank, or worse, the populist “Let’s all wear red!” which Venezuela’s Chavista socialists used? Or the Nazi Brownshirts? Are uniforms their answer!? Pretty childish, and a bad attempt at positive optics.
Will I sleep through next year’s SOTU as well, and simply review bits and pieces in the following days? Probably, because I never slept better than I did that one night last week.